Sandhurst passing out parade rescheduled to prevent officers fainting in blazing heat

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The Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst - Paul Grover for the Telegraph
The Sovereign's Parade at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst - Paul Grover for the Telegraph

There is always the risk that soldiers taking part in their regiment’s passing out parade will do just that and faint after long hours of marching in serried rank and standing to ramrod attention.

But this year Sandhurst Military Academy is trying to minimise the risk by moving its Sovereign Parade to earlier in the day because of the extreme heat.

Senior officers fear unprecedented numbers of the junior officers on parade could succumb to the high temperatures if the parade is held during the hottest part of the day.

At the same time more medics than usual will be on standby during Friday’s parade, when temperatures are expected to climb to between 30C and 33C between midday and 6pm.

The parade will now be held at 9.30am when temperatures are expected to be a more manageable 22-25C, instead of the usual 11am start, with guests told to be in place by 7.30am.

It is understood that two soldiers collapsed during rehearsals for the parade held during the current hot spell, with others feeling unwell.

An Army spokesman said: “The Sovereign Parade at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst on Friday will be brought forward to 9.30am due to forecasted high temperatures.”

Junior officer faints - Tim Ockenden/PA Archive
Junior officer faints - Tim Ockenden/PA Archive

The Ministry of Defence said that it regularly reviews its activities when the UK expects excessive temperatures and that additional guidance is being provided to all personnel on preventing heat illness including sunburn and heatstroke.

Soldiers will be urged to take on additional water “to ensure they can continue to safely carry out their activities”.

The parade marks the completion of 44 weeks of intensive training for the Officer Cadets.

The Sovereign Parade, which dates back to 1948, takes place three times a year and marks the passing out of the Senior Divisions and their final parade.

There are three intakes over the course of the year at Sandhurst and all training Officers take part in the parade, which is inspected by the Queen, or her representative.

Representing Her Majesty on Friday will be Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

He will inspect the Senior Intake of the parade, give an address and present the prize winners’ awards including the coveted Sword of Honour to the Officer Cadet who in the opinion of the Commandant is the best of the intake.

The parade traditionally ends with the Adjutant riding their horse up the steps of Old College following the graduating Officer Cadets through the Grand Entrance.