Colonel Ghika, Irish Guardsmen….fellow Micks,
I stand before you with pride and humility. I am proud to be your Colonel. I am humbled by the thought of the sacrifices that you and your families have made and the losses that you have suffered – all in the service of our Country. Along with thousands of others back home, I followed your tour in Afghanistan with a mounting sense of awe.
It was with wonder, therefore, that as Catherine and I rode through the Centre Gate of Buckingham Palace on our wedding day, there you were, formed up as The Queen’s Guard with your Commanding Officer at your head. If ever there was an illustration of why the Foot Guards – and the Micks in particular – are special, that was it. To exchange combat kit for ceremonial uniform in the space of two weeks is nothing short of remarkable. To be amongst the most proficient in the world wearing both is just extraordinary.
I can only imagine what the Campaign medals you receive today must mean to you. Over the years and decades ahead when you look at this medal, I’m sure it will bring back so many conflicting memories:
Sadness for those who did not return, and thoughts of their families who received their Elizabeth Crosses today;
Respect for the sacrifices of our wounded whom we are all so pleased to see here on parade;
Gratitude to your families for supporting you through the impossible pressures that service life sometimes imposes;
And pride at being part of a Battalion that rose to the challenge of operations in such a magnificent way.
Irish Guardsmen, you are a fine sight. Whether in the Rifle Companies or in the Rear Party, you have done honour to the name of our great regiment.