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ST. GEORGE'S DAY - 23RD APRIL
St. George is the patron saint of England and St. George's Day is 23rd April.
St. George's Day is celebrated by The Regiment because of its connections with William of Orange and The Regiment's loyalty to him.
In 1688 The Regiment was one of the first to support William, Prince of Orange and in January of the following year when King James II fled to France and William became King William III (and ruled with Queen Mary) the loyalty of The Regiment was rewarded. Tradition has it that the new King granted The Regiment its badge, the Lion of England, for being one of the first to support him.
The earliest record of The Regiment parading on St. George’s Day was in 1704 when, on what was also the anniversary of Queen Anne’s accession, they paraded in Lisbon.
The following year The Regiment, which was serving as Marines, celebrated St. George’s Day in Gibraltar with a parade and inspection followed by a firework display.
The Regiment started formal parades in around 1898, when it is recorded that the 1st Battalion King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment) trooped the Regimental Colour at Mount Austin Barracks in Hong Kong.
The Trooping of the Regimental Colour was from that date done by both Regular Battalions and at the Regimental Depot (based at Bowerham Barracks, Lancaster). The Trooping was usually followed by sports, gymkhana, social gathering (such as a fancy dress ball) or similar.
All ranks were presented with a red rose which was worn in the headdress, and, according to records dated 1908, a wreath of red roses was from that date placed on each Colour. The Drums and Drum Major’s staff were also garlanded with roses.
The King’s Own were the last Regiment of the British Army to parade on St. George’s Day in Dublin Castle, Ireland (before partition) in 1921.
Even during the Second World War St. George’s Day was marked. In 1940 there was no parade but roses were issued and the band and drums played and there followed a bathing picnic for the families who were with the 1st Battalion in Karachi. The following year the 1st Battalion were stationed at the RAF station at Habbaniya in Iraq where a ceremonial parade was held and roses were issued, to the officers and Regimental Sergeant Major, from the only two rose bushes in Iraq!
Nowadays the King's Own Royal Border Regiment marks St. George's Day with dinners, parades and the presentation of roses depending upon the operational commitments of the battalions. The Lancaster Branch of the Regimental Association parades at the Cenotaph in Lancaster and lays a wreath of red roses in remembrance of all former members of The Regiment.
© 2007 Trustees of the King's Own Royal Regiment Museum