Guard of honour

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This article is about ceremonial event. For military honor guard units, see Honor guard. For the novel, see Guard of Honor.

A guard of honour is a ceremonial event practice in military and sports as a mark of respect.


In the military, a guard of honour is a ceremonial practice to honour visiting foreign dignitaries, or the fallen in war, or a ceremony for public figures who have died. In military weddings, especially those of commissioned officers, a guard comprising usually of service members of the same branch form the Saber arch.

The commander is three paces in front of the second file from the right and accompanies the personage for whom the guard is mounted. An officer carrying the Colour stands three paces in front of the centre; if there is a third officer he will be three paces in front of the second file from the other flank.[1]

A guard of honour is formed to present formal ceremonial compliments to Royal or Presidential dignitaries by a Guard not exceeding 100 personnel with other particular distinguished indivduals saluted by a Guard not exceeding 50 personnel. A Half Guard is a colloquial term describing a Guard of Honour of not more than 50 personnel.[2] Only a standard, guidon, Queen’s Colour or a banner presented by either a member of the Royal Family or the Governor-General, may be carried by a Royal Guard of Honour. Only a Regimental Colour or a Banner presented by a personage other than a member of the Royal Family may be carried on a half guard of honour. A smaller unit honouring distinquished visitors at a military installation is known as a quarter guard.

For dignitaries[edit]

A guard of honour could have a single service contingent (e.g. army) or it could be a tri service (inter service) affair. The Guard Commander, after saluting the dignitary (usually head of state), marches up to him or her and escorts him or her to inspect the Guard (soldiers in formation). During the salute, the national anthems of both the dignitary's country and the host country are usually played by a ceremonial band.

See also: Honour guard



Muttiah Muralitharan receives a guard of honour from his team mates, after breaking Courtney Walsh's record in Harare, Zimbabwe 2004.

In cricket, the guard of honour is used to celebrate the achievement of a player (usually a batsman). Normally used during a player's final game, it has also been used when a player breaks a world record. The players's team mates form a tunnel, with their bats forming the roof, and the successful player walks through. Notable use of the guard of honour includes the two times Brian Lara broke the world record for the highest individual score in test cricket, when Inzamam ul Haq retired from both ODIs and Test cricket and when South Africa gave Ricky Ponting a guard of honour when he walked in to bat during his last test innings.Sachin Tendulkar was also given a guard of honour by West Indies players when he walked in to bat during his last test innings. Sachin Tendulkar greeted by guard of honour in farewell Test for India from the pitch to pavallion.Jaques Kallis was also given the guard of honour by the Indian team in his final test match.

Association football[edit]

Jamie Carragher receiving a guard of honour from teammates and opposition players on the final match of his career.

In association football, in recent years teams have shown their appreciation to the champions of their own division. This involves the players of one team applauding the league winners (the other team) as they appear onto the pitch. The applauding team forms two lines to make a corridor, and the league winners run through the corridor, single file. For example, in the 2004–05 season, Manchester United performed one for the league winners Chelsea. Newcastle United also performed one on the last day of the season for Chelsea. Manchester United won the Premier League in the 2006-07 season and Chelsea performed one for them at the match between the two clubs at Stamford Bridge. Scottish Premier league team Rangers F.C squad performed the guard of honour for departing tallisman Dado Prso as he was a great influence on and off the field for the squad. On 7 May 2008, FC Barcelona formed the guard of honour for arch rivals Real Madrid after winning the 2007-08 season. This was ahead of the 152nd installment of El Clásico. On 11 July 2010, the second place finishers, Oranje (the Netherlands national football team) formed the guard of honour for the winners of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Spain national football team. A guard of honour was held on 5 November 2011 before the match between Sunderland and Manchester United for Sir Alex Ferguson for his 25 year contribution to the club. A guard of honour was held on 28 April 2013 by the Arsenal F.C. players after Manchester United won the league title for 20th time. A guard of honour was held on 13 May 2013 by Manchester United for Sir Alex Ferguson contributing his last home match after 27 years managing the Red Devils. Jamie Carragher was given a guard of honour during his last match of his career by his teammates and the opposition players on 19th May 2013.

Australian rules football[edit]

In Australian rules football, players will often form a guard of honour for those who are leaving the field after a landmark game or on their retirement game. For example, Fremantle formed a guard of honour for Fitzroy's last match in 1996. Melbourne and Essendon formed a guard in 2005 to honour Indian Ocean tsunami victim Troy Broadbridge. Collingwood and North Melbourne formed a guard of honour in 2006 for retiring player Saverio Rocca, who forged a successful goalkicking career at both clubs. After playing in the little league at half time of senior matches, the junior players line up to form a guard of honour for when the players return to the field.[3]


  1. ^ p.128 Guards of honour from Ceremonial 1912
  2. ^ RAF Drill and Ceremonial AP 818 7th Edition
  3. ^ Pedler, Emma (30 July 2013). "Port Power missed our guard of honour".