Explained: Regiment Presentation of Colours

November 11, 2010 | 2 Comments

Her Royal Highness, The Duchess of Gloucester (HRH) arrives in Bermuda this evening (Nov 11), and at 11am, Saturday 13th November, she will present the Bermuda Regiment with new Colours during a special ceremony at the National Sports Center. HRH is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Bermuda Regiment—the third such appointee to the Battalion.

bermuda-regiment colours

The practice of using Colours dates back to the time of Charles II in the 17th Century when the Colours of a Regiment (the brightly-coloured flags of a battalion) were used as position markers or as rallying points in battle. These would be affixed to a long stake or pike such that they could be visible above the smog and dust of battle.

The Troop.

It become customary to carry these Colours down the ranks at the end of the day to ensure that troops were familiar with their Colour and could readily recognize his own. This is known as the Troop. This was also done in the morning before the soldiers went off to battle. On both occasions, the flags would be paraded in a solemn and reverent manner.

During ancient warfare, the position of the Colours was often the sight of fierce battles where many made the supreme sacrifice in their defence. By extension, the Colours became memorials to the fallen. This combined, with the pride of the soldiers in their unit, bestowed upon the Colours the spirit of the Regiment and the Colours came to be held in high regard.

Even today, the Regimental Colours are regarded with great reverence. They are among the most significant items within the Regiment and are highly venerated.

Over 140 officers and men and women, of the Bermuda Regiment are on parade and more than 100 words of command are given by the officers in command of the parade.

The Bermuda Regiment has only Trooped its Colours a few times in the last 45 years and as with all other Regiments, there are unique nuances to this parade format. The Trooping of the Colours parade which the public will witness on Saturday will differ slightly from the Trooping of the Colour parade which can be viewed at Whitehall in London.

Sequence—Arrival

The Guards will form at Police Field and march onto line at the National Sports Center. The Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) will hand the parade over to the Adjutant who will then march the officers into place. Once the officers have take up their posts in front of their Guards, the Adjutant will then report to the Commanding Officer that the parade is formed up and ready for the Presentation of Colours.

The first dignitary of note to arrive at the NSC will be the Premier of Bermuda and her party. Immediately begins the two-minute drill for the ceremonial guns, which will be placed in the upper, northeast corner of the NSC. Just prior to her arrival at the NSC a 21-Gun Salute will commence for HRH with her arrival at the stadium carefully timed to coincide with the last salute. As she alights the vehicle and takes her position on the saluting dais, the Guards will be offer a Royal Salute and the National Anthem will be played. HRH will then inspect the Guard of Honour.

When the inspection is complete, the parade prepares for the Trooping of the old Colours before the soldiers and the assembled visitor after which they will be retired. This is signaled by the Drummers playing the Drummers Call

General Format for the Troop.

An orderly marches on to take the pace stick from the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) who then draws his sword. This is the only time an RSM will do so in peace time. His doing so is a symbolic gesture of his protecting the Colours.

The Escort for the Colour marches off in quick time to the tune The British Grenadiers. Irrespective of the Regiment which is Trooping its Colours, The British Grenadiers is always played at this point in the parade because the right-flanking company of every battalion used to be a grenadier company.

After the Guard gets to its position, the RSM marches from the rear of the Escort and is followed by the Ensign for the Colours. These Ensigns will carry the Colours through the ranks of the assembled riflemen.

The RSM salutes the Colours, takes a pace forward, and receives the Queen’s Colour in his left hand from the Colour Sergeant of the Colour Party. In turn, the Ensign salutes the Colours, returns his sword to his scabbard, receives the Colour and places it in his Colours belt. This process is repeated for the Regimental Colour.

The Ensigns will form about and face the Escort. The guard presents arms and the Colours receive a general salute; the National Anthem is played.

The RSM and the escorts take up their position to the rear of the Guard and the Guard prepares to Troop the Colours. The Ensigns take their position in front of the Guard and the Guard now becomes the “Escort to the Colours.”

The Escort marches solemnly through the remaining assembled guards in slow time to the Bermuda Regiment Slow March.

Once back in position at its Number One Guard position at the right of line, the Escort to the Colours presents arms. The parade is then ordered to shoulder arms.

The Colours are now considered to have been Trooped.

Retirement

At the conclusion of the Troop, the old Colours are then retired. Much less complicated in form, the Guards present arms in salute and the Colours are marched across the length of the parade area in slow time to Auld Lang Syne. The escorts fall in as the Colours pass No. 4 Guard and the entire Colour Party marches out of sight.

The Consecration

The guards will next form a three-sided “square,” the fourth side being open to the audience. This is in symbolic defence of the Colours.

Once the guards have formed, the Drummers will pile their drums to form an “alter” for the consecration of the Colours. Following this the officers receiving the new Colours take their positions in the center of the square. The Quartermaster (QM), who is charged with the acquisition and procurement of all battalion assets, marches the new set of Colours into the center in front of the Drum pile. The Drum Major, newly-promoted Sgt. Tariq Hewey, and one of his Drummers uncases the Colours. The Drum Major has the distinct honour of being the first person to handle the new Colours. The QM then lays the Colours for the Consecration.

The Bishop of Bermuda, the Right Rev. Dr. Patrick G. H. White, attended on by Imam Basim Muwwakkil of Masjid Muhammad and the Bishop of Hamilton, the Most Rev. Dr. Robert Kurtz, takes position in front of the Colours, consecrates the Colours and offers a blessing on their service.

After the consecration, a senior and a junior Major on parade assist HRH with positioning and presenting the Colours to the Battalion. They are placed in the Colour Belts of the waiting officers who are kneeling at the front of the parade.

This completed, the Colonel-in-Chief offers a brief address to the Regiment which is followed by the Commanding Officer’s (CO) reply.

March Past

On conclusion of the CO’s remarks, the Drummers return to their position within the Band, the Chaplains retire, the Majors return to their position in front of the Guards, Nos 1 and 4 Guards return to their positions in line and the newly presented Colours are then marched back into position in slow time to the National Anthem.

At this point, the Guards march past the saluting dais in line offering an eyes right at the dais. The Band will play the Battalion march Bermuda. As the new Colours pass the saluting dais, they are flourished and lowered as a sign of respect and in salute to HRH who will in turn nod as they pass because the Colours have been consecrated. The Guards then reform their line and finally Advance in Review Order and offers a Royal Salute.

The penultimate sequence of the ceremony is the departure of HRH and her party, when she will receive a Royal Salute and the National Anthem is played; the Premier and her party departs shortly thereafter.

The Troops march off parade led by the Band and Corps of Drums who are playing Chimes of Victory.

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