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The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Cap Badge of The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Cap Badge of The Royal Regiment of Scotland
Active 28 March 2006 -
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Type Line Infantry
Role 1st Battalion - Specialized Infantry
2nd Battalion - Light Infantry
3rd Battalion - Light Mechanized Infantry
4th Battalion - Mechanized Infantry
Balaklava Company - Public Duties Company
6th Battalion - TA Reserve
7th Battalion - TA Reserve
Size Six battalions
One company
Part of Scottish Division
Garrison/HQ RHQ - Edinburgh
1st Battalion - Edinburgh
2nd Battalion - Penicuik
3rd Battalion - Fort George
4th Battalion - Fallingbostel, Germany
Balaklava Company - Canterbury
6th Battalion - Glasgow
7th Battalion - Perth
Motto(s) "Nemo Me Impune Lacessit"
"No One Provokes Me With Impunity"
March Quick - Scotland the Brave
Slow - Royal Regiment of Scotland Slow March
Mascot(s) LCpl Cruachan IV (Shetland Pony)
Colonel in Chief HM The Queen
Colonel of
the Regiment
Lieutenant General A.J.N. Graham CB CBE
Tactical Recognition Flash Royal Regiment of Scotland TRF.png
Tartan Government 1A
Hackle Blackcock Feathers
From the Royal Scots and King's Own Scottish Borderers
Abbreviation SCOTS

The Royal Regiment of Scotland is the senior and only Scottish line infantry regiment of the British Army Infantry. It consists of four regular and two territorial battalions, plus an incremental company, each formerly an individual regiment (with the exception of the first battalion, which is an amalgamation of two regiments). However, each battalion maintains its former regimental Pipes & Drums to carry on the traditions of their antecedent regiments.

History[edit | edit source]

As part of restructuring in the British Army, the Royal Regiment of Scotland's creation was announced by the Secretary of State for Defence, Geoff Hoon in the House of Commons on 16 December 2004, after the merger of several regiments and the reduction in total regular infantry battalions from 40 to 36 was outlined in the defence white paper, Delivering Security in a Changing World, several months earlier.

The regiment consists of a total of seven battalions: one of these was formed by the amalgamation of the Royal Scots and King's Own Scottish Borderers, while the others are each formed from one of the remaining single-battalion regiments of the Scottish Division. Along with The Rifles, it is currently the largest infantry regiment in the British Army. Of all of the new regiments formed following the announcement of 16 December 2004, the Royal Regiment of Scotland is the only one where the former regimental titles have been prominently retained with the new numbered battalion designations as subtitles. There is however a common regimental cap badge, TRF, tartan, stable belt and Glengarry headdress but distinctively coloured hackles are also worn by each separate battalion on the Tam o' Shanter headdress in order to maintain their individual identity and the pipes and drums of each battalion continue to wear the ceremonial uniforms and tartans of their former regiments.

Along with The Rifles, The Royal Regiment of Scotland is also one of only two line infantry regiments to maintain its own regular military band within the Corps of Army Music, which was formed through the amalgamation of the Highland band and Lowland band of the Scottish Division. In addition, there are two Territorial bands, The Highland Band and The Lowland Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, which are administered by the regiment's two Territorial battalions. The regiment also has its own Parachute Display Team, the Golden Lions and shinty team, The Scots Shinty Club.[1]

In 1948, every regiment of line infantry was reduced to a single battalion. The subsequent process of reducing the overall number of infantry regiments in the Army through disbandment or amalgamation of the traditional county regiments that were formalised in the Childers Reforms of 1881 to form larger multi-battalion regiments, has continued to affect most of the British Army Infantry since the 1957 Defence White Paper outlined the first mergers. The creation of the Royal Regiment of Scotland encountered considerable opposition amongst former soldiers, conservatives and nationalist groups. It has been argued that the establishment of large regiments in the British Army during the 1960s, such as the Royal Green Jackets, The Light Infantry, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and Royal Anglian Regiment, quickly led to a loss of separate identity amongst the constituent battalions as personnel were posted back and forward.

The new regiment is also primarily a kilted one and there are concerns that the much older Lowland units, which traditionally wore trews, will be effectively absorbed into a Highland tradition. However, the Ministry of Defence's case that change was necessary in order to enhance operational efficiency through economies of scale, improve and create more flexible conditions of service and to resolve chronic recruiting and retention problems amongst the eight single-battalion Scottish regiments appears to have been accepted by the majority of serving personnel, and indeed was recommended by the then Chief of the General Staff, Sir Mike Jackson.


Soldiers from the former Regiments of the Scottish Division in Number 2. Pattern ceremonial dress, wearing the glengarry on the formation day of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Jackson delegated the decision on how the reduction of battalions would be achieved to the Council of Scottish Colonels. It is understood that at the meeting the Colonels were invited to speak in turn on how the reduction should be achieved. The Royal Scots Colonel speaking first on behalf of the senior regiment suggested that his regiment should be amalgamated with The King's Own Scottish Borderers, this suggestion was accepted by the remaining regiments less the The King's Own Scottish Borderers whose Colonel petitioned Jackson directly but to no avail. It is thought that the Colonel of The Royal Scots feared that his regiment would be disbanded due to its long term poor recruiting record and high reliance on Commonwealth recruits. The insistence in some quarters that the Scottish regiments must be treated as a special case, similar to the Guards Division, has not won wide support amongst the army at large.

The amalgamation remains an emotive one however because of the symbolic loss of historical continuity through the individual regimental status of each battalion. An organization called Save the Scottish Regiments [2] was created to campaign against the plan, and the influential newspaper The Scotsman also opposed it.

The status of the Black Watch was particularly controversial. When the plan to amalgamate the regiments was announced, the Black Watch was deployed at Camp Dogwood in a relatively dangerous region of Iraq. Hoon was accused by the SNP of "stabbing the soldiers in the back" and being motivated purely by political and administrative concerns, with little regard to the effect on morale. This controversy was further exacerbated by the revelation that a former Colonel of the Black Watch, Lieutenant-General Alistair Irwin, had originally drafted the Army Board proposals to amalgamate the Scottish Division.[3]

The regiment was initially formed of six regular battalions on 28 March 2006. On 1 August 2006, the Royal Scots Battalion and King's Own Scottish Borderers Battalion were amalgamated into the 1st Battalion, Royal Scots Borderers, leaving the final regular roll of five battalions. The Regimental Headquarters is located at Edinburgh Castle, although each regular battalion continues to maintain their own former regimental headquarters and museums within their respective recruiting areas.

In 2012, as part of the Army 2020 reform package, it was announced that the 5th Battalion, while not losing its name and history as the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, would be reduced to the status of an incremental company, similar to the three companies in the Guards Division, and be transferred to become a permanent public duties unit in Scotland.[4]

Organisation[edit | edit source]

Traditional recruiting districts of the five active regular battalions, a system originally introduced by the Cardwell Reforms in 1871

All battalions in the Royal Regiment of Scotland, to preserve regional ties and former regimental indentites, took the name of their former individual regiments.

^1 Royal Scots Borderers is the name of the combined Royal Scots and King's Own Scottish Borderers battalion.

Under the restructuring and the end of the arms plot, each regular battalion will be given a specific operational role:

Due to their relatively flexible nature, the three light role battalions will rotate periodically, with either the Royal Scots Borderers or Royal Highland Fusiliers having responsibility for public duties in Edinburgh depending upon which one is under the command of 52nd Infantry Brigade at the time. The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders will rotate the air assault role with two other line infantry/rifles battalions in 16th Air Assault Brigade; when it is not in this role, it will serve as a light role battalion in 52 Infantry Brigade. As an armoured unit, The Highlanders will remain in its fixed location as part of 7th Armoured Brigade in Germany. The two Territorial battalions come under the command of 51st (Scottish) Brigade, the Regional Brigade administering the TA in Scotland.

All this will change under Army 2020.

The regiment's Colonel-in-Chief is HM The Queen. The colonels-in-chief of the constituent regiments making up the new regiment have become the Royal Colonels of their representative battalions:

^2 The King's Own Scottish Borderers, now amalgamated with the Royal Scots to form the 1st Battalion, have not had a Colonel-in-Chief since the death of Princess Alice in 2004.
^3 Duke of Rothesay takes the title of Prince of Wales whilst outside Scotland.

Uniform and dress[edit | edit source]

Cap badge and motto[edit | edit source]

In August 2005, the new regimental cap badge was unveiled at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The design was the result of a collaborative effort, led by Brigadier Andrew Mackay, along with other serving and retired officers and Regimental Sergeant Majors, with advice from the Lord Lyon King of Arms. The new cap badge incorporates the Saltire of St Andrew and the Lion Rampant of the Royal Standard of Scotland, which are two prominent national symbols. As a Royal regiment, the cap badge is surmounted by a crown, in this case the Crown of Scotland. The regiment's motto is Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (No One Assails Me With Impunity) - which is the motto of the Order of the Thistle, Scotland's highest order of chivalry, and was also the motto of four of the pre-existing Scottish regiments.[5]

Dress[edit | edit source]

The new regiment's various Dress Uniforms incorporate a number of "golden threads" from the antecedent regiments.[6] Some of the most prominent include:

Hackles[edit | edit source]

While in PCS combat dress, each battalion wears its own unique coloured hackle on the Tam O'Shanter:

  • 1st Battalion - Black
  • 2nd Battalion - White
  • 3rd Battalion - Red
  • 4th Battalion - Blue
  • 5th Battalion - Green
  • 6th Battalion - Grey
  • 7th Battalion - Purple

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Mascot[edit | edit source]

The official mascot is a Shetland pony named Cruachan. He was originally the regimental mascot of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders prior to the amalgamation. The first pony mascot was presented to the Argylls in 1929 by HRH Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll and named after Ben Cruachan, a mountain in the Argylls' namesake lieutenancy, and the war cry of Clan Campbell, of whom the Duke of Argyll was chief.[11] The current mascot is Cruachan IV and was presented in late 2012.

Golden Lions[edit | edit source]

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|date= }} The Golden Lions Scottish Infantry Parachute Display Team were active from 1969 to 2010. The Golden Lions consisted of a team of up to 12 soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland. They were Gold Medal Winners in the Scottish National Championships and Tri-Service Championships for Canopy Formations. The Team was based in Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, and travelled all over Scotland providing displays for event organisers and Military Shows. The Golden Lions ceased due to MOD cutbacks in 2010.

Alliances[edit | edit source]

The status of previous alliances is unclear at this time, and it is believed that previous regimental alliances will not automatically be carried over to The Royal Regiment of Scotland. It is also unclear if alliances will be perpetuated by single battalions of the Royal Regiment, or to the regiment as a whole. Until the issue is decided, individual battalions will maintain the alliances of their antecedent regiments.

The Royal Scots Borderers
The Royal Highland Fusiliers
The Black Watch
The Highlanders
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders

Order of precedence[edit | edit source]

Preceded by
Welsh Guards
Infantry Order of Precedence Succeeded by
The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment

Lineage[edit | edit source]

The Royal Regiment of Scotland The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment)
The Royal Highland Fusiliers (Princess Margaret's Own Glasgow and Ayrshire Regiment) The Royal Scots Fusiliers
The Highland Light Infantry (City of Glasgow Regiment) The 71st (Highland) Light Infantry
The 74th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot
The King's Own Scottish Borderers
The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) The 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot
The 73rd Regiment of Foot
The Highlanders (Seaforth, Gordons and Camerons) The Queen's Own Highlanders (Seaforth and Camerons) The Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders
The Seaforth Highlanders (Ross-shire Buffs, The Duke of Albany's) The 72nd Regiment of Foot (The Duke of Albany's Own Highlanders)
The 78th (Highlanders) Regiment of Foot (The Ross-shire Buffs)
The Gordon Highlanders The 75th (Stirlingshire) Regiment of Foot
The 92nd (Gordon Highlanders) Regiment of Foot
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's) The 91st (Princess Louise's Argyllshire Highlanders) Regiment of Foot
The 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Regimental flag of the SCOTS

External links[edit | edit source]

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