More than 300 leeks were presented today to soldiers and friends of the Welsh Guards to celebrate St David’s Day.
The Guards are celebrating early as this year the Saint’s Day, 1 March, falls on a Saturday.
The ceremony dates back to 1916, when the day was first marked with ceremonial leeks by Welsh Guards on the Somme. Since then, the event has been an annual highlight in the Guards’ calendar.
Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant Hapus!
300 leeks were given to soldiers and another 10 to members of the regimental association at Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow, Middlesex, and all on parade were wished a hearty “Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant Hapus!” – “Happy St David’s Day!”
Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Giles Harris said: “St David’s Day has always been a particularly important day for the Welsh Guards. We’ve celebrated it every year wherever we are since our foundation – in peace or war.
“We are fiercely proud of our Welsh origins and celebrating our patron Saint on St David’s Day is a key part of the year.
“This year in particular, which marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War has particular resonance for the Regiment. The Great War led to our formation on 26 February 1915 as the fifth and final Regiment of Foot Guards. Although we are presented with leeks to honour the Saint’s Day each year, we wear the emblem of the leek everyday, as it is an integral part of our uniform. You can see the famous symbol on our buttons and our cap badges, and we’re all proud of its association with Wales.”
King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd
According to ancient legend, King Cadwaladr of Gwynedd began the tradition when he ordered his soldiers to identify themselves by wearing the vegetable on their helmets in a fierce battle against the Saxons that took place in a leek field. The leek has long been a symbol of Wales: Shakespeare refers to the custom of Welsh soldiers wearing a leek as an “ancient tradition” in his history play Henry V.
As part of the day’s celebrations, families tucked into Welsh Cakes and watched the historic ceremony, which involved the 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards and the Band of the Welsh Guards, from the Corps of Army Music, who provided appropriate Welsh themed musical accompaniment.
Original article written by and sourced from – army.mod.uk