The nasty weather could not dampen the celebratory atmosphere or spirits of the military families and military guests as they, along with the Countess of Wessex, welcomed the return of the 5th Battalion The Rifles (5 Rifles). They have just successfully completed a nine-month tour of Estonia.
Over 450 soldiers and officers from the Battalion based at Bulford paraded before their families and Her Royal Highness who also serves as their Royal Colonel.
Wearing a RIFLES Regimental brooch, Sophie addressed the parade: “As your Royal Colonel I am deeply proud that 5 Rifles were the first Battalion of UK soldiers to arrive in Estonia at the start of the NATO campaign to support our Estonian friends.
“There were many eyes both from the east and the west upon you during this deployment and you had many visitors to you during your tour.
“Lastly to my Riflemen I say this, I continue to be a very proud Royal Colonel of this Battalion and I am honoured to play a small part in the life of what you do and what you represent, you have and you do an amazing job. Thank you for being such incredible Ambassadors of our Armed Forces and of our country.”
The Battalion then gave Her Royal Highness a Royal Salute. The parade concluded with ‘Double past’ to the regimental march of The Keel Row and Road to the Isles played by The Band and Bugles of The Rifles.
After the parade’s conclusion, the Countess spent some time talking with family members who also observed the parade. Sophie wasn’t the only distinguished guest to welcome the soldiers. Others included the Lord Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Rose Troughton and the Mayor of Salisbury, Cllr John Lindley.
The military guests included the Commander of 20 Armoured Brigade, Brigadier Mike Ellis, the Estonian Ambassador, Siiri Liivanki, the Commander of the Estonian 1st Brigade, Colonel Velko Velio-Palm and French and Danish officers who served with the battalion in Estonia.