A touching salute to Kate Middleton: Irish Guards give three cheers for the Princess of Wales during St Patrick’s Day Parade while she continues her recovery at home – but the absent royal wishes ‘slainté’ to people celebrating

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Written By Maya Cantina

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The Irish Guards paid tribute to their absent colonel, the Princess of Wales, during their annual St Patrick’s Day Parade this afternoon. 

As the traditional parade went ahead as normal today, Kate, 42, replaced in the ceremony in Aldershot by Lady Ghika, the wife of Lieutenant colonel Major General Sir Christopher Ghika.

Dressed in a plum coat dress, Lady Ghika presented the Irish Guards’ mascot, Seamus the dog, with a shamrock, as is tradition at the parade.

Just a year ago, the Princess of Wales stood in her place and performed the same tradition, dressed in a turquoise coat and with a shamrock on her lapel. The 2023 St Patrick’s Day celebration was Kate’s first as honorary Lieutenant Colonel, after taking over from Prince William in the role.

As mother-of-three Kate recovers at home following her abdominal operation earlier this year, the Irish Guards paid tribute to their colonel in her absence at the end of the parade. 

Lady Ghika, the wife of Major General Sir Christopher Ghika, stood in for the Princess of Wales at this year’s Irish Guards St Patrick’s Day parade

A clip of the Irish Guards posted on X/Twitter by the British Army showed the troops raising their hats as they gave three cheers in honour of the Princess. 

And on Kate’s side, tribute was paid to the Irish Guards as the Prince and Princess of Wales took to their social media accounts with a clip of the regiment rehearsing for the St Patrick’s Day parade. 

The video was captioned: ‘Happy St Patrick’s Day! Here’s a sneak peak of the Irish Guards rehearsing for their annual parade. Sláinte to all those celebrating today!’

Last year, Seamus the mascot received his shamrock from Kate, who was carrying out her first parade as colonel

Last year, Seamus the mascot received his shamrock from Kate, who was carrying out her first parade as colonel

During last year’s celebration, the Princess made a speech in which she expressed her pride at assuming the title.

She said: ‘I really couldn’t be prouder to stand in front of you here today. It really is a true honour to be your Colonel. I am here to listen to you, to support you, and to champion you in all you do – this is a responsibility I do not take lightly.’ 

Meanwhile William said that being Colonel of the Irish Guards has been one of the ‘great honours of my life’.

The parade went ahead as normal as the members of the regiment took part in the festivities

The parade went ahead as normal as the members of the regiment took part in the festivities

As Lady Ghika stepped in for Kate, she took responsibility for handing out shamrocks

As Lady Ghika stepped in for Kate, she took responsibility for handing out shamrocks

Ahead of attending the ceremony, Kate had joined the same regiment for a day of army drills in snowy conditions with them – and joked that the event had been ‘so cold’. 

She said of the visit: ‘All I saw was enthusiasm, pride, and incredible dedication.

‘I was hugely impressed with your insistence that nothing is as bad as it seems, and – most of all – your boundless, irreverent, glorious sense of humour. That’s what makes you who you are and what makes the Irish Guards unique.’

She also thanked her husband ‘Colonel William’, concluding: ‘Before I close, however, I want to thank Colonel William. He has always talked about his fierce pride for this Regiment. I know he will continue to support us all in the work we do.’

Later in the afternoon, the Princess joined members of the regiment and their families for a half pint of Guinness – although it appeared the stout may not be her favourite drink as she didn’t drink too much of ‘the black stuff’.

The celebrations in Kate’s absence come as the Prince and Princess of Wales are said to be ‘devastated’ by speculation about their marriage on social media as wild theories sweep the internet as she continues her recovery.

Princess Kate has not made an official public appearance since she underwent major abdominal surgery on January 16, leading to a growing tsunami of speculation over her unknown health condition.

Speculation only intensified when she publicly took the blame for the family photograph released by Kensington Palace on Mother’s Day, which was ‘killed’ by six of the world’s top picture agencies over concern that it had been ‘manipulated’.

As well as a number of imperfections in the photoshopped image, viewers also spotted that Kate appeared to not be wearing her wedding ring, which sparked multiple unfounded theories online about the state of her marriage.

Kensington Palace released the picture of the Princess of Wales since surgery

Kensington Palace released the picture of the Princess of Wales since surgery

Kate posted the apology on the Prince and Princess of Wales' Instagram account

Kate posted the apology on the Prince and Princess of Wales’ Instagram account 

Despite this tumultuous few weeks for the Royal Family, it is expected that they will still uphold the tradition of releasing a new photograph to mark their children’s birthdays, the next being Prince Louis on April 23.

They may use it as an opportunity to speak about her health, it has been reported.

‘They are at their most open when out interacting with members of the public and I can see a world in which the princess might discuss her recovery out on engagements,’ a source told the Sunday Times.

‘If she was going to do it, that’s how she would do it.’

‘They appreciate the public’s love and affection for their children and know there is a public appetite to see them on their birthdays,’ an aide added.

Although it is understood that no ‘firm decision’ has been taken, the couple has been shaken after the online hysteria around Kate’s health.

The Sunday Times quoted a friend as saying: ‘They will want to be clear and more open, but they’ll do it when they feel ready. I would expect that to be her instinct and it will be her call. They’re not going to be rushed.’

A source close to Kate claimed all she intended to do was ‘bring a bit of joy’ and release a reassuring image to thank the public for their ongoing support.

The Princess is not expected to return to frontline duties until after April 17, when her three children go back to Lambrook School, near Ascot after the Easter holidays.

Another friend insisted that it was just someone trying to project the polished image that the public has come to expect: ‘It’s a photo that she knew everyone would pore over so she pored over it herself — she likes trying to make the family look the best they can.’

Earlier this week, Kate made the unexpected decision to publicly take responsibility of the mishap and issue a personal apology on Instagram: ‘Like many amateur photographers, I do occasionally experiment with editing,’ she wrote.

A friend and adviser to the couple said that Kate’s only mistake was not telling her team that she had edited the photos.

‘But she came out and said sorry. The photo was a misstep, even with something as innocent as that you should disclose altering it.’

Prince WilliamKate Middleton

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