|25 Feb 2023|
In the name of God the merciful, the compassionate. Commandant, Officer Cadets, staff of the Royal Military Academy, distinguished guests. I am honoured to represent Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second on this special occasion. And it’s not the first time I have had the privilege to attend the Sovereign’s Parade. Many years ago I was a cadet standing where you are now. The memories of that day have stayed with me making it a distinct pleasure to address today’s cadets and academy staff, their families and friends and the distinguished guests who join us.
My first-hand experience also allows me have a fair idea of what is occupying the minds of those present. The Commandant and his staff are thinking, well it’s been a great day so far, they’re hoping that my speech doesn’t rain on the parade. The graduating cadets are thinking hurry it up along, Sir, they want to get up those steps. The parents are thinking no, no don’t rush the tributes to our sons and daughters. Nothing could be a prouder moment for the families and friends of these fine cadets, and I should know my son Hussein is one of them. And the instructors, well having learnt from and endured under some splendid colour sergeants I know how much blood, sweat and tears go into achieving the standards required. You can see the fruits of your labours today. These cadets and their instructors have displayed outstanding precision and panache. Sandhurst at its best. The Senior Division, you were immaculate. What the rest of us must not forget is what lies behind this impressive performance. That is the iron self-discipline and mutual support on which great soldiering depends. Nowhere is this taught more effectively than here at the RMA, because as Sandhurst’s motto recognises one cannot lead unless one serves. In other words working with and supporting the success of others. You young officers have chosen a noble career of service. Wherever you go and whatever challenges you face you will stand as exemplars of duty, honour and resolve.
So let me say a few words directly to you as fellow officers. You and your soldiers will have unprecedented resources to hand. Over the course of your careers technology will advance relentlessly. But remember this first, nothing, nothing will substitute for the quality of your command. In the years ahead your soldiers will look to you for guidance and inspiration. They’ll want to know that you care for them and their families. They will model their behaviour on your integrity, They will get their courage from your steadfastness. And these attributes are not reserved for the military but are equally applicable in public service and business. These are huge and at times daunting responsibilities. You must strive to be the best, and understand you will not be alone. Your friends in your platoon and companies will be lifelong because you have learnt that working for each other is the way to succeed. Some of your most important friendships forged in the mud and rain of Brecon will be those with cadets from different countries, different cultures and religions. Indeed the enduring bonds that began here can help all of you lead the global understanding that a secure and peaceful future requires.
The second guiding thought is this. However far you careers take you, always remember where you started. This past year has given you memories you will not forget. The often horrible weather or the times you felt like throwing in the towel. And I know you will always remember the first time you were called sir even though we quickly learnt what Regimental Sergeant Majors really mean. “I will call you sir and you will call me sir. The difference is you mean it and I don’t”. But it’s just as important to remember the many who helped when things were toughest. Friends and family who cheered you on from the day you arrived here with your ironing boards. On behalf of her Majesty the Queen I thank them most sincerely. And I know how important they will be to you as you go out into this hugely exciting, challenging and at time dangerous career.
Third and last. Always act in a way you can be proud of. Not every day will be a good one, you will not win every battle but however many times you get dumped down in life you can, and must, get up again. In this profession of arms you are now where the buck stops. You are graduating because people believed in you. You must now believe in yourself and rise to the challenges ahead. However difficult, do what is right. Be confident in what your instructors have taught you. Take strength from your family and faith, and above all my fellow officers never stop serving to lead. – Oh and never stop bulling your shoes. It’s a small humble task but small things are the beginning of everything. The journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.
Congratulations to you all and may you always be successful, happy and safe.
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