Public duties

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A member of the Household Cavalry standing watch in London

Public duties are performed by military personnel, and usually have a ceremonial or historic significance rather than an overtly operational role.


Since September 2018, the Honour Guard Battalion of the Ministry of Defense of Armenia has been responsible for performing public duties at the President's Residence in Yerevan, the national capital. A pair of ceremonial guards are posted at two sentry boxes in the front of the residence and are relieved in a brief guard mounting ceremony and an exhibition drill. Guards are posted every weekend in the afternoon and evening hours and on national holidays.[1]



Public duties in Ottawa, the capital of Canada, involves mounting the guard at Parliament Hill; and Rideau Hall, the official residence for the Monarch, and the Governor General of Canada. Public duties are primarily performed by the two regiments of Foot Guards, the Canadian Grenadier Guards and the Governor General's Foot Guards. The two regiments, alongside with the Governor General's Horse Guards, make up Canada's Household Division. Detachments from the Canadian Grenadier Guards, and the Governor Generals Horse Guards assigned to public duties around Parliament Hill form an ad hoc unit, known as the Ceremonial Guard.

The Ceremonial Guard has also been tasked to mount sentries at the National War Memorial near Parliament Hill. In addition, the Governor General's Foot Guards have often been called upon to perform additional public duties in Ottawa.

In addition to the Foot Guards, other Canadian Army regiments can also serve in this capacity on authority of the Chief of Defence Staff. The guard at Parliament Hill and Rideau Hall are mounted daily from early June until late August, with the first parade usually on the Friday before Canada Day.

In addition to the Ceremonial Guard, each branch of the Canadian Forces maintains a Public Duties Task Force, which is drawn from units all over the country to represent that particular branch (e.g. RCAF Public Duties Air Task Force)

Quebec City[edit]

Sentries during the changing of the guard at the Citadelle of Quebec.

Public duties at the Citadelle of Quebec, a military installation in Quebec City, are carried out by the Royal 22nd Regiment. The military installation serves as the home station for the regiment, as well as the secondary official residence for the Monarch, and Governor General of Canada. The regiment carries out public duties at the Citadelle of Quebec from June to September.

Other areas[edit]

The changing of the guard is also performed at the official residences of the lieutenant governors of Canadian provinces, performing a similar ceremony to the one seen in Ottawa. The guard is usually mounted by personnel of the seniormost regiment of the province.


The Danish Royal Life Guard provide permanent guards to Amalienborg Palace.

There are two regiments in Denmark, who provide soldiers for public duties, the Royal Life Guard regiment and Guard Hussar Regiment. The Guard Hussar Regiment Mounted Squadron provide mounted escorts for the Royal family and foreign dignitaries, and carry ceremonial services for the Royal Danish Army.

The Royal Life Guards provide a permanent guard at the Amalienborg Palace, Kastellet (part of the old fortification of Copenhagen), Rosenborg Castle/garrison of the Royal Life Guards in Copenhagen and the garrison of Høvelte. On occasions guard is kept at Fredensborg Palace, Marselisborg Palace, Gråsten Palace, Christiansborg Palace and other locations inside the Danish realm.


The Wachregiment Berlin was founded in early 1921. In addition to genuine security duties, the unit was used for ceremonial public duties in the capital. The regiment was disbanded in June 1921 and shortly after was revived as Kommando der Wachtruppe (lit. Headquarters Guard Troop).

The Wachtruppe comprised seven companies, each drawn from one of the seven active army divisions. Each company served for three months before returning to its parent division. In this way, the Wachtruppe represented the whole Reichswehr.

The Kommando was based at Moabit Barracks, and every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, performed a modest changing of the guard ceremony for the public. On each Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday, the entire Wachtruppe, accompanied by the regimental band, marched from the barracks through the Brandenburg Gate and to the Berlin War Memorial, providing a greater spectacle for public view.

In 1934, the unit was renamed Wachtruppe Berlin and in 1936, a headquarters and administration company were added. In June 1937, the unit was again renamed Wach Regiment Berlin. Postings were now done by individuals, not entire companies, and each man served six-month tours of duty. The unit provided escorts and Guards of Honour for State Visits, Conferences and even the Olympic Games.

In 1939, the unit was reorganized as the Infantry Regiment Großdeutschland. While equipped as a field unit, the regiment also maintained a public duties detachment in the capital. The ceremonial guard was pressed into service during the July bomb plot in 1944 and helped round up conspirators in the capital.

In 1957, the post-war Bundeswehr established the Wachbataillon, a tri-service unit, for ceremonial duties.

United Kingdom[edit]


A sentry from the Scots Guards at the Buckingham Palace, one of several locations watched by the Queen's Guard.

Three infantry battalions of the British Army are currently tasked with the provision of Public Duties. Two of these are from the Foot Guards of the Household Division, and one (since 1996) is a line infantry battalion. The former are normally based at Wellington Barracks in central London, within a short distance of Buckingham Palace, and at Victoria Barracks in Windsor Castle, while the latter is at the Cavalry Barracks, Hounslow. Permanent Public Duties companies of the Foot Guards also supplement these men.

Apart from providing the Queen's Guard at Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace, and the Tower of London Guard, the Public Duties battalions occasionally also provide the Windsor Castle Guard, which is otherwise provided by the battalion based at Windsor. From 1783 to 1973, the Guards provided a nightly detachment called the Bank Picquet for guard duty at the Bank of England.


Sentries at Holyrood Castle. Soldiers are posted at several locations in Edinburgh when the Queen is in Scotland.

Public duties are also carried out in Edinburgh, although not as frequently as in London. Prior to 2002, sentries were permanently stationed at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle, but these were withdrawn due to cost-cutting measures. Today, sentries are posted during the evenings between 6 pm and 9 am, and throughout the week that HM The Queen spends in Edinburgh at both the castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Sentries are also posted at the castle during the month of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo prior to each performance, with the regiment forming a guard of honour at the end of each performance.

Unlike in London, there is no permanently based foot guards battalion stationed in Edinburgh, so public duties are performed by one of the resident line infantry/rifles battalions. However, as part of the Army 2020 plan, the Balaklava Company of the Royal Regiment of Scotland will be reduced to a single incremental company to be based permanently in Scotland for public duties.

United States[edit]

Washington, D.C.[edit]

Probably the best-known U.S. military unit to regularly engage in public duties is the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") of the U.S. Army. Since April 6, 1948, the regiment is tasked with perpetually guarding the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. The regiment also regularly takes part in White House ceremonies, including at state visits.

The other U.S. military services have their own ceremonial units.

See also[edit]

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