On 11th April I attended the RMAS Commandant’s Parade at Sandhurst with Angela Owen, founder of the Women in Defence UK network. We were there as the guests of the Armed Forces Diversity Team.
This parade is the full dress rehearsal for the Sovereign’s Parade which is held 2 days later, where cadets are presented to the official representative of the Queen. Winding back almost seventy years marks the first Sovereign’s Parade, which was performed on 14th July 1948 in front of King George VI.
The parades are held at the end of each term at the Academy, and mark the passing out from Sandhurst of Officer Cadets who have completed the commissioning course. The Commandant inspecting Wednesday’s Parade was Major General P A E Nanson CBE who has been the Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst for almost three years, after being commissioned into the Territorial Army 34 years ago.
For over 200 years Sandhurst has evolved to meet the changing requirements of the British Army and this evolution continues apace today. The enduring attributes are courage, character, and professional competence – which together should equip the Officer for the responsibilities of leadership on first appointment.
Taking to the floor was the Junior, Intermediate, and Senior Divisions with 12 Companies in total and the Sovereign’s Platoon which was 2 Platoon, Blenheim Company. British and international Cadet’s marched on Parade to music provided by The Royal Artillery Band & The Band and Corps of Drums of the Royal Logistics Corps. This only served to heighten the atmosphere across the pavilion and under the canopies where spectators – largely made up of families, looked on with pride. Thankfully, despite the recent snowfall and sub-zero temperatures, the weather stayed fair which was just as well given the Parade lasts around 2 hours!
The Sword of Honour was also presented to three individuals against the ‘International Sword’, the ‘Queen’s Medal’, and the ‘International Award’ categories – to recognise the best of the Intake as decided by the Commandant.
After lunch we attended a presentation by the award winning Armed Forces Diversity Engagement Team ‘Forces4inclusion’. The primary aim of this team is to myth bust about the Armed Forces, and engage with the communities that they defend. The presentation was a tri-service collaboration of individuals in the Army, Royal Navy, and Royal Air Force, and covered some of the topical discussions that surround what people perceive to be life in the Armed Forces. This was proceeded by a Q&A session where we were invited to grill the panel, to which the audience willingly agreed!
Finally, it was time to go home. I spent the journey back to Bristol thinking about how inspired I felt, with an odd sense of pride having watched the cadet’s practice for their forthcoming commission. It goes to show that if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything. My advice? If there is something you are deliberating over - an adventure, a new role, taking on more responsibility at work … in the words of the Commandant:
‘Go for it – you’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain’.