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First Muslim Battalion Guards the Queen
At Buckingham Palace today, Friday 2 May 2008, red jackets and black bearskins were replaced by pristine white tunics, brocade 'sampins' and gold-banded 'songkoks', when the Malay Regiment changed guards with 1st Battalion Welsh Guards.
The Regiment is visiting the UK to strengthen ties between Malaysia and the UK. Malaysia is only the fourth Commonwealth nation, after Canada, Australia and Jamaica, to be honoured in performing Public Duties in England.
Major Mohd Fuad bin Md Ghazali led his Company as the Malaysian Army's first Captain of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. He said:
"It is a great honour to be here guarding Her Majesty, who is the Head of the Commonwealth, and it is an expression of the close ties between our two countries."
The Royal Malay Regiment (RMR), or Rejimen Askar Melayu DiRaja, is the most senior in the Malaysian Army. The 1st Battalion (1 RMR) is the ceremonial battalion to their King and only draws recruits from the ethnic Malay population. Because the State religion of Malaysia is Islam, the elite soldiers of the 1st Battalion must all be practicing Muslims.
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