His Majesty The King will serve as the ceremonial head of the Royal Marines, taking on the role of Captain General. The announcement comes on the 358th anniversary of the founding of the Corps of Royal Marines, which were formed on 28th October 1664 during the reign of King Charles II.
Widely acknowledged as one of the world’s elite fighting forces, the Royal Marine Commandos are the amphibious troops of the Royal Navy. They are deployed across the globe as specialists in combat in extreme climates, serving on the most dangerous operations under the most challenging conditions.
The appointment of the ceremonial head of the Royal Marines has historically been held by the Monarch, including The King’s grandfather and great-grandfather.
In a personal message to the Royal Marines as they mark their 358th birthday today, The King said:
It is the greatest possible pleasure to assume the role of your Captain General. I am exceptionally proud to follow in the footsteps of so many members of my family over the last three and a half centuries, all of whom held the role with a deep sense of admiration.
The Royal Marines have a distinguished and unparalleled history, both on land and at sea. I draw immense inspiration from your courage, determination, self-discipline and a remarkable capacity to endure in the most extreme environments.
I feel greatly honoured to become part of the Corps Family and very much look forward to meeting many of you in the near future. In the meantime, this comes with my heartfelt and special wishes for a very happy 358th birthday.
Per Mare, Per Terram.
As Prince of Wales, The King embarked on a career in the Royal Navy, undergoing training at the Commando Training Centre Royal Marines (CTCRM) in Lympstone, Devon, in order to qualify as a helicopter pilot. His Majesty later served alongside Royal Marines on board HMS Hermes, as part of 845 Naval Air Squadron, completing military exercises in the Western Atlantic and the West Indies. The King holds the honorary rank of Admiral of the Fleet in the Royal Navy.
The King and the Royal Navy
The King embarked on a Naval career in 1972, following in the footsteps of His Majesty’s father, grandfather and both his great-grandfathers. Following the six-week course at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, The King served on the guided missile destroyer HMS Norfolk and two frigates.
While qualifying as a helicopter pilot in 1974, The King undertook commando training with the Royal Marines at Lympstone in Devon. His Majesty then joined 845 Naval Air Squadron, serving alongside a detachment of Royal Marines on board HMS Hermes. On 9th February 1976, The Prince took command of the coastal minehunter HMS Bronington for his last nine months in the Royal Navy.
The Royal Marines
On 28th October, 1664, an Order-in-Council was issued calling for 1,200 soldiers to be recruited for service in the Fleet, to be known as The Duke of York and Albany's Maritime Regiment of Foot. As The Duke of York was The Lord High Admiral, it became known as the Admiral's Regiment. The Regiment was eventually titled as the Royal Marines in 1802 by King George III. Since their founding, the Royal Marines have taken part in more battles on land and sea around the world than any other branch of the UK Armed Forces.
The Royal Marines are currently operating in the Mediterranean, forging closer bonds with NATO allies and partners. Commandos are also deployed with HMS Montrose in the Middle East to disrupt the global drugs trade, and will soon be operating in Oman. Royal Marines will also be undertaking their traditional mountain training in Scotland as they prepare to spend the winter in the Arctic Circle in Northern Norway. The Commandos deploy to the Arctic every year.
The role of the ceremonial head of the Royal Marines has historically been held by the Monarch, including The King’s grandfather and great-grandfather, with King George V first assuming the appointment in 1901.
The motto of the Royal Marines, ‘Per Mare, Per Terram’, means ‘By Sea, By Land’ in Latin, reflecting their amphibious expertise.