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Drum major’s turn in Trooping the Colour to mark end of 40-year career

Steve Staite, 55, has taken part in the centuries-old military spectacle at least 26 times.

A drum major is poised to parade in his final Trooping the Colour on a day which will also mark the end of his four-decade career in the British Army.

The centuries-old military spectacle of might, splendour and precision marching will take place on Horse Guards Parade this Saturday to mark the Queen’s official birthday.

It is an important day in the armed forces’ calendar and for the monarchy, where the families and friends of those on parade proudly watch the ceremony.

For Drum Major Steve Staite, who has taken part in Trooping the Colour at least 26 times – 17 as drum major, something the Army claim is a world record – this year’s Queen’s birthday parade carries extra significance.

“I am very excited to be doing my final Queen’s birthday parade, it is a culmination of my career over the four decades,” he said.

Drum Major Staite outside the Officers Mess in Munster in 1986 (Drum Major Staite/PA)

“And what better day to go out on than the Queen’s birthday?”

The 55-year-old who is originally from Preston, Lancashire, joined the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards at the age of 16 on June 19 1979 and was appointed drum major to the Queen in 1995.

“We are personal drummers to her majesty, we get a royal warrant signed to that effect, and it is the greatest honour in the world, you can’t beat it,” he told the Press Association.

As one of five drum majors wearing the elaborate gold-thread state clothing, during Trooping the Colour he marches one of the divisions up to Horse Guards to get them on to parade.

Drum Major Staite also leads one of the massed bands during the parade in slow and quick time – something the father-of-two agreed very few people get to do.

“A lot of people tell you it is great to march behind a band, but you can’t beat marching in front of it,” he said.

During his career Drum Major Staite said he has visited 40 of the 50 states in America, and has worked in Kenya, Northern Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iraq.

It was during a posting to West Berlin on his first deployment that he also patrolled the Berlin Wall and guarded Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess, when he was held at Spandau prison.

Drum Major Staite (left) during the Queen’s Birthday Parade in 2015 (Corporal Daniel Wiepen/Crown Copyright/PA)

Quizzed on what that experience was like, Drum Major Staite who plans on retiring to Middlesbrough with his wife Fee, said: “You just sat in a sanger at Spandau prison.

“You weren’t really allowed to look into the yard, it was just a normal prison with one person in it. But driving around the Berlin wall in those days was something very, very different.”

Posted to Household Division headquarters in 2000, he was involved in the funeral of the Queen Mother and Lady Margaret Thatcher, the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games and the royal weddings of Prince Charles and Prince William.

June 9 will mark 38 years 355 days in uniform for Drum Major Staite, who described his impending last Trooping the Colour as a “very special moment”.

He has also chosen the march the Grenadier Guards will step on to Horse Guards to, which is Wadi Al Batin – a battle honour from the 1991 Gulf War – in which he fought.

“Marching on to parade with the band playing Wadi al Batin for me, which is the march I chose, that will be quite emotional,” he added.

Once the parade is finished Drum Major Staite said his state clothing will have to be handed back, something he said he will probably do “with a tear in my eye”.


From Belfast Telegraph