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Sikh soldier in UK wears turban on palace guard duty

Source : PTI
Last Updated: Wed, Dec 12, 2012 18:52 hrs

London: A Sikh soldier in the UK has made history by becoming the first guardsman to wear a turban rather than a bearskin at the Buckingham Palace here, breaking over a century-old tradition.

Jatinderpal Singh Bhullar, 25, has been allowed to break hundreds of years of tradition to observe his religion as he joins colleagues from the Scots Guards on parade.

Bhullar, whose wish to shun the bearskin had sparked controversy, was spotted practising this morning at Wellington Barracks.

He was due outside the palace at 11.30am (local time) with colleagues from F Company.

"He is very excited and very proud," said a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman.

The Scots Guards, one of five foot regiments who guard the Queen, have worn bearskins on parade since 1832.

The decision to exempt Guardsman Bhullar, from Birmingham, was criticised by former members of his regiment but sparked a Facebook campaign in his support.

The former bricklayer passed out as a Scots Guard last month after abandoning plans to become the first Sikh Paratrooper.

"Conducting public duties while being a practising Sikh and wearing my turban is a great honour for me. I am very proud to be a member of the Household Division and to be the first Sikh Guardsman to mount guard in a turban will be the best thing in my life, especially as a member of the Scots Guards," Bhullar said.

"The regiment is full of history, as is my religion," he added.

The Ministry of Defence said he had the "full support of the Army and his colleagues".

His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Howieson, 1st Battalion Scot Guards, said: "The precedent for Sikh soldiers wearing turbans on parade in preference to other head dress was set long ago and it is the British Army norm."

"We welcome the additional diversity; Guardsman Bhullar will join brother Guardsmen of a wide range of ethnicities, religions and denominations," Howieson said.

"When Guardsman Bhullar marches onto Buckingham Palace Forecourt for the first time, we, his regiment, will be very proud of him as he writes another chapter in our long, distinguished history," he added.


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