Soldiers from Wiltshire based 4REME are quite happy to get their hands dirty repairing the army’s vehicles, from tanks to earth moving equipment.

But they were immaculate on parade at Wellington Barracks, London as they prepared for public duties at the capital's royal palaces.

Inspection of ceremonial uniform and drill was carried out by the Household Division’s senior officers before they were declared fit to start their duties.

It was a proud moment because the Tidworth battalion is the first REME sub-unit to conduct state ceremonial public duties since 1992. Over the next two and a half months, the 93 soldiers will be guarding the Tower of London, St James Palace, Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace.

Company commander Maj John Vance said: “It is a huge privilege for us to be providing a ceremonial guard to Her Majesty The Queen. Following intensive training the whole team are now ready and excited to step out in front of the public for this unique task.”

The REME soldiers are skilled in seven different trades: Vehicle Mechanic, Recovery Mechanic, Metalsmith, Armourer, Electronics Technician, Technical Support Specialist, Avionics Technician and Aircraft Technician. Before conducting Public Duties, the Company spent three months in Sennelager, Germany fixing a variety of armoured and wheeled vehicles such as the Challenger 2 Battle Tanks and Bulldog Armoured Personnel Carriers, to ensure British Army units serving in Estonia had full capability.

L/Cpl Shaun Pimlott added: “It is such a different role from my usual job as a Metalsmith. “But it is an absolute honour to represent our Corps and Army in this way.”

As well as annual mandatory training which ensures every soldier is trained for the real time security threat, there have been intensive drill periods delivered by Warrant Officer Dianne Miller and ceremonial experts from the Coldstream Guards.

Lt Emile Ramsay said: “The training has been hard. To make such a dramatic change in our working days has required a lot of effort from every individual, and they have shown real determination from the very start, which shows the enthusiasm these soldiers have to conduct the duty.

“The achievement of passing the fit for role inspection cannot be underestimated. The majority of REME soldiers will never have done drill with a rifle before. Due to the restrictions imposed by Covid those who most recently joined the Army didn’t have passing out parades. So to go from zero to ceremonial excellence in a matter of a few months is impressive indeed and an indicator of their all-round agility, adaptability and capability as soldiers.”

Musical support will be provided during the REME’s forthcoming changing of the guard ceremonies by the British Army Band Tidworth who were also subject to inspection today.

Usually the high-profile duties of the Queen’s Guard are carried out by a regiment of Foot Guards who are accompanied on the ceremony of changing of the guard by their regimental band. To allow the Foot Guards to undertake vital operational training or deployments, from time to time their iconic ceremonial role is taken by other units from the UK and Commonwealth forces.