Prince William donned one of those impressive British military uniforms Friday to return to his old marching grounds at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, standing in for his grandmother the queen for the annual Sovereign’s Day Parade.
Dressed in full regalia – red-brimmed hat, draped gold braid, white gloves and belt, red-trimmed pants – the second in line to the throne inspected the annual “parade,” a class of nearly 200 officer cadets from the United Kingdom and 19 other countries graduating after a year’s intensive training course.
The Duke of Cambridge also distributed awards, including the Sword of Honour, the Overseas Sword and The Queen’s Medal. And he gave a speech recalling his own “passing out” at Sandhurst, when it was Queen Elizabeth II herself who presided, smiling at him as she went by him standing at attention.
“It is almost 12 years ago to the day that I stood where you are,” he said. “I remember the deep sense of pride that came from passing out of one of the finest military academies in the world as well as wanting a short speech delivered so I could march off the parade square that little bit quicker!
“I also remember the acute sense of relief that I would no longer be getting thrashed at Sennybridge (a military training area in Wales), or having to dig trenches for five days in Thetford!” he joked.
The uniform Will wore may be familiar: Known as the Blues and Royals uniform, it’s what he wore to Prince Harry’s wedding in May to the former Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex.
Last year, Harry attended the parade, 11 years after his own graduation. While he was there, Kensington Palace announced that he and Meghan would marry in May at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
It’s routine for British male royal heirs to attend Sandhurst and/or serve time in the military before moving on to full-time royal duties. Will, 36, served more than seven years in the military, including the Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force.
His brother Harry, 34, also attended Sandhurst and spent 10 years in the Army. Their father, Prince Charles the Prince of Wales, 70, served in the Navy, Army and RAF, after attending both the Navy and RAF colleges.
Now both princes are full-time royals, and Will increasingly has joined his father in filling in for the 92-year-old queen at the many ceremonies she usually presides over every year.
In his speech, Will praised the cadets for getting through the rigors of the course, reminding them that their time at the academy would live with them for the rest of their lives.
“The friendships forged will last a lifetime and you will have been fortunate enough to have shared experiences with people from many different backgrounds, countries, cultures and religions,” he said.
He also expounded the meaning of the motto of the academy, “Serve to Lead.”
“It means placing the interests of your soldiers ahead of the interests of yourself. It means earning their trust and looking out for them. It means being the one who must make tough decisions and lead in the face of adversity.”
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