British Army’s oldest regiment facing axe

London: The Coldstream Guards — the British Army’s oldest regiment watched by millions of tourists at the Changing Of The Guard at Buckingham Palace — may soon be a passe, a media report said.

The 360-year-old Coldstream Guards, dressed in red tunics and bearskin hats, is facing the axe as part of the UK Ministry of Defence’s plans to cut army troops from 101,000 to 80,000 troops by 2020, the ‘Sunday Express’ reported.

In fact, it’s the most likely casualty out of Britain’s five elite Footguard regiments; the Irish, Scottish and Welsh guards are likely to be saved for “reasons of regional sensitivity”, the report said.

However, top brass at the executive committee of the Army Board are understood to have decided to target the Coldstream regiment because it is less famous than the last of the five, the Grenadier Guards.

“It has caused a right old barney,” said a senior Army source. A brigadier labelled any move to axe one of Britain’s most famous regiments as an act of “unconscionable vandalism”.

But, the decision is said to have the “reluctant blessing” of British Queen, the regiment’s colonel-in-chief.

The Army source said the royal household “wants to be seen to be doing its part” and accepts that the oldest regiments must carry their share of the burden of the cuts, the newspaper said.

Coldstream Guards have served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

They came home from frontline service in Afghanistan only in April last year. Mac Finkill, vice-president of the Coldstream Guards Association, Middlesbrough, said: “We are the backbone of the British Army and the envy of the world. The Coldstream Guards are part of the fabric of this nation. It’s ridiculous to suggest you can erase this.” (PTI)

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