The Royal Malay Regiment soldiers with Members of the Welsh Guards during the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace on Friday 2 May 2008 [Picture: Sergeant Mick Howard RLC]
At Buckingham Palace today, Friday 2 May 2008, red jackets and black bearskins were replaced by pristine white tunics, brocade 'sampins' and gold-banded 'songkoks', when the Malay Regiment changed guards with 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.
The Regiment is visiting the UK to strengthen ties between Malaysia and the UK. Malaysia is only the fourth Commonwealth nation, after Canada, Australia and Jamaica, to be honoured in performing Public Duties in England.
Major Mohd Fuad bin Md Ghazali led his Company as the Malaysian Army's first Captain of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. He said:"It is a great honour to be here guarding Her Majesty, who is the Head of the Commonwealth, and it is an expression of the close ties between our two countries."
The Royal Malay Regiment (RMR), or Rejimen Askar Melayu DiRaja, is the most senior in the Malaysian Army. The 1st Battalion (1 RMR) is the ceremonial battalion to their King and only draws recruits from the ethnic Malay population. Because the State religion of Malaysia is Islam, the elite soldiers of the 1st Battalion must all be practicing Muslims.
Dress uniform showing the emblem of the 1st Battalion The Royal Malay Regiment[Picture: Shell Daruwala, MOD]
The Regiment's own band accompanied the Guards onto the parade ground today. Wearing Malay dress uniform consisting of white tunics and trousers, gold and green brocade 'sampins' (a type of kilt or sarong), topped off with gold-banded, green velvet 'songkoks' (Islamic caps), the bandsmen played a selection of traditional Malaysian tunes to the delight of the gathered crowds.
Major Norhisham bin Kamar, of 1 RMR, said that this was a proud moment for the Regiment:
"This is a very historical moment for us doing this job, and we will show the best to the audience here, as well as to the Queen.”
He said that this was also a way to help break through religious tensions between the people of Islamic and non-Islamic nations: "Nowadays there is some difficulties between religion," he said. "Here we will show that Muslim countries can work together with non-Muslim countries. We came from a Colonial country - there's no problem with us – and can show how Muslim countries have no problem to work together with other people."
Garrison Sergeant Major WO1 Mott watches with pride as soldiers of the Royal Malay Regiment carry out the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace[Picture: Shell Daruwala, MOD]
Welsh Guards Drill Sergeant, Warrant Officer Second Class Dorian Thomas, was one of the three British trainers who spent three weeks training the RMR in Malaysia, preparing them for their ceremonial duties in the UK. He said:"I've now trained many incremental Companies that have come across here, and their standard of drill to begin with was immaculate. All we really had to teach was the procedures, or the different procedures we use on our Guard Bands." Following today's ceremony, WO2 Thomas said that the Malaysians had been outstanding; the best visiting company he had ever seen.
Another of the trainers was Warrant Officer Class 1 W D G Mott OBE, who is the Garrison Sergeant Major at London District and oversees all the Royal ceremonial parades taking place in London and the Home Counties:"I think it's lovely to have the Malay Regiment on guard now," he said. "They're on Queen's Guard. They've mounted. They're very professional. They've got a lovely attitude towards it.
A soldier of the Royal Malay Regiment and a soldier of the Welsh Guards are given orders for their duties on guard at Buckingham Palace[Picture: Sergeant Mick Howard RLC]
"The Malay Regiment are very professional men and they've come on board with an absolutely outstanding attitude. And that three weeks – you'd think they've been training for about six months."
He said that Malaysians everywhere should take pride in the professionalism of their soldiers:
"If we have Malay persons that live in this country, they should be proud and they should come into London to see them. Over in Malaysia they should be very, very proud of their countrymen that are over here on Royal Guards looking after Her Majesty, the Sovereign."
The Royal Malay Regiment began their Public Duties in the UK by providing the Windsor Castle Guard on Tuesday, 29 April 2008. The Company's London duties are expected to end on 13 June 2008.
London District Brigade Major Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Bagshaw said:"We are delighted to welcome the Royal Malay Regiment to participate in ceremonial duties. We are most impressed by the excellence of their turnout and their quality of drill and musicianship."
Members of the Royal Malay Regiment band[Picture: Sergeant Mick Howard RLC]
Founded by British Commanding Officer, G McBruce in 1933, the Royal Malay Regiment began life as an Experimental Company of just 25 men, becoming the Malay Regiment, with a complement of 150 men on 1 January 1935.
The Regiment now consists of 25 Battalions and has a distinguished record of service in the Second World War, The Malaysian Emergency in the 1950s and the Indonesian Confrontation in the 1960s. More recently, the Regiment's 19 (Mechanised) Battalion were involved in the rescue of downed American servicemen during The Battle of Mogadishu in 1993 – a story immortalised in the Hollywood film 'Black Hawk Down'.During their stay in London, the Regimental Band will also be involved in the Royal Windsor Castle Tattoo on 8-10 May, Beating Retreat on Horse Guards on 4-5 June and the Royal Hospital Pageant on 7-8 June 2008. 1 Battalion RMR is allied to the Royal Anglian Regiment.During their tour the Company is based at RAF Uxbridge.