The Queen's Body Guard
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There's a Funny Thing
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Every soldier has a good story, indeed, there's a bit of a fisherman in all of us. Below are just a few of the more believable and printable ones, that have been volunteered for your entertainment by The Body Guard both currently serving and on the exempt list. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time things work out without a hitch; but it's that point-one percent that makes a routine duty turn into a darn good yarn. 

One's Escort is Knackered!

The Queen's Golden Jubilee march from Buckingham Palace to St Paul's Cathedral was a long and arduous one and the finest four Yeomen were chosen to march alongside the wheels of the Gold Coach.  For some weeks before the big day Yeomen John Lloyd and Tom Lee walked the route many times for endurance and to ensure that they would be in-step.  John and Tom would be on the right side (off-side) of the coach; Yeomen Chris Sayer and Bob Daysmith would be on the left side (near-side).  Preparation and rehearsal are vital and so two days prior, and in the very early hours of the morning, the parade marched along the route to establish the pace and timings.  The rehearsal went without hitch and the exact pace was known to get Her Majesty from Buckingham Palace to St Paul's at the precise time. 

The rest of the story is courtesy of Yeo John Eric Lloyd (The knackered escort):

The four wheelmen marched from St James' Palace to Buckingham Palace carrying partisans and swords.  The crowds were amazing, cheering anything in a uniform, but at this moment all eyes seemed to be on The Body Guard.  We collected our Sovereign, Coach and Household Cavalry escort and marched from Buckingham Palace to the sound of Zadok The Priest.  Around Queen Victoria's Monument (the Wedding Cake) and up the Mall we marched to cheers and waves at what seemed like a quicker march than I remembered at the rehearsal, but I felt sure that it would slow a little as we entered Whitehall and down to Temple Bar.  A few hundred yards more and no slowing of pace but, in true Guard style, I thought 'no probs'.  But then I felt a tremendous stabbing pain from my right foot that shot almost immediately up my leg.  The pain got worse as I marched... marched? it was almost a semi-run.  We temporarily halted as planned at Temple Bar.  My distress was obvious and two kind police officers came to my rescue offering me water, pouring a little down my neck.  The inside of my shoe by this time seemed quite wet and warm and I knew that it wasn't the refreshing water causing it.  Off again, and the pain was constant and I had no option but to fall back.  I was determined to finish although a little further back than the rest, in any case what option did I have, I would never have lived it down back at St James' dressing room.  As I saw the Abbey approach it felt as though I was marching on broken glass and worryingly the left foot began to pinch.  Just around the corner now and I could re-join my colleagues who had arrived by this time; hopefully none of the millions watching on TV would notice my tardiness as I slipped into place.  After a few minutes we marched off to the waiting Windsorian coach.  The driver took pity on me and offered me a cup of coffee. Never did a cup of coffee from a thermos taste so good, it might have been ambrosia.  The others? They were in bad shape too, and all we could do is collapse into our seats.  The proudest moment of my Body Guard career was over.  On my return to St James' I discovered the cause of all my woes, a three inch split had developed on the ball of my right foot and a very large blister was about to burst on my left.  The several millilitres of blood has stained the leather in my shoe and acts as a lasting reminder. 

We soon discovered that we had arrived at St Paul's too early and that it was the faster pace that had been the cause.  Indeed, as it happens I had been the only one on parade that had marched at the correct pace and I actually...... arrived on time. 

Yeoman John Lloyd
The Knackered One                   

My Gawd There's a Streaker!

Buckingham Palace Garden Parties are special to The Body Guard because it's the only occasion that we are allowed to engage with the public whilst on duty.  You might say that on these occasions we are a little hands-on, unfortunately at a Garden party in 2003, Yeoman Ray Duffy became a little too hands-on.  During Garden Parties Her Majesty walks slowly along a corridor of guests, stopping to speak to many, and enters the Royal enclosure housing marquees for invited guests, diplomats etc.  This enclosure is cordoned off and during Her Majesty's well-earned refreshment break The Body Guard stand in pairs at each entry point.  Yeo Ray Duffy (a very cruel, but fair, caricature of Ray can be found in the bottom right hand corner of the above sketch) was on guard at the enclosure when the 17 year old son of one of the guests allowed the occasion to get the better of him and he ran semi-naked into the enclosure and headed for the Royal marquee shouting 'wahey' and 'yahoo'.  Ray, a former Warrant Officer in the Royal Corps of Signals Regiment and currently a Captain with Territorial Army, sped into action and before a startled but cheering crowd rugby tackled the trespasser, placed him in an arm-lock and marched him off to the 'waiting' police.  Ray made two columns in his local paper, The Yorkshire Evening Press, and the young man made bail.  Ray also received appreciation letters from the Royal Household and just a little admiration from his colleagues who to a man wished that he had been in Ray's shoes.        
Taxi!


If there's one word that a military career will teach, it's - adapt - because there isn't always a plan to cater for the odd cock-up.  For instance, there are twenty-two investitures at Buckingham Palace each year. These are indeed well rehearsed because we do them so often.  Four Yeomen and a Sergeant Major are required for the duty and are transported from St James' Palace to Buckingham Palace from Friary Court, Marlborough Road, The Mall and into the gates of Buckingham Palace.  At 1050hrs on the dot we slow march into the Great Hall to the sounds of Men of Harlech and position ourselves on the dais for The Queen's entry at 1100hrs prompt.  We are by tradition transported to the Palace by a gharry, an enclosed black-canvas topped carriage drawn by two horses.  As mentioned, this is a routine duty but on the 8 December 1987 the plan didn't quite come together.  For whatever reason the gharry didn't arrive and there was no time to order fresh transport because by now it was 1035hrs and The Queen enters the Great Hall at 1100hrs sharp and expects to have her Body Guard on the same dais.  Time was pressing, and so with partisans in hand they went out of Friary Court, The Gharry conveys the five Yeomen of the Guard to the Palace.onto Marlborough Road and flagged down two taxis for the five guards and their partisans; by coincidence both of the taxis were maroon thus colour co-ordinated with the tunics.  The partisans are approximately eight feet long and cumbersome at the best of times.  But, with partisans protruding out of the windows of each taxi they were delivered by the skin of their teeth to the main door of the Palace Quadrangle.  Barely had the taxis halted, when the five bailed out from both sides, formed up and slow marched up the main staircase.  Two perplexed taxi drivers were last heard asking footmen "Who's paying for this then lads?"  I don't think we ever received an invoice for that!  And yes, they formed on the dais on time. 
Sgt Shaun Longsdon, Sarrr!!

A normal sized, highly decorated, Field Marshal Sir John Harding CIGS stands in front of an extremely tall student in his final year at Eton College. The 18 year old chosen for special attention was Cadet Sergeant Shaun Longsdon (SL) with Enfield Rifle in hand.  The conversation went like this.....

CIGS.. "What do you have to do as a Sergeant?"
SL....... "Not very much, Sir"
CIGS.. "Are you going to joint the Army?"
SL....... "Not if I can help it, Sir"

.......a year later, a 19 year old Shaun Longsdon was commission into the 17th/21st Lancers and retires in December 2006 after 51 years service in the Army and Queen's Body Guard.

He retires as Lieutenant (Commanding Officer) of The Yeomen of the Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard




This picture was taken at Eton College on the 6 July 1954 and published in the Daily Telegraph and Morning Post next day.

Whose hat is that?

Yeo Tex Howarth was on duty at a Royal Garden Party and positioned at the side of a corridor that is created for Her Majesty to walk along. As Her Majesty approached, a lady behind Tex required a better view and requested, "Excuse me Mr Howarth, would you mind moving to the left a little bit?" Tex was amazed and didn't recognise the lady's voice.  Intrigued, but still standing to attention he asked, "How do you know my name's Howarth?" Through a suppressed  giggled  she replied, "It's on a little sticker that's hanging down from the inside of your hat!" 
Ensign. Ensign, Present Handbag!

During one particular State Opening of Parliament the spectators in the Royal Gallery did not have seats, and were crowded in, shoulder to shoulder.  Standing immediately behind, and extremely close to, the Ensign, who at time was Major Bruce Shand MC, was a lady.  The unsuspecting lady, quite rightly had no cause for concern that her handbag should be anything but safe on the floor in front of her.  However, when the time came for Maj Shand to lower the Standard, as The Queen passed in procession through the Gallery, the lady's handbag was caught on the but of the Standard, and hoisted high into the air. The Queen, who misses nothing, still tells the tale when she receives officers of the Body Guard in audience.  
Sergeant Major, My Leg's Been Felt....Tipped!

MSM Cyril 'Phil' Phillips was a very fine Sergeant Major, a character (as his short biography will testify) and a gentleman. But, like most of the Non-Commissioned Officers in the British Armed Forces, he had an excellent, often very wicked, sense of humour.  For example, just minutes away from being collected for a royal ceremony, a luckless yeoman in full uniform, and in a little distress, approached MSM Phillips.  He lifted his leg onto a bench and showed the Sergeant Major a hole in his scarlet-red woollen stocking that he had accidentally created some minutes earlier.  "I can't go on parade like this! What can I do?" Phil Phillips looked at him, looked at the holed stocking, turned and went into his office where he kept many thing including a mending kit and several pairs of new stockings.  Literally seconds later Mr Phillips returned......with a red felt-tipped pen in hand.  "Give us your leg young man". The bewildered yeoman obeyed, and Mr Phillips began to ink-out the pink patch that quite clearly stood out in the red stockings.     
The Green-Cross-Code

I (your webmaster) was one of four Yeomen and Sergeant Major Len Davies, now Messenger Sergeant Major no less, tasked for duty as Ushers at the Parade for The Queen's Golden Jubilee in July 2002 held in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.  As usual we dressed at St James' Palace in our Ceremonial Dress, minus partisans.  Now, whether by design or because the coach hadn't turned up, it was decided to march from St James' Palace to Buckingham Palace. For those not too familiar with London the Palaces are, as the crow flies, approximately 400 yards apart.  However, one has to approach via The Mall and across Constitution Hill (a road) and into the Palace.  We set off at a quick march.  I had only been a member of The Guard since January 2002 and, as now, so proud marching along The Mall to the clicking of cameras and the pointing of fingers.  Now, if you've never been to the Buckingham Palace you'll not know that at anytime during the day there are crowds four deep at the gates and literally non-stop traffic along Constitution Hill.  As we approached Constitution Hill I began to wonder how we were going to get across the road without being felled by a black-cab.  We are used to police escorts to and from our duties but on this occasion we had no escort.  "Queen's body guard. Queen's body guard. Halt!"  Ordered the Sergeant Major as we came to a halt at the pelican crossing. With all the dignity and ceremony he could put into such a gesture he pressed the wait-button on the pedestrian crossing and we waiting for what seemed an age for the green-man to appear.  A small lad stood next to me, looked us up and down in a way that said 'Well, you don't see that too often do ya'.  "Queen's body guard. Queen's body guard. Quick, march!"  Ordered the Sergeant Major who himself had received a direct order from the crossing's green-man.           
Un-seamly Question

Yeo John Hook's first duty was a Royal Garden Party in 1976.  He was briefed to be courteous and friendly to the attending guests as it was a big day for many of them and a once in a lifetime event for most.  He was standing on point duty and attempting to keep the guests in line along the corridor along which Her Majesty was slowly walking.  He began to chat to a lady from Australia who wished to know the Body Guard's history and was genuinely interested.  She eventually asked John how long he had been a Yeoman of the Guard to which he informed her it was his first duty.  "Golly!" she said, "You must be extremely nervous!" He told her "No, I'm not nervous but I'm slightly apprehensive about one thing" Concerned, she enquired "What's that?"  "Well", John said, "This is the first time I've ever worn stockings and I'm wondering if my seams are straight"  Without further ado, she bent down, gave John the once over and said "No, they look okay to me young man"  
So much for the buddy-buddy system!

Most servicemen can survive on their own, but on some occasions one needs the support of colleagues. This system is called 'buddy-buddy'.  The system being, you dress yourself and the people adjacent to you check you over afterwards.  If one's uniform hasn't been fitted correctly, it should be found during the buddy-buddy check and corrected. This is especially important in battle but is used in the dressing rooms of St James' Palace too, mainly because the uniform is so difficult to put by oneself; knights-of-old had a page or squire for this very reason.  So, look at the picture (click to enlarge) and ask yourself....how did that happen?   answer
Thanks to YBH David Froggatt for the picture
When-What-Hey?

On completion of their military service all Yeomen of the Queen's Body Guard are at the very least of Sergeant rank and the majority are Sergeant Major.  At some stage in their career they have completed a drill-sergeant course or indeed have been drill instructors.  I feel that it is because of this, that it is assumed that we by instinct know exactly what to do and how we should do it.  Yeo Tex Howarth was on duty at a particular State visit where, unusually, the visiting Head of State was to attend the Houses of Parliament and The Body Guard was in attendance.  The Divisional Sergeant Major who, unlike Tex, knew what was going on beckoned Tex to him and said with all sincerity "Right - Stay there - Stand at Ease and Follow me".  We have a saying in The Body Guard  - If you mess up during a ceremony, make it look good and as if it was meant to happen that way, and above-all-else, do it with style and dignity. 
Coach!

This rabble, sorry, group of fine upstanding men have just entered St James' Park and heading for The Palace of Westminster. Once again, there had been a problem with transport and we had to take Shanks's Pony

Each man was in step, albeit his own, and unlike the coach, arrived on time for the 2004 State Opening of Parliament rehearsal.

By the way, none of these men were posing for this picture (courtesy of Yeo Ray Duffy) it just so happened that they were looking this way. The Body Guard would never take an opportunity to pose for a photograph...never...ever.  

Does my bum look big in this?

An embarrassing incident happened to YBH David Froggatt whilst on an Investiture. Dressed and ready for the off from Friary Court, St James’ Palace, he placed his foot on the step of the horse drawn gharry to heave myself up.  Unfortunately, due to shrinkage of the material of the breeches it made for a very snug fit (does the term “Does my bum look big in this?” mean anything David?)  The strain was too much for the material and to his horror the breeches were split along the central seam in the gusset area.  Messenger Sergeant Major Phillips made a clandestine inspected of the breeches (David knew of course) and it was decided that the damage was not obvious.  David was assured that nothing was “amiss” and that the tunic hid the damage and in any case there was no time to change.

David was not looking forward to appearing on the dais that day, especially as he still had to slow-march onto the dais before an audience of recipients and guests seated lower than he.  Of course he imagined the worst and thought his predicament (I’ve never heard it called that, but it will do!) would be revealed to all.  The Investiture was completed with dignity and without The Queen being aware that one of her guards was in an embarrassed stated. Needless to say a new pair of breeches was required, so was membership to a local gymnasium.  He was doubly careful on further Investitures, taking it a little easier when mounting the step into the gharry.
Good on ya' Dame Kelly Holmes

One of the special advantages of being a member of The Guard is the opportunity to meet famous people, none more so than The Queen of course.  Picture opportunities are best after an Investiture Ceremony at Buckingham Palace.  Once the Body Guard have lunched in the Palace dining room, taken with the traditional ration of beer, we head for the Quadrangle and the awaiting gharry (carriage drawn by two horses). 

By this time the recipients of the awards and their families are already in the Quadrangle posing for photographs.  It's at this time that we have to endure the well-deserved and famous rushing over to us begging for a photograph....well, something like that!  In reality, it's always a privilege to have our photo taken with the recipients knowing that our uniform, of which we are so proud, lives on for generations in that family's album. 

On this occasion we were proud to pose with Dame Kelly Holmes (a former Army Senior Non-Commissioned Officer) on her great day.

However, sometimes it can backfire.  See below......
 

 

 


Photograph courtesy of Hello Magazine April 2005

Good on ya' Daily Sport

The Daily Sport published their own, and very amusing, photo next day.  

Good Timing!

The Body Guard are proud to have been involved in the wedding ceremony of Charles, The Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral in July 1981.  Before any ceremony we rehearse mercilessly beforehand at the venue, and in the final rehearsal in real-time.  The full and final rehearsal was on the eve of the wedding and Yeo Drummond "Spike" Window was one of those lucky enough to be on guard inside.  The choir sang like angels and the pipes of the cathedral's organ-pipes roared to the sound of hymns as local dignities and Palace household filled the parts of The Prince, his bride to-be and other principle players.  The wedding procession walked slowly along the nave stopping before the Arch-Bishop of Canterbury upon the hour.  The choir and organ silenced in unison and as the Arch-Bishop looked up to begin the service, Spike's watch reminded him that it was 1700hrs to the sound of "Jesus Joy of Man's Desire".  Now, I don't know if you've been around St Paul's but the acoustics are fantastic and the slightest sound is amplified.  The rehearsal resumed unfazed following the obligatory look around for the idiot with the watch; Spike also looked around for the idiot of cause, whilst discretely turning off the alarm before the Messenger Sergeant Major caught his eye.   

I would like to say here and now, that this was the first and very only time that modern technology has interrupted a ceremony .................. but I can't. A mobile phone rang in the breeches pocket of a Guard whilst he stood on the dais behind Her Majesty at an Investiture.  All I can say about this particular incident is... how embarrassing! 

On another occasion The Body Guard itself was being honoured in Her Majesty's Chapel Royal at St James' Palace.  The Body Guard, past and present, assembled in this very small Chapel that has been witness to many weddings and too many funerals.  During the service the mobile phone of a Yeoman on the Exempt List, whose name I will not mention, activated to the tune of "Scotland the Brave".  As though wearing boxing gloves, he fumbled for the off-key which he eventually found after many, many.......many seconds and the assistance of his neighbours before the tune stopped.  Amid wide grins from the rest of us, almost to a man, we made a double check of our own mobiles lest we fell pray to the same mistake.  This was already one of those 'do you remember when...' moments, when heavens above, the same phone activated not three minutes later.  Being more agile with the boxing gloves and only proving that practice does indeed make perfect, the tune ceased only to be replaced with a recording of an American woman with a monotone and slightly annoying voice stating, "We have been unable to connect to your voice mail right now, please try again later", not once...but twice.  We all looked towards Messenger Sergeant Major Lennard Davies who one could only imagine was mentally rehearsing a good 'talking too' and wishing he had the authority to award the villain five-extra duties and fine him a bottle of good quality port at the next Roger Monk Dinner.  God Bless modern technology hey?  Not likely!           

Bloomin' Cheek!

The picture shows an advertisment placed in the Toronto Times in 1999 regarding British Airways' cut-priced fares.  Needless-to-say the little tinkers had superimposed the billboards onto an innocent picture of Yeomen of the Guard standing outside Portsmouth Cathedral after the 1998 Maundy Service.

We are also free for weddings, parties and bar mitzvahs.



Thanks to Yeo Ray Duffy for the picture.

Do I Know You?

These photos only go to prove that the Army is a very small world. 

In 1966 an informal moment on the Hohne Ranges, Germany, is shared between Major Shaun Longsdon and Squadron Sergeant Major Dennis Tomlin, both 17th/21st Lancers.

And in 1986, Colonel Shaun Longsdon, Exon, shares a posed moment in Friary Court, St James' Palace, London, with Yeomen Dennis Tomlin.  The Col exchanges his riding crop for a sword and Yeo Tomlin his muddy DMS boots for a shiny pair of Loakes Monk Shoes
Answer to Spot the Error.  It was the cross-belt of the Yeoman third from the right.  It's being worn incorrectly right-to-left instead of left-to-right. The offender is Yeo John Jones (34 Jones) and apparently he was dressed by a certain Mel Thompson!  back

 

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