A Sikh Coldstream Guard became the first soldier to wear his religious turban in the widely watched traditional Trooping the Colour ceremony at Buckingham Palace on Saturday June 9, the official birthday of Queen Elizabeth.
More than 1,000 British soldiers marched on Saturday in a centuries-old ceremony of which soldier Charanpreet Singh Lall was a part of. Lall belonging to the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards wore his turban instead of the traditional tall bearskin hat in Trooping the Colour, a military display of pomp and pageantry that goes back nearly 270 years.
Lall told Britain's Press Association that he's honored to be taking part in Trooping the Colour for the first time. "I hope that people watching, that they will just acknowledge it and that they will look at it as a new change in history," Lall told the news agency.
Trooping the Colour originated from traditional preparations for battle. Colours, or flags, were carried, or ‘trooped’, down the ranks so they could be seen and recognised by the soldiers.
In the 18th century, guards from the Royal palaces assembled daily on Horse Guards to "troop the colours", and in 1748 it was announced the parade would also mark the Sovereign's official birthday.
This year the ceremony to mark the Queens birthday, which is staged every June in London's historic Horse Guards Parade, saw the Colour of the 1st Battalion the Coldstream Guards being trooped.
Lall, however isn't the first Sikh guardsman to conduct his duties in a turban in England. A defense press officer said he believes the first to wear a turban was in 2012. "It would not be a vast number between 2012 and 2018," the spokesman said. "What I can tell you is that he is the first Coldstream Guardsman to wear a turban during the Queen's birthday parade," he said.
The United Kingdom has a sizeable Sikh population with the last census conducted in 2011 putting their number close to 5 lakh. Those men following the Sikh religion are mandated to wear the turban as part of practicing the religion.