Honor guard

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The United States Army Drill Team
Malaysia honor guard
This article is about military honor guard units. For the ceremonial event, see Guard of honour.

An honor guard, or ceremonial guard, is a ceremonial unit, usually military in nature and composed of volunteers who are carefully screened for their physical ability and dexterity. Only those persons who are highly motivated and maintain exceptionally high standards of appearance and conduct and show aptitude for ceremonial duty are likely to be considered.

A primary role for honor guards in the United States and some other countries is to provide funeral honors for fallen comrades and to guard national monuments. An honor guard may also serve as the "guardians of the colors" by displaying and escorting the national flag on ceremonial occasions at official state functions. Finally, honor guards usually provide detachments for review by visiting heads of state. Honor guards also serve in the civilian world for fallen police officers and other civil servants. Persons serving in this capacity may or may not be designated, meaning they may not be assigned to serve each and every time there is a funeral in their jurisdiction.

In the U.S., military honor guards may serve as ambassadors to the public, presenting a positive image of their service, and assisting with the recruiting effort.

Honor guards around the world[edit]

Britain and the Commonwealth[edit]

Australia[edit]

The tri-service Federation Guard provides guards of honour for various ceremonies.


Canada[edit]

Canadian Grenadier Guards on memorial duty in Ottawa, Ontario

The Canadian guard of honour comes from all branches of the Canadian Forces. The Canadian guard of honour participates in ceremonies such as Canada Day and in carrying fallen soldiers from transport planes arriving from Afghanistan.

India[edit]

Members of the Indian IAF during a guard of honor ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan to Brazilian President.

In India, the Guard of Honour is provided by men drawn from three services of the Indian military: the Indian Army, Indian Air Force and Indian Navy.

Malaysia[edit]

The Honor Guard in Malaysia usually consists of the Royal Malay Regiments which performs most ceremonial duties in Malaysia such as Warrior's Day, visitation of diplomats, National Day, guard duties at the Royal Palace of Malaysia and many more.

Pakistan[edit]

A Pakistani Honor Guard prepares for the arrival of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates at the Army's Martyr's Monument.

In Pakistan, the Guard of Honour is provided by men drawn from three services of the Pakistan Armed Forces. The Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force and the Pakistan Navy.

Singapore[edit]

The Honor Guards of Singapore are handpicked from all three services to be at the forefront of major parades and state events such as the National Day. They dress in ceremonial attire and will have bayonets attached to their rifles. They will usually be contrasted by one or more contingents of men in regular uniform.

Sri Lanka[edit]

In Sri Lanka, the Guard of Honour is provided by men drawn from three services of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. The Sri Lanka Army, the Sri Lanka Navy and the Sri Lanka Air Force. During the colonial era the Lascarins provided the local honor guards apart from British Army, British Indian Army or Ceylon Defence Force personal. Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was assaulted by a member of the naval guard of honour in Sri Lanka.[citation needed]

South Africa[edit]

The Honor Guard in South Africa is the State President's Unit (Staatspresidentseenheid) from .[1]

United Kingdom[edit]

Coldstream Guards performing the guard change at Windsor Castle

A guard of honour is a ceremonial practice to honour dignitaries. 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.[2]

Units which traditionally perform ceremonial duties such as changing the guard (Queen's Guard) or Trooping the Colour are the five regiments of Foot Guards and the Household Cavalry (Blues and Royals and Life Guards) which form the Household Division. The Royal Air Force's ceremonial unit is the Queen's Colour Squadron. The British Armed Forces do not have dedicated ceremonial units, although some units such as the Scots Guards have a battalion designated to perform "public duties". Generally, units from all three services not deployed overseas will rotate and share public duties at various major historic landmarks (e.g. Royal Palaces and castles) through the country.

The Queen's Guard is primarily made up of units from the Household Division for Royal Palaces and public monuments – namely Buckingham, St James's, Windsor and the Tower of London – and other units from all three services of the British Armed Forces filling in when not deployed; in Scotland, the Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle are usually the responsibility of Scottish regiments or units based in Edinburgh.[3] Occasionally units from Commonwealth militaries are given the honour.[4]

Argentina[edit]

Mounted Grenadiers of "San Martín", for the Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov's arrival, San Martín Square, Buenos Aires.

Regiment of Mounted Grenadiers (Argentina). Still serving as part of the Argentine Army, they are the presidential guard and ceremonial companions. Two unmounted grenadiers are stationed in front of the Pink House as a symbol of the ceremonial and honor guard.

Brazil[edit]

The Brazilian armed forces and police have several troops for ceremonial usages. The most important of them is the Brazilian president's honor guard. It is composed of the 1st Guards Cavalry Regiment (1o Regimento de Cavalaria de Guardas – RCG, in Portuguese) – "Independence Dragoons", the Presidential Guard Battalion (Batalhão da Guarda Presidencial – BGP, in Portuguese) and the Cayenne Battery (formally, the Historical Cayenne Battery – Bateria Histórica Caiena, in Portuguese).

Bulgaria[edit]

National Guards Unit (Bulgarian: Национална гвардейска част) includes military units for army salute ceremonials, a band and a wind orchestra.

In 2001 the National Guards Unit was declared the official military unit representing the Bulgarian Army and one of the symbols of modern state authority along with the flag, the coat of arms and the national anthem.

China(People's Republic of China)[edit]

Honor guards, as known as Combined Honor Guard of the People's Liberation Army, are provided by the Capital Garrison in Beijing. They marched as the first division in the military parade of the 35th anniversary, 50th anniversary and 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

Colombia[edit]

The 37th Infantry Presidential Guard Battalion, composed of five companies, a historical company and one artillery battery plus a military band, a fanfare trumpet section and Corps of Drums, is the President of Colombia's honor guard service regiment under the National Army of Colombia. It is stationed at the Casa de Nariño in Bogota and carries the traditions of Simon Bolivar's infantry guards company raised in the midst of the Spanish American wars of independence in 1815.

Croatia[edit]

In Croatia, the Honor Guard Battalion serves as the guard of honor. The Honor Guard Battalion performs protocol tasks for the needs of top-level state and military officials, as well as tasks related to the protection and security of the Commander-in-Chief (President of the Republic of Croatia). It consist of up to 300 members.

Czech Republic[edit]

A member of Czech Castle Guard

Ceremonial duties are usually served by the Castle Guard, a special unit of the armed forces of the Czech Republic, organized under the Military Office of the President of the Czech Republic, directly subordinate to the President of the Republic.

France[edit]

The Republican Guard of the French Gendarmerie provides both foot and horse-mounted guards of honor.

Germany[edit]

Soldiers of the German Wachbataillon executing a Großer Zapfenstreich.

The primary mission of the Wachbataillon is to perform the military honors for the German Federal President, Federal Chancellor, Federal Minister of Defense and the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr during state visits or on similar occasions. In addition, the Wachbataillon takes part in military events and ceremonies of major importance. A secondary mission is to perform ceremonial guard duty at the Ministry of Defense and other high-profile public places, and protect and guard the members of the German government and the Ministry of Defense.

Greece[edit]

In Greece, the Presidential Guard is an elite unit of the Greek Army having the privilege to guard the Monument of the Unknown Soldier and the Presidential Palace. Its members, mostly known as Evzones must be taller than 1.85m and are trained hard as their duty includes standing completely still for more than an hour 4 times a day. They are famous for their military discipline, the ability to stand motionless without even blinking, their stylish walking and the uniform which derives from all the wars Greece has participated in.

Hungary[edit]

The MH 32. Budapest Őr- és Díszezred welcome the President of the United States on 22 June 2006. Mounted hussars can be seen along the top.

The Honor Guard in Hungary was the HDF 32nd Budapest Guard and Ceremonial Regiment (Hungarian: 'MH 32. Budapest Őr- és Díszezred') until 31 December 2006, then disbanded. From 1 January 2007 was the Ceremonial Battalion branch, part of the MH Támogató Dandár (MH TD, HDF Support Brigade) until 31 December 2010. Converted from 1 January 2011 to Nemzeti Honvéd Díszegység (National Home Defense Ceremonial Band) as part of the MH TD and achieved the service from 25 April.[5][6]

Italy[edit]

Italian Corazzieri on parade, in high uniform and riding horses.

In Italy the unit institutionally intended to act as an honor guard to the President of the Italian Republic is the Corazzieri Regiment, a special branch of the Carabinieri. The Corazzieri follow the President during official occasions and are also partly responsible for the internal security of the Quirinal Palace.

In addition to the Corazzieri, there are other honor units chosen from the different Armed Forces, specifically for representation purposes. These units have to stand guard at important places, such as the gates of the seats of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in the Altar of the Homeland, and at the gates of the Quirinal Palace. Example of honor units from the different Armed Forces are:

Also, during state funerals, honor guards are granted to the departed by the protocol.[7] The guards are positioned at the entrance and the exit of the place in which the ceremony is held.

Macedonia[edit]

A member of the Macedonian National Guard (in the middle). The soldier wears the old uniform.

The Macedonian Guard (македонска гарда, makedonska garda) is part of the Army of the Republic of Macedonia which is mainly used for ceremonial purposes. It is the personal guard of the President of the Republic of Macedonia. The National Guard an be often seen near the presidential palace, during official visits of foreign presidents or delegations, ceremonies and during the days of the flag. In 2010 the Ministry of Defence proposed and designed new uniforms for the guards. Both, the old and the new uniforms, are based on the uniforms of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) revolutionaries with some details of the other periods of the history of the Republic of Macedonia. Influence over the new design had the revolutionary Dedo Iljo Maleshevski, ancient Macedonian uniforms and the uniforms of the Macedonian regiment from Ukraine from 19 c.[8]

Mexico[edit]

The Honor Guard in Mexico is made up of members selected from the Navy, Army or Air force. Some of their duties include protection of the Mexican flag in Zocalo, and the raising and lowering of it. Also, are those who are selected from another scout (Mexican historic society: Eagle warrior and Cougar Warriors, schools, sports centers, celebrities, etc.)

Poland[edit]

The Honor Guard in Poland is the Batalion Reprezentacyjny Wojska Polskiego (Ceremonial Battalion of Polish Forces) from 1 January 2001.[9]

Philippines[edit]

The Honor Guard in the Philippines was composed of Presidential Guard (Phillipines), PSG and Palace Guards, The regiment is present at ceremonial events and during visits from international officials.

Romania[edit]

Romanian 30th Guard Regiment on parade during 1 December celebrations

The Honor Guard in Romania is Regimentul 30 Gardă „Mihai Viteazul” (30th Guard Regiment "Michael the Brave"). The regiment is present at ceremonial events and during visits from international officials.

Russia[edit]

The Russian military honor guard welcomes U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (Moscow).

Russia's primary honour guard is the Kremlin Regiment of the Federal Protective Service of the Russian Federation, established in 1936.

Sweden[edit]

The soldier belongs to the Dragoons Battalion of the Swedish Life Guards.

Honor guard service is carried out by all units of the Swedish Armed Forces, although the Life Guards regiment (Livgardet) in the Swedish Army accounts for the main part of honor guard services.

The Royal Guards (Högvakten) at the Stockholm Palace and the Drottningholm Palace is the honor guard to the King of Sweden. The service is carried out by the Life Guards as well as other units of the Swedish Armed Forces including the Home Guard and other voluntary defence organisations.

The Grenadier company of the Life Guards is used as an honor guard at state visit welcoming ceremonies. A detachment of grenadiers is also used as honor guard at the opening of the Riksdag, when an incoming foreign ambassador meets with the King at an audience to present letters of credence and when the King attends an annual meeting of one of the Royal Academies.

Drabantvakt ("Royal Bodyguard"), commonly known as Karl XI:s drabanter ("The Bodyguard of Charles XI") and Karl XII:s drabanter ("The Bodyguard of Charles XII") is a ceremonial guard used at state occasions such as state visits, investiture of a monarch, royal weddings and funerals etc. The guard was formed in 1860 based on historical royal bodyguards. The design of the uniforms of the guard is inspired by, but not identical to uniforms used during the reign of Carles XI and Charles XII respectively. The guard consists of 24 soldiers and one officer selected from the Life Guards.

Taiwan(Republic of China)[edit]

In the Republic of China, the honor guard is provided by members from the three service branches of the Republic of China Armed Forces, including the ROC Army, ROC Navy and the ROC Air Force, usually present at the places as follows:

United States[edit]

Each military branch has its own honor guard: Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Most state national guard units have a ceremonial guard as well. The official honor guard of every branch is based in Washington, D.C., though nearly every military installation will have its own honor guard for local ceremonies and events. The honor guard units in Washington, D.C. represent the military as a whole and the United States as a nation, and perform numerous ceremonies on behalf of the President of the United States. The U.S. 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) is the pre-eminent honor guard, being the Presidential guard.

Arlington National Cemetery's Tomb of the Unknowns is guarded by members of the U.S. 3rd Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).

Vietnam[edit]

Changing of the guards at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum.

Honor guards are present at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]