Prince Charles’ “dismay” over Black Watch being merged
PRINCE Charles has told of his “dismay” over the Black Watch being merged with other Scottish regiments.
The Prince said he took no pleasure in being the historic regiment’s final colonel-in-chief.
In the foreword to a new book marking the regiment’s history, he showers praise on the regiment but says “no one was more dismayed than I” in 2004 when the change was announced.
The Prince’s comments come as the Black Watch, now a battalion in the Royal Regiment of Scotland since the 2006 merger, faces more changes in a new round of defence cuts.
The foreward makes clear the Prince hopes the battalion will have a future.
The book, titled “Highland Furies”, will be launched on Saturday after a laying up ceremony of the regiment’s colours.
The Prince wrote: “No-one was more dismayed than I when the announcement came in 2004 that the Black Watch was to merge with other Scottish regiments and I took no pleasure in knowing that I would therefore be not just the third, but the last colonel-in-chief.
“Happily, the name continues in the British Army’s order of battle and I take immense pride in the achievements of the Black Watch, 3rd battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland, of which I am privileged to be Royal Colonel.”
He goes on to say he hopes the book will inspire more officers and men to exceed what “a very fine regiment” has already achieved.
Though no decisions have yet been made, more amalgamations of the Scottish battalions are expected later this year.
Former Black Watch commander Lieutenant-General Sir Alistair Irwin, who contributed to the book, said the 2006 change was “a difficult time for everybody.”
He said: “Changes of that kind are never comfortable and never happy and never what anybody really wants but the world changes all the time.
“This new generation have made a conspicuous success of things.”
The book traces the Black Watch’s history back to 1739. The regiment fought in the American War of Independence, the bBattle of Waterloo, India, and the Crimea.
More recently the Black Watch have been sent on two tours of Afghanistan and were part of the 2003 invasion of Basra in Iraq.
Victoria Schofield, the book’s author, said: “The Black Watch is the oldest Highland regiment and one of the most famous military regiments in the world. It has an absolutely fascinating history that involves the stories of so many people and soldiers and families.
“If these cuts go ahead it really will be the end of the Black Watch.
“Everybody is very sad about it because it is such a historic name.”
The new plans are expected later this month, and they may see the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders abolished and merged with the Black Watch.
Speaking about the expected changes in the battalion, a spokesperson for the Prince said: “The Prince of Wales is the Royal Colonel of the Black Watch and as such will be kept informed of everything that’s going on.”
An Army spokesperson said: “We do acknowledge that change in any organisation is unsettling and emotional and this was the case for many, including the colonel-in-chief and many former members of the Black Watch, on the formation of the RRS (Royal Regiment of Scotland) six years ago.
“However, no organisation which wants to remain relevant can stay the same and it has to evolve with the fresh challenges it is faced with.
“What is important to those serving, however, is that they remain professional and well-trained members of a relevant and operationally-sound regiment within a modern Armed Forces and they continue to make history as they have always done.”
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