Former pupil Nick Champion (Class of ‘90) has been in service to the Royal Family since 1994. After leaving Robert Gordon’s, Nick served in the British Army from 1994 to 2011 and has been a part of the King's (formerly Her late Majesty's) Bodyguard for Scotland since 2018. Nick had the honour of being the Escort to the King's Colour as part of the Guard of Honour at St Giles' Cathedral for Her Majesty's arrival to Lie in State including standing vigil in Westminster Hall.
Nick shares "It has been a huge privilege to be intimately involved in a small way at this moment in our country's history. Her Majesty meant so many things to so many people but was, arguably, most respected for the enduring and unstinting service she gave to her subjects and her Country. Spending a year at the Royal Military Academy, whose motto is 'Serve to Lead,' learning, amongst other things, that we served our soldiers by leading them, not the other way around. The concept of being a servant leader was one Her Majesty, to whom we swore our oath of allegiance and who granted us our commissions, embodied and exemplified. To be able to serve her, in a small way, one final time, was an incredible honour.
"Having had the time to reflect on the last eleven days, it is fascinating to absorb what happened, ex post facto. During public ceremonial duties you can be so focused on getting the mechanics of each ceremonial function correct that some of the occasion can be masked. In a way, this can be a good thing as it prevents the occasion becoming overwhelming. I approached Her late Majesty's coffin five times in Westminster Hall, leading a vigil of two Archers, four Yeoman Warders and four Welsh Guards Officers towards the catafalque. It was not until the third rotation that I was conscious of seeing Her Royal Standard draped over her coffin in front of me as I approached the catafalque. It is incredible what you notice standing still, with your head bowed. Perhaps the most profound to me, personally, was noticing a girl of about four years old, clutching her father's hand, turn, just before she exited Westminster Hall, and wave farewell to Her late Majesty's coffin. I have a daughter of a similar age and this simple, entirely natural and innocent farewell, was deeply emotional to witness.
"I was decorated by Her Majesty in 2008. Towards the end of my final watch, something caused the light to glint on the medal she had personally hung on my chest fourteen years ago and shine up in to my bowed eyes. This cut through the mental rehearsals I was doing ahead of the imminent series of taps which signalled the actions to dismount the catafalque, and brought me wholly into the moment, prompting me to quietly articulate my own thanks and farewell to Her Majesty.
"Two weeks ago we experienced the two greatest changes in power possible in our country–political and monarchical – within 72 hours of each other. That this happened so seamlessly and peacefully is indicative of how safe and stable the country we are fortunate to call our home is. There are many places in the world where power transition is the cause for great fear and uncertainty.
The ceremonial components that have unfolded over the 11 days since Her Majesty's death contribute to the sense of stability and continuity, providing a familiar process guiding the transition of monarchical power. Being part of this reinforced to me how important these ceremonies are. They are not just pomp: they are fundamental parts of our constitutional, democratic monarchy and we are fortunate to have His Majesty the King to succeed his mother as our Sovereign and continue this great act of service."