A Canadian soldier has become first female infantry officer to captain the Queen’s Guard, a honor that comes as Canada marks its 150th anniversary.
Capt. Megan Couto, 24, led the Queen’s Guard on Monday, June 26, while in Britain with other Canadian soldiers on the queen’s invitation.
Couto said she had heard from U.K. drill instructors visiting Canada that they had never seen a female captain of the guard.
“I didn’t really think too much about it,” she said.
Then when she arrived in the U.K. one of Queen’s Guard captains told her he was thinking of stepping aside so she could take his job for a day.
“We heard that I would be the first and so we asked permission and it was given the go ahead. We’re very happy,” she said.
Couto said she didn’t know if the role would have any special meaning or represent anything, though she was happy to be seen as an equal by her peers.
“Any one of my peers would be absolutely delighted to be the captain of the guard here and so I feel equally honored to be given the opportunity, regardless of my gender,” she said.
Queen Elizabeth II invited Canadian soldiers to assume ceremonial duties as part of the celebrations to mark the day when Canada went from being a British colony to becoming its own nation.
Canada still maintains a deep connection to the U.K. It is part of the Commonwealth of Nations and 1 of 15 nations that still has 91-year-old Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state.
Guard duties are normally carried out by troops from the Household Division. They have protected the queen and royal palaces since 1660.
When Queen Elizabeth’s great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria moved to Buckingham Palace in 1837, a detachment of that unit began acting as the Queen’s Guard there.