Shilo-based regiment returning to Manitoba after ‘incredible’ opportunity forming Queen’s Guard

A contingent of Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery members will head home in the coming days after a once in a lifetime deployment to guard the Queen and the four royal residences in the London district.

Ninety Canadian soldiers and the 35-person Royal Canadian Artillery Band assumed the duties overseas from Oct. 4 to 22.

“It was incredible,” said Maj. Michael Crosier of the First Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.

“This is a once in a lifetime, or a once in a career opportunity for everybody who’s doing this, and I think everybody saw it that way,” said Crosier, whose unit is based at CFB Shilo in Manitoba. 

“Everybody has taken advantage of this great opportunity here and just have been enjoying themselves immensely.” 

Crosier said the deployment was a once in a lifetime event for members of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. (Submitted by Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery)

The RCA was invited to form the Queen’s Guard to honour and commemorate the 150th anniversary of the formation of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery A and B batteries, Crosier said. 

“They were the first regular-force unit in Canada,” he said. “Their formation paved the way to become our own sovereign nation.”

While Crosier’s unit is based in Manitoba, where the majority of the solders who formed the guard are currently stationed, he said the contingent that travelled overseas was made up of members of other artillery regiments from across Canada.

They spent six weeks in total overseas, and for three weeks served as the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace, St. James’s Palace, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London.

The Canadian contingent has been in the United Kingdom for six weeks. (Submitted by Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery)

For the mount and dismount ceremonies (formal ceremonies in which the guard is changed), which occurred eight times, the members of the Queen’s Guard were accompanied by the 35-person Royal Canadian Artillery Band.

Crosier said a highlight for the whole troop was having the opportunity to meet Queen Elizabeth herself. 

“She has an incredible ability to put everybody at ease immediately,” he said. “She starts talking with you … [and] you’re not nervous. You’re just talking to her, and you can tell she’s been doing this for a long time.

“She went through and she engaged with everybody … she’s an amazing woman,” Crosier added. “Absolutely incredible.” 

While the contingent was overseas to work, Crosier said the significance of the Queen’s invitation during an important year for the regiment was not lost of the troops.

“It is incredibly significant that we’re doing it this year,” Crosier said. “I’m proud to have been given this opportunity.” 

The group returns to Canada on Tuesday.