Regiment awarded freedom of Huntingdon
- Credit: Archant
Huntingdon town centre rang with the sounds of a military band and troops marching after the Princess Of Wales’s Royal Regiment was granted the Freedom of the Town.
Members of the regiment, led by the Band of the Queen’s Division, were on parade on the market square to be granted the honour by Huntingdon Town Council.
They were also in Huntingdon for the return of the historic regimental colours of the 31st Huntingdonshire Regiment of Foot, one of its ancestor regiments, which had been in the care of the town council while the PWRR was serving in Cyprus.
Mayor Cllr Sarah Gifford, who inspected the troops, said: “I think it has been a wonderful occasion for Huntingdon. The troops all looked absolutely superb and there was a really good turnout.”
Lt-Col Jim Skelton, commanding officer, said: “Firstly, it has been a great honour to come to Huntingdon which is a home of our regiment and being given the right to march with fixed bayonets and colours flying is a sign of their trust in us.
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“Secondly, it has enabled us to recover the colours of the 31st Huntingdonshire Regiment.”
Lt-Col Skelton said the colours, originally used as a rallying point in battle, were of enormous importance to his regiment and had been carried into battle twice, during the Battle of Sevastopol in the Crimean war and in China at the capture of the Taku Forts during the Second Opium War.
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“Men have shed sweat, blood and have died for these colours,” he said.
They will be displayed alongside the regiment’s more recent colours.
The Huntingdonshire Regiment can trace its history back to 1702 and became known as the 31st Huntingdonshire Regiment of Foot in 1782, seeing active service for the next 99 years and being granted 17 battle honours.
It eventually became part of the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment following a number of amalgamations.
The regimental colours were presented to the regiment 170 years ago by Prince George, Duke of Cambridge, and were retired in 1864 before being laid up in St Mary’s Church, Huntingdon, for many years.
A taking of the salt ceremony is still carried out today by the PWRR using the 31st Huntingdonshire’s regimental salt cellar.
Town clerk Philip Peacock told the parade that the council was “proud and honoured” to record its appreciation to the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.
He said; “It is therefore fitting and appropriate today, with the return of the 31st Huntingdonshire Regiment of Foot colours, we rekindle the flame of the 31st Huntingdonshire Regiment with the ties of friendship to the successor regiment, the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment.”
In an exchange of gifts, the regiment presented the council with a replica of the colours.