The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have kicked off St Patrick’s Day celebrations with a traditional parade of the Irish Guards.
Kate and her husband, who has been Colonel of the Irish Guards since 2011, are paying their annual visit to the 1st Battalion at their base in Hounslow, west London.
Paying sartorial tribute to Ireland’s national day, Kate donned traditional emerald green, teaming a buttoned coat with a matching floral hat and Gianvito Rossi pumps while her husband was dressed in full military attire.
The couple are set to be reunited with their furry friend Domhnall today, a seven-year-old Irish wolfhound and mascot they have met several times previously.
Domhnall, which is Gaelic for ‘world leader’, will lead 350 soldiers as they march on the Parade Square at Cavalry Barracks on Sunday morning.
The much-loved hound, who has his own Twitter account @officaligmascot and succeeded a dog named Conmael, joined the Irish Guards in 2012, a year after the Duke of Cambridge took on the role of the Guards’ royal colonel.
Princess on parade! Kate and her husband, who has been Colonel of the Irish Guards since 2011, are paying their annual visit to the 1st Battalion at their base in Hounslow, west London
Kate and William arrive in Hounslow to honour the Irish Guards on St. Patrick’s Day. Paying sartorial tribute to Ireland’s national day, Kate donned traditional green, teaming a military style coat with a black floral hat
The Duke of Cambridge salutes the Irish Guards following their traditional march past as the Duchess looks on. The the Duke of Cambridge took on the role of the Guards’ royal colonel in 2012, a year after his wedding
In a tradition stretching back more than a century, Kate will then present the sprigs of shamrock to officers and warrant officers, before a march past where her husband will take the salute.
The pair will then be toasted by the longest-serving Guardsman at the Guardsman’s Lunch, and the duchess will be thanked for presenting the shamrock.
Since 1901, when the regiment was first founded by order of Queen Victoria, the regiment’s parade has traditionally been presided over by a woman.
There was on exception in 1950, however, when King George VI presented the shamrocks to mark the Regiment’s 50 anniversary.
The shamrock’s three heart-shaped leaves represent Ireland and the Holy Trinity. God and country and, on St Patrick’s Day every year, it’s handed out to Irish Guards who fight and die in the British Armed Forces.
In times of war, the shamrock is shipped out to them to be tucked into their Kevlar helmets, and for those at home the ultimate honour is to have it presented by a senior female member of the royal family family.
A tradition begun in 1901 later became the trademark of the Queen Mother who maintained it until she died – once missing her favourite day’s racing at Cheltenham to be at the St Patrick’s Day parade.
It was later taken up by Princess Anne, however since 2012 the duty has fallen to the Duchess of Cambridge whose husband is the current royal colonel of the Irish Guards.
Kate has attended every year since – except for 2016, with her decision to remain at Anmer Hall with her two young children causing controversy – and is dressed in head-to-toe green.
At past parades, the Duke has sipped on a traditional pint of Guinness in a nod to the tradition of the day however last year Kate, who was heavily pregnant with Prince Louis, opted for a sparkling water instead.
One of the five regiments of the Foot Guards, the Irish Guards have been a part of the British army since 1900, when they were founded by a royal decree from Queen Victoria to commemorate the Irishmen who died fighting during the Boer War.
Since then, the Guards, who, like all Guards regiments boast the Queen as their colonel-in-chief, have fought in all the major 20th century conflicts and, more recently, led the British advance into Basra during the Iraq War in 2003.
The Guards were also among the last units to be deployed to Afghanistan and in 2013, were drafted in to play a mentoring role for local Afghan troops before being returned to the UK in time for the Queen’s birthday parade.
Three years of ceremonial duties for the Irish Guards came to an end in January and their main focus of the past 12 months was on exercise Askari Storm, a battlegroup exercise in Kenya.
It currently has troops deployed in Uganda, Jordan and Kenya, and training will ramp up in September ahead of missions to South Sudan and Iraq.
Alongside its role serving in British conflicts overseas, the Irish Guards also serve in ceremonial and public duties at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, St James’s Palace and the Tower of London.