Chocolate, beer, tapestries and the Grenadier Guards: four of Bruges' world famous quality exports. Three hundred and sixty years after they were first formed in the Flanders city, the Grenadier Guards, the first Regiment of British Army Foot Guards, crossed the English Channel to gather in their birthplace.
Nijmegen Company Grenadier Guards marched through Bruges on Saturday morning, in their iconic white plumed bearskins and red tunics, to the Guards' birthplace, the Royal Guild of St Sebastian, for a reception to celebrate their formation and also the 600th anniversary of the formation of the Guild, of which Her Majesty the Queen, TRH The Duke of Edinburgh, The Prince of Wales, The Duke of Gloucester and Major Lord Alexander Windsor, Earl of Ulster are members.
The Grenadier Guards were formed from men from Henry VIII’s Honourable Artillery Company who, during the English Civil War, had taken the then heir to the throne, Prince Charles, to Europe for his safety.
Following the execution of his father King Charles I, and the creation of Cromwell’s Commonwealth Republic in England, the young Charles II was sheltered by the Royal Guild of St Sebastian in the heart of Spanish run Flemish Bruges, and here he set up court and plotted the overthrow of Cromwell and the Restoration of the British Monarchy.
14 Victoria Crosses
The Grenadier Guards formed by King Charles II as 'The First Regiment of Foot Guards', have fought in almost every major campaign of the British Army. The Grenadier Guards boast a phenomenal 78 Battle Honours having served with distinction in campaigns throughout British history, particularly in the Napoleonic, Crimean, Boer, First and Second World Wars, winning a total of 14 Victoria Crosses and one George Cross. In the 21st Century they continue to serve their country with distinction and were one of the final units involved in ground combat in Afghanistan. A formidable force of hard and soft power the British Army’s Grenadier Guards are admired and recognised around the world.