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Princess Anne offers praise as Canada's oldest military regiment marks anniversary

MONCTON, N.B. — A visiting member of the Royal Family heaped praise on Canada's oldest continually serving cavalry regiment on Saturday, saying its storied military accomplishments date back to before it formally had a country to call its own.
Princess Anne (centre), Colonel Gregory Kennedy Command, 37 Canadian Brigade Group (left) and Moncton mayor Dawn Arnold (right) watch the march past during the 8th Canadian Hussars Exercise of the Freedom of the City of Moncton Parade on Saturday May 20, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ron Ward

MONCTON, N.B. — A visiting member of the Royal Family heaped praise on Canada's oldest continually serving cavalry regiment on Saturday, saying its storied military accomplishments date back to before it formally had a country to call its own. 

Princess Anne said the 8th Canadian Hussars, often referred to as the Princess Louise's, had amassed an impressive history of service during its 175-year history. 

Her remarks, made in her capacity as the regiment's colonel-in-chief, came in Moncton, N.B., amid a series of weekend festivities intended to mark a milestone anniversary for the southern New Brunswick unit.

"The regiment and its soldiers have provided continuous service to the province of New Brunswick and Canada for the last 175 years," she said in a morning speech. "And by anybody's standards, that's no mean achievement."

The princess — who donned the Hussars's red and blue colours and delivered her remarks outside Moncton's City Hall — noted the regiment's origins predate Canada's Confederation. 

She said its historical roots date back to the American Revolution, during which soldiers earned a "reputation for military excellence." 

Many troops later relocated to New Brunswick, and Anne said the modern regiment's official formation in 1848 was spurred in part by a desire to establish protection from its neighbour to the southwest. 

James Lockyer, the regiment's honorary colonel, also referenced its history in a recent interview.

"Its formation back in 1848, as a response to expansionist American ideology flowing from the Revolutionary War, and then picking up again during the Civil War, was quite remarkable," he told The Canadian Press in the lead-up to this weekend's anniversary festivities. 

"These were townsfolk, craftsmen, artisans, farmers who came together to defend New Brunswick at that time, and then subsequently, Canada. We are the oldest, continuous serving army regiment in Canada."

In its current incarnation, Anne said the 8th Hussars have continued to build on its early reputation and has contributed to major Canadian combat missions. Those included serving in both world wars as well as the conflict in Bosnia and Afghanistan, among others. 

"They … established an enviable reputation which requires hard work and commitment to maintain," she said. "And this weekend and this parade rather proves the point." 

Anne, sister to the King, has maintained a close relationship with the regiment since her appointment to the ceremonial rank of colonel-in-chief in June 1972.

She was slated to take part in a number of anniversary celebrations this weekend in Moncton and nearby Sussex, N.B., where the regiment has its headquarters.

In addition to meeting past and present regiment members, the princess was expected to attend a commemorative concert, a parade and a gala dinner over the course of the weekend celebrations.

She expressed her gratitude to the province and the City of Moncton for supporting the regiment.

"This is your regiment as a province and the support you give each other is vital," she said.

Lt.-Col. Colin Beazley, commanding officer of the 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise’s), said Anne has put the soldiers first.

"Her emphasis has been … and always will be, an interest in the soldiers. How the soldiers are feeling, how they're trained, what their morale is like, what their experiences are like," he said. 

"On the parade you've seen it — she stops and speaks to the soldiers individually. And I can attest to the fact that she's keenly interested, very engaging."

And while the unit is proud of its rich history, Beazley said its members play an important, present-day role in protecting the country's interests overseas and helping out at home when called, most recently after hurricanes.

"Our history is important to us," he said. "We see ourselves in the modern era as just a line-armoured unit serving Atlantic Canadians and Canadians at large under the orders of the Canadian Armed Forces."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2023. 

Hina Alam, The Canadian Press

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