A speech by The Duchess of Cornwall at Sovereign's Parade, Sandhurst

Published 16 December 2016

This parade marks the handing of the baton to the next generation, to those few who accept the call to arms in the service of our Nation and in protection of all we hold dear

Ladies and Gentlemen

We stand today at a place born of service, on a day born of pride and before representatives of an Army born of strength and who can deny that we will require these attributes in the coming years? 

This parade marks the handing of the baton to the next generation, to those few who accept the call to arms in the service of our Nation and in protection of all we hold dear. I have nothing but admiration for each one of you.

In 1936, almost exactly eighty years to the day, my father walked up those famous steps to commence his commission in the Twelfth Lancers. Like many of you standing on parade today, he hoped for peace and a little adventure.  

But within three years he was amongst the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk; then with the Desert Rats facing Rommel's Afrika Corps; and finally imprisoned in Spangenberg Castle as a Prisoner of War. 

Then, as now, the international order was challenged; then, as now, liberty was threatened - but then, and now once again, good men and women stood up in defiance to defend our Nation's values.

We come today not only to honour the legacy of our forebears and to celebrate the historic service of this Great British Army, but also to observe the oath which each of you has made: the same solemn pledge to serve, to lead and to protect.

To those from overseas about to be commissioned, please remember that despite the geographic distances between us and the future passages of time and circumstance, Britain will continue to extend the hand of friendship.

Each of you have represented your respective nations with distinction and will now return home strengthened by the experience gained at this famous military academy. 

And the relationship you forged here in adversity and high spirits will endure a lifetime and will serve you well in the uncertain future.

Now speaking as an Army Officer's daughter, may I say I sometimes think the unsung heroes are the families. It is a great pleasure to see so many of you here today. Your support this year will have been vital – the calm before the storm, one could say!  I myself have shared your sense of trepidation about the future and felt your concerns about the well-being of your loved ones. 

But I know the Army family will support each of you in the same fashion as you have supported and encouraged those commissioning. Thank you all for your steadfast support.

When I see so many young men and women standing immaculately on parade, I cannot help but believe that here are some who will confront trials as great as those faced by our forebears, who will rise courageously to the great challenges of the future and ensure that our values will not merely survive, but, indeed, prevail.  

I salute each of you, not just for your recent success, but for the successes to come in defending all that is great in Britain.



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