Pupils and staff at Bedford School joined guests for a special royal visit yesterday.
The Duke of Gloucester, the first cousin of the Queen, inspected the Combined Cadet Force (CCF) contingents from Bedford School, Bedford Girls’ School, Bedford Modern School, St Andrew’s School, Rushmoor School and The Bedford Free School.
The Duke of Gloucester’s royal inspection, was of particular significance as it marked the centenary of the last royal inspection of both Bedford School and Bedford Modern School contingents in 1918, also at Bedford School, by the Duke’s grandfather, King George V.
Falling just after the end of the First World War, the inspection in 1918 poignantly commemorated the 470 Old Bedfordians who lost their lives in the conflict.
Those on parade at the time proudly represented boys and teachers they knew and respected who had lost their lives soon after leaving the school.
Fittingly, the Duke of Gloucester’s father, Prince Henry opened the school’s memorial hall in 1926, which also commemorates Old Bedfordians lost in the war, making the Duke of Gloucester’s visit all the more significant.
Speaking after the visit, Helen Nellis, Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, said: “It was wonderful to welcome The Duke of Gloucester to Bedford School during his three-part visit to the county of Bedfordshire.
“The Inspection of the Cadets was very impressive and it was particularly pleasing that he was able to unveil a plaque in the Memorial Hall where his late Father, HRH Prince Henry KG, stood in 1926.
“It was clear that the staff and students at all the schools involved were proud to demonstrate the high standards they achieve.”
Major Peter Lumley-Wood, Contingent Commander at Bedford School, said: “We were honoured to be inspected by his Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester. Our CCF forces and those of the schools of Bedford in attendance today have a proud tradition of service.
“The visit from the Duke of Gloucester some 100 years after that of his grandfather is testimony to the heritage of the schools and their commitment to the CCF.”
Major Alex Smith, Contingent Commander at Bedford Modern School said: “It was a great honour to parade in front of His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester today.
“The fact that we were able tocelebrate the good works of the Cadet Forces with a member of the Royal Family will stick in the minds of all who took part for many years to come.”
The Duke was met by the Lord Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, Helen Nellis and introduced to the headmasters and headmistress of the six schools that form the two combined CCF contingents and their contingent commanders.
The parade was then brought up to a general salute, followed by the inspection which finished with a march by the entire parade.
“The Duke also visited Bedford School’s Memorial Hall to unveil a plaque to mark the occasion, which sits alongside his father’s plaque from 1926.