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Saturday, 1 July, 2000, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Female soldiers guard the palace
Male and female guard at Buckingham Palace
Eyes right: An historic first for women
Buckingham Palace rang to the brass band sounds of Waltzing Matilda on Saturday, as women took up sentry duty for the first time in history.

The tune also marked the first time in 12 years that Australian soldiers, four of whom are women, have protected Buckingham Palace and St James's Palace.

Guards outside Buckingham Palace
Swinging along to 'Skippy the Bush Kangaroo'
The military band went on to blast out the theme tune to the Australian TV show 'Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, as the Australian Federation Guard officially took up the Queen's Guard.

The history-making ceremony coincided with Australia Week, marking the centenary of Australia becoming part of the Commonwealth.

Captain Cynthia Anderson led the Buckingham Palace detachment in the morning parade and formally asked permission for the new guard to relieve the old guard.

The last time Australian soldiers protected the royal palaces was in 1988 to mark the bicentenary of Australia.

'Historic mile-post'

Before that, they had not been seen in the sentry boxes since the Coronation year in 1953.

Major General Evelyn Webb-Carter, commanding the Household Division, said: "The Centenary of Federation is an important mile-post in Australian history.

"The tri-service guard is unique in undertaking the duty and I am confident that those taking part will uphold the high standards and traditions of Australian forces."

The 150-strong Australian contingent will carry out their duty every other day until 20 July.

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27 Jun 00 | UK
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