The last time the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery (RAA) consecrated its Royal Colours in 1971, Gunner Alexander Valiente’s grandfather escorted the retired King’s Banner off the parade ground at Victoria Barracks.
CAPTION: (L-R) Escort to the Queen’s Banner Australian Army Sergeant Daniel Stevens, Queen’s Banner Ensign Lieutenant Frederic Carter and Escort Sergeant Sean Bellert parade the Queen’s Banner at Victoria Barracks, Sydney. Story and photo by Corporal Jacob Joseph.
This month, Gunner Valiente walked the same path at a parade to present and consecrate a new Queen’s Banner to the regiment.
He escorted the ageing Colours, having been in service since his grandfather’s parade, one last time before a new banner was uncased.
“It’s a point of pride in the family, considering we were both in A Battery,” Gunner Valiente said.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime parade and an honour to do something so prestigious.”
To mark the regiment’s 100th birthday in 1971, the King’s Banner was replaced by the Queen’s Banner.
In 2019, the Representative Colonel Commandant for the RAA, Brigadier Simon Roach, wrote to Her Majesty the Queen requesting a replacement because of wear and tear.
Representatives from all the units of the RAA welcomed the new colours, marking a belated 150th anniversary of the regiment, postponed because of COVID-19 restrictions.
They were joined by the reviewing officer, the Governor-General Gen (retd) David Hurley, and Chief of Army Lieutenant-General Simon Stuart, who watched the gunners reaffirm their allegiance to the King before chaplains performed a multi-denominational consecration.
Following a tradition of the monarch being the captain general of the RAA, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was commander in chief.
Regimental Master Gunner Warrant Officer – Class 1 Anthony Hortle hoped the position would now pass to His Majesty The King.
However, Warrant Officer – Class 1 Hortle said this didn’t mean the colours would change to the King’s Banner next year when the King is consecrated.
“The Queen’s coronation was in 1953 but we still had the King’s Banner until 1971,” Warrant Officer – Class 1 Hortle said.
“The current Queen’s Banner is brand new so we probably won’t see a new banner for about another 20 years, depending on wear and tear.”
When this happens, the colours will be temporarily laid to rest at Victoria Barracks, the first home of A Battery, Australia’s oldest, continuous-permanent military unit, before moving to the Armour and Artillery Heritage Learning Centre in Puckapunyal, when construction is complete in 2024.