‘We’re not their mates’ Brutal training Queen’s Guards go through to protect monarch

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Her Majesty the Queen became the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee this month, marking 70 years of service to the UK and its people. The unprecedented anniversary will be celebrated in a number of events and initiatives set to take place throughout the year and across the country. They will be accompanied by a four-day bank holiday weekend from June 2 to June 5.

Lasting reminders of the Queen’s Jubilee will be created through initiatives like the Queen’s Green Canopy and the Platinum Pudding competition.

Her private estates will also join in with special Jubilee-themed events, offering yet more opportunities for members of the public to celebrate the historic milestone.

On the eve of a packed 2022 for the Queen, Channel 5 were given exclusive access to the soldiers and officers of the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards over a period of time in 2020 and 2021 in its documentary, The Queen’s Guards: On Her Majesty’s Service.

Their cameras captured a unique insight into what life is like in the oldest continuously serving regiment in the British Army.

The Coldstream Guards is the largest garrison in the British Army, turning out 450 of the finest infantry soldiers which supply the Queen’s footgear regiments.

Recruits must master infanteering, and as footgears, they must perfect all ceremonial foot drills.

Captain Freddie Ruscombe-King is responsible for making sure that the recruits are trained and up to scratch in their drills and presentation.

Right from the very beginning, he said these guards practice their drill more than any other companies at ITC Catterick in North Yorkshire.

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The Captain made clear that there was a fine line between the recruits and their superiors, hinting at the brutal way they are reprimanded when things go wrong.

He said: “We’re not their mates.

“It only takes one small error on their behalf to realise that there is a very distinct line between us and them.”

Talking about the monumental shift recruits are expected to undergo from their everyday lives when entering the barracks, Captain Ruscombe-King added: “We’re responsible for teaching a load of people skills that they have never used in their life.

“They don’t know how to do anything we’re about to teach them apart from maybe running.”


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The Coldstream Guards is part of the elite Household Division.

It was first formed as Monck’s Regiment of Foot in 1650, when England was a republic following the overthrow and execution of Charles I.

The regiment later took its current name in 1855.

It is probably best-known to the public for its role in state and royal ceremonies, and for the distinctive red uniforms and tall bearskin caps.

Over the course of the episode, the Coldstream Guards are seen preparing for the most important inspection of the year.

While some failed, many passed, going on to participate in the season’s biggest royal and ceremonial duties, known as going on ‘The Blue Line’.

General Officer Commanding London District, Major General Chris Ghika, responsible to Her Majesty for all British Army ceremonial, scrutinised everything from drill, to boots, to bearskins, ensuring turnout is immaculate and marching is up to scratch.

With the Queen’s birthday only a matter of months away at the time of filming, regimental leaders and London District met to establish how and where the year’s Trooping the Colour would take place.

They had the added complication of the coronavirus pandemic and restrictions to navigate, planning for the performance to happen on the grounds inside Windsor Castle with just one practice run available.

Viewers met a number of trainees during the documentary, but two stood out: 21-year-old Trainee Guardsman Ki-Manni Lubin, who moved from St Lucia to train in what he described as the best regiment in the British Army.

And Trainee Guardsman Rob Cheesbrough, a 26-year-old who is set on steering clear of his father’s shadow — Guardsman Cheesbrough Senior made the rank of Regimental Sergeant Major.

The Queen’s Guards: On Her Majesty’s Service airs on Thursday at 8pm on Channel 5, with earlier episodes available to stream on My5.

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