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Kate to hand out shamrock to Irish Guards on St Patrick's Day

KATE Middleton's first solo military role will come on St Patrick's Day when she hands out shamrock to the Irish Guards.

Last June, she joined her husband Prince William in their first military engagement when she awarded operational medals to members of the same regiment who had just returned from Afghanistan.

Prince William holds the rank of colonel in the regiment and wore the striking red Irish Guards tunic on their wedding day. He is the Irish Guards' first royal colonel and its colonel-in-chief is the queen.

Kate will give shamrocks to 40 officers and NCOs (non-commissoned officers) at Mons Barracks in Aldershot on Saturday, who will then issue them to the Irish Guards.

During the event, 450 soldiers will march into the square at the barracks wearing their scarlet tunics and bearskin busbies. They will be followed by the band of the Irish Guards, along with Conmael, the Irish Wolfhound regimental mascot.

Conmael will also receive a sprig of shamrock from Kate.

The handing out of shamrock to the Irish Guards on March 17 was started more than a century ago when Queen Alexandria, the wife of King Edward the VII, distributed shamrock to the soldiers.

The regiment was formed on April 1, 1900 by order of Queen Victoria in response to the actions of Irish regiments in the Second Boer War.