Page last updated at 12:55 GMT, Wednesday, 29 July 2009 13:55 UK

First Sikhs to guard the Queen

Signaller Simranjit Singh and Lance Corporal Sarvjit Singh
The soldiers said they were proud to guard the Queen

Two Sikh soldiers have become the first of their religion to guard the Queen.

Signaller Simranjit "Sim" Singh, 26, from Coventry, now based at Colerne in Wiltshire, said: "I feel privileged to have this honour."

He is joined by Lance Corporal Sarvjit Singh, 28, who was born in India and joined the Army in 2004.

"My experience being a Sikh on the Queen's Guard is beyond words," he said. "It is a once in a lifetime opportunity."

Signaller Singh, who is serving with 21 Signal Regiment, became the first Sikh to be given the honour of guarding the Queen, the Army said.

Family proud

The soldier usually works in the headquarters of the motor transport department looking after vehicles and radio equipment.

"My family and friends are very proud of me being in the Army and have been down to watch the ceremony," he said.

Signaller Singh joined other members of his regiment guarding the Queen in May and will perform the duty for the last time on Friday.

When L/Cpl Singh, whose brother Ardash also serves in the regiment, learned his unit would be taking part in public duties this summer he quickly volunteered.

The soldier, based with 3 Regiment Army Air Corps, began guarding the Queen at the beginning of July and will continue the role until the end of August.

Mounting guard duty is normally carried out by the Guards of the Household Division in their distinctive scarlet tunics and bearskin hats, but when the units are busy with operational duties other regiments step in.

Turbans, long hair and beards are considered mandatory for Sikh men.

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