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Grenadier Guardsman on Horse Guard's Parade
Andy Parsons

Things you only know if you’re a Grenadier Guardsman

Written by
Danielle Goldstein

…according to Sgt Martin, 37.

The Queen’s guards aren’t as tall as they used to be

‘The height requirement has been brought down to 5' 10", but traditionally, if you were in the Queen’s Company within the Grenadier Guards, you had to be 6' 2" or over. They were known as “the models” because they were so tall. I’m 5' 10" myself, so there was a time when I wouldn’t have made it.’

Tourists can be pretty forward

‘It’s nice when they ask for a photo, even though we can’t respond, because it shows respect for what we do. One American tourist – quite an attractive lady – asked if she could give me a peck on the cheek. I had to say “absolutely not”, much against my better judgement.’

Bearskins are definitely not hats

‘It’s a bearskin, not a hat. In the Napoleonic Wars we took the bearskin from Napoleon’s grenadiers, which is why we are now known as grenadiers and why the guards wear the bearskins to this day. It’s a battle honour and one we’re proud to uphold.’

Laughing on duty can land you in jail

‘We swear an oath of allegiance to do as we’re told, and part of our orders is to remain steady and show the status of the royal family. If a guard were to be caught laughing, there would be a re-education at a military prison in Colchester to make sure they’re still aware of their responsibilities when they’re on post.’

With all that standing still to do, guards count stuff to stave off boredom

‘We take turns at different posts throughout the year. At St James’s Palace everyone has a stab at counting the bricks in front of them. Someone counted nearly 200, but there seems to be a different result each time.’

Now discover the things you only know if you’re a London chimney sweep.

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