Richard Stokes: The First Black Person To Brace Against All Odds To Become Britain’s First Royal Guard In 1986

Bristolian Richard Stokes


After his adoptive father persuaded him, Bristolian Richard Stokes became the first Black to join the late Queen Elizabeth’s royal guard as a member of the Grenadier Guards in 1986. Stokes was adopted by a white family when he was nine months old and has always admired the army cadet.

When he was old enough, he hoped to join the military, specifically the Foot Guards. However, according to the BBC, he would not be admitted because he was not Irish, Scots, or Welsh, with the color of his skin acting as a further barrier to pursuing a chance to live his dream.

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With tenacity and perseverance, he chose the Coldstream Guards but was transferred to the Grenadiers after a few weeks into his training for no apparent reason. He claimed to have suffered horrendous maltreatment while serving in the Grenadier Guards.

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He noted that his first and second years as a guard were the most difficult. “…In fact, my first six months to a year of training was perhaps the worst experience of my life,” he admitted to the BBC. He claimed that when the minibus carrying new recruits stopped at the Pirbright Camp in Surrey, 200 soldiers shouted racial slurs at him.

Stokes said he was terrified to go across the camp at times because his army comrades were shouting racial obscenities out the windows. They were faceless, according to him, yet the noises they created echoed in his ears even when he was sleeping.

He claimed to have spent four years in the army, guarding royal residences like as Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle, and Clarence House. He went on to say that he took part in ceremonial duties ranging from Trooping the Colour and Changing of the Guard to tours of service in Northern Ireland, Kenya, and Canada.

Stokes later went on to work in the Navy before transitioning to the fire and rescue service, where he is now a diversity and inclusion manager for Avon Fire and Rescue Service. He is currently in his early 50s and writes about his experiences. According to him, one of the ways he coped with the pain and trauma he experienced was to write a book.

Trooping the Culture, which is now available on Amazon, explains his experiences, flashes of history, and the tenacity he demonstrated during those difficult times in his life. He characterized the process of recounting all that happened and putting it down as difficult.

He stated that being the first Black person to join the elite regiment that guarded the late Queen is an experience worth sharing. He also hopes to inspire others on how to deal with racism in positions of power.


Written by How Africa News

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