Queen visits Dreghorn army barracks

The Queen during her visit to Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh. Picture: PA
The Queen during her visit to Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh. Picture: PA
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THE Queen presented a battalion of soldiers with one of its highest honours as part of her tour of Scotland yesterday.

• The Queen visits Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh

• All seven battalions present for “truly historic occasion”

The monarch awarded The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, with the Pipe Banner during a visit to Dreghorn Barracks in Edinburgh.

It followed a parade by the Pipes and Drums attended by hundreds of armed forces personnel and their families.

The hand-made banner will be carried when the band plays at high-profile events and state occasions.

The Queen arrived at the barracks yesterday lunchtime on the fourth day of her week-long tour north of the Border.

Colours from each of the seven battalions in the regiment were brought together for the first time for inspection by the monarch, which is regarded as hugely significant by the Army in Scotland.

Colours from The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, were flown over specially from Afghanistan, where its soldiers are serving their third tour of Helmand Province.

“It’s very special to be presented with a Pipe Banner, but to have all seven battalions here to take part in the parade makes this occasion truly unique and historic,” Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Graham told The Scotsman.

“To have the Colours from each battalion together might not seem that significant to people but it has never happened before and indeed may well never happen again. A huge honour for the soldiers here today.”

Among those watching the performance by the Pipes and Drums was Stephanie Miller, 31, and her son James, aged 7 months.

Her husband Andrew, 32, is a saxophonist in the band and said he had been anxiously preparing for The Queen’s visit.

“He’s been rehearsing his playing and marching all week, it’s a huge event for people here.”

Major Andrea Macgowan, 37, was also at the event with her daughter Kitty, aged 7 months, despite being on maternity leave from the battalion.

“In all my 11 years I’ve been in the Army I haven’t seen The Queen, so we’ve been quite looking forward to it.”

Following the parade, The Queen, dressed in a royal blue Karl Ludwig dress and coat with an Angela Kelly hat, met members of the battalion and their families in the Officers’ Mess.

Lindsey Hempenstall, whose husband, Major Alistair Hempenstall, is due to take over as Company Commander, said: “Today’s visit will have been a boost for the morale of the regiment.

“It is a huge honour to have the Queen here and for her to be able to meet soldiers and their families.”

Jennifer Watson, whose husband, Major Angus Watson serves with the battalion, has recently given birth to her son Harry, aged 10 weeks, and said The Queen had sympathised with the exhausted parents.

“My husband had the privilege to sit next to The Queen at Holyrood Palace the other night and so she knew we’ve just had Harry, and have two other children.

“She was saying you must not be getting much sleep! It was such a privilege to have here today.”

The Queen’s departure was marked with a procession out of the barracks, led by the pipe band and the official mascot of The Royal Regiment of Scotland, a Shetland pony named Cruachan The Fourth.

The monarch met his predecessor, also named Cruachan, some years ago when inspecting the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

He famously took a bite out of a bunch of flowers she was carrying, and, it is said, earned himself a demotion from corporal to private.