At the request of the UK Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Patrick Sanders, Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards presented a Guard of Honour on Horse Guards Parade in London for General Manoj Pande, Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army this week.
The Captain of the Guard, Captain Zacharias Faja, invited the Indian General to inspect the Guard of Honour, showing the ultimate respect to the visiting chief. The Band of the Grenadier Guards, conducted by their Director of Music, Captain Robert Smith, performed a bespoke programme of music in support of the occasion, illustrating the harmony that exists between our two nations.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) said the regiments represented on parade are among the most historic in the British Army and have enjoyed a reputation of world renown for their dual role excellence in combat operations and ceremonial duties for almost 400 years. Also, there was a strong Indian flavour to the historic ceremony as Punjab-born Guardsman Singh joined the Guard of Honour.
The MoD said: “After being inspired by stories he read on the Internet about the British Army, he started following The Guards on social media. He moved to the UK in 2021 to pursue his dream of becoming a King’s Guard, and today he had the great honour of being on parade in that role as a member of Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards.
“As General Manoj Pande inspected the ranks he stopped to talk to Guardsman Singh, whose integration into the British Army is yet another example of how our two nations are working closer than ever.”
There have been a series of bilateral visits and military engagements between the UK and India since the beginning of 2023, including the visit of the UK’s Chief of the Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, to India in April. Besides, there have been a series of joint training exercises between the two armed forces, boosting interoperability – the ability for nations to work together on operations for maximum impacts.
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With the Indo-Pacific tilt’ now a permanent pillar of the UK’s international policy, the region is seen as critical to the country’s economy, security, and interest in an open and stable international order.
“In this, India is an equal partner for the UK, and that friendship is highly valued, as today’s Guard of Honour testifies. Ceremonial welcomes of this nature are considered especial and memorable moments of high honour from one nation to another,” the MoD said.
On August 11, some 200 Officer Cadets, including 45 international cadets, of Commissioning Course 223 will pass out as Commissioned Army Officers at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst. General Pande has been given the supreme privilege of being the Sovereign's representative at that parade and he will take the salute in place of the King at the pass off parade. It makes the visit historic as he is the first Indian representative ever to be afforded such an honour.
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General Pande is in the UK on a four-day visit this week, which includes bilateral talks on various matters of common interest, including defence cooperation, counter-terrorism efforts and strategic planning.