On June 1 The Queen visited the London grounds of the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) to unveil a bronze bust of her likeness and to attend a reception with members of the unit. The occasion marked a celebration of her 64 years as the Captain-General of the Company, the longest reign of any Captain-General in its history. The bust was commissioned by the HAC and created by portrait sculptor Antony Dufort.
The Honourable Artillery Company is the Territorial Army unit responsible for the gun salutes near the Tower of London which famously mark major royal and state occasions. Of the Company’s 2,500 members, 400 are active members of the Army Reserve. Many of their number have served in Iraq and Afghanistan and two members of the Honourable Artillery Company have been killed in operations. They work in a variety of roles ranging from light surveillance to manning a 105mm light gun.
Lieutenant Colonal Mark Wood is the Commanding Officer of the HAC regiment and said of the occasion:
‘We’ve got a long and proud history and association with the Royal Family and the Queen in particular as her Captain-General. So to have her here today to mark her longest serving as our Captain-General has been absolutely amazing and we’re incredibly privileged, particularly in what is such a busy year for Her Majesty.’
He added: ‘Let’s not forget that essentially the Queen was, in modern language, a reservist in the Second World War…She understands the sacrifice of the members of the regiment and the value we add from ceremonial through to operational and charitable activities.’
The Queen registered as a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service on February 24, 1945 as Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor with the service number 230873. She qualified as a driver on April 14, 1945 and was promoted to junior commander five months later.