AN ENGLISH Army battalion is becoming the first to be granted the freedom of the city of Edinburgh.
The 3rd Battalion The Rifles, who are currently serving in Afghanistan, will be granted the honour, known as the ‘privilege.’
The Battalion has close ties to the city, and were greeted with a huge parade on the Royal Mile in 2010 when they returned from deployment in Helmand.
The Battalion lost 30 riflemen in the deployment, and a permanent memorial was built at their barracks.
The honour means soldiers will be able to parade through the city “With drums beating, bayonets fixed and colours flying.”
Edinburgh council has also proposed recognising the whole Royal Regiment of Scotland and the 40th regiment Royal Artillery.
The Rifles are recruited from the North East of England, but have been based at Redford Barracks near Edinburgh for ten years.
There are 127 married soldiers with families from the battalion who live in Edinburgh.
Army spokeswoman Martine McNee said: “It is wonderful that Edinburgh City Council are considering this honour for these three units.
“All three have longstanding connections with Scotland, and with Edinburgh in particular, and, if bestowed, it will mean a lot to each and every soldier.”
Edinburgh Lord Provost George Grubb said: “Confering the ‘privilege’ on these three fine and historic regiments would be a clear and fitting demonstration of Edinburgh’s steadfast support for the brave men and women who put their lives at risk in service of this country.”
Eric Barry, a councillor for the Colinton and Fairmilehead ward, where many of the soldiers live, said: “These guys have earned any honour that the city cares to bestow. They deserve a greater honour than the freedom of the city.”
The privilege was given to the 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment in Scotland, and the current proposals would see it extended to the other six battalions in the Regiment.