Wednesday 10th August found a happy band of members up with the lark to board their coach and travel from Kew to The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.
We were met by our guide for the day, Tony Merrifield, and were privileged to watch the splendid Commandant’s Parade in Old College Square. This formed the dress rehearsal for the official Sovereign’s Parade which took place the following Friday.
The precision of the March Past in Slow and Quick time was a joy to watch – the ceremony was accompanied by a rousing programme of music provided by the Band of the Royal Armoured Corps.
The Sovereign’s Parade marks the passing out from Sandhurst Military Academy for the 204 Officer Cadets who have completed the training for the Commissioning Course and is the result of many hours of hard work. It means that they will be officially commissioned as officers of the British Army from midnight on the Friday – when the clock strikes twelve, the celebrations begin with the now newly commissioned Second Lieutenants proudly displaying their rank insignia for the first time !
184 of the Officer Cadets were from the United Kingdom, whilst the remaining 20 were from overseas and will return to their countries’ armies.
During the ceremony, The Commandant, Major General P. A. E. Nanson CBE, rehearsed the presentation of the Sword of Honour, the Overseas Sword, the Overseas Award and the Queen’s Medal to the top Officer Cadets.
The parade ended in splendid style with The Adjutant riding his horse ‘The Black Charger’ up the steps of Old College and following the graduating Officer Cadets through the Grand Entrance – a splendid piece of horsemanship which received a huge round of applause!
Following a buffet lunch, our group was entertained with more stories about the history and current and changing focus for Sandhurst. During a visit to the Roman Catholic Chapel in the grounds, Tony revealed the interesting facts connected with the baptismal font, altar, stained glass windows and amphitheatre of pews. Here resides the ship’s bell of HMS Sandhurst commemorating links with the Royal Navy and the Royal Naval College Dartmouth.
Our group then moved on to the Royal Military Memorial Chapel and the fascinating rooms which house historic artefacts and paintings to hear more about the formation of this military institution in 1801 and links to Colonel Le Marchant, George III and his second eldest son Prince Frederick, Duke of York.
The Kew Society members ended their day in style – Tony gave us a running commentary as we toured the 500 acre site in the coach.
It was a wonderful day out and we are so grateful to Sue May, the Events team and Tony Merrifield for putting together this unique opportunity.