What seemed like an ordinary day for the Household Cavalry Regiment at Combermere Barracks, Windsor, was in fact very special for veteran Alf Lawes.
A veteran of the Household Cavalry, he turned 100 today, and to mark the milestone, his old regiment pulled-out all the stops.
Inside the mess, hundreds of current members of the Household Cavalry awaited his arrival.
The Second World War veteran was greeted by Field marshal the Lord Guthrie, who’s colonel of the Life Guards and Gold Stick.
Today he received the Legion D’honneur from the french government, in recognition of his service in liberating that country.
Alf’s entire family attended the event and the birthday boy was quite overcome by the attention; he said:
“I had no idea it was going to happen. It’s very nice- I’ve seen all sorts of people that I never even knew existed!”.
And one young soldier was keen to get a photograph to Alf: “I believe that he’s part of history. Standing there listening to the speech it was quite overwhelming actually, and I thought I’ve got to get a photo with him.”
At 100-years-young, this is a milestone for Alf Lawes- one that has been celebrated by his old regiment and his family, and honoured by France - the country he helped free.
Who Are The Gold Stick?
The position of Gold Stick reportedly dates back to 1678, where two officers were assigned to guard the Queen during the Popish Plot scare of 1678.
The truncheon traditionally carried by the officer was therefore originally meant as a weapon used to protect Charles II.
Today, the Gold and Silver Stick act as ceremonial bodyguards.
The role is now carried out by the Colonels of the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals, as both are regiments of the Household Cavalry, who are charged with protecting the queen.
Now, the job of the Gold and Silver stick is to attend state occasions and take part in processions for ceremonies such as the Coronation, and the State Opening of Parliament.
The current Colonel of the Life Guards is Field-Marshal the Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, former Chief of the Defence Staff.
The Silver Stick is the Commander of the Household Cavalry and holds the rank of colonel.