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'Lady P' bids her regiment goodbye

Edward Campbell

Army.ca Myth
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This is reproduced under the Fair Dealings provisions (§29) of the Copyright Act from today’s Ottawa Citizen:

'Lady P' bids her regiment goodbye
At 83, 'I am no longer able to get into a tank,' says Colonel-In-Chief

Bruce Ward, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2007

The beloved "Lady P" said goodbye to her Ottawa-area troops yesterday in a brief, historic ceremony marked by mutual affection and touching down-to-earth moments.

Lady Patricia Brabourne, the Countess Mountbatten of Burma and Colonel-in-Chief of the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, was welcomed to Ottawa by a quarter guard of non-commissioned PPCLI officers assembled at the Cartier Square Drill Hall.

"This is a sad moment for me," she told them, explaining that at 83 she cannot carry out her

"I am no longer able to get into a tank, or sleep in tents on exercises," she said.

It is her last official visit to Ottawa. Lady Patricia is turning over her command to former governor general Adrienne Clarkson, the first Canadian to be selected Colonel-In-Chief of the regiment.

She pronounced Madame Clarkson to be "perfectly splendid."

Lady Patricia said her association with the regiment provided her with some of the most wonderful times of her life.

"I have a confession to make," she said. "I still haven't been to Quebec. You'll have to arrange that," she said jokingly to the quarter guard.

She has been nearly everywhere else in Canada since becoming Colonel-In-Chief of the PPCLI in 1974.

Over the years, she has visited the regiment on 45 occasions, travelling to Canadian Forces bases and detachments from Gagetown, N.B., to Yellowknife, N.W.T.

She also travelled to the high Arctic to see soldiers training in Resolute Bay, as well as visiting PPCLI battalions serving on overseas operations in Cyprus, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Kosovo.

Lady Patricia chatted informally with several soldiers after the ceremony.

"All the boys appreciate what you have done for us," Master Cpl. Andrew McConnell told her.

In an interview, he praised her as an inspiration to the regiment.

"Lady P, she's terrific," he said. "She instills a feeling of pride and esprit de corps that's important to us as a fighting unit. She has visited us all over the world."

The PPCLI has historic ties to the city. The regiment was formed in Ottawa at the beginning of the First World War, and many members of the regiment live and work here.

Bill Love, a retired major who served with the regiment for 28 years, said Lady Patricia was "one amazing woman."

He described her as a "bulwark of strength" who worked hard to "make a bond with the troops.

"When I first met her, I asked if I could call her Lady P. 'Of course,' she said."

She brought "an open heart" to the regiment, he added, and is also known for her steely resolve in support of the PPCLI.

Despite the rain and her difficulties in walking, Lady Patricia also paid her respects to fallen members of the regiment at rest in the National Military Cemetery of the Canadian Forces at Beechwood Cemetery.

Lady Patricia is widely admired by the troops for maintaining personal contact with her regiment. Last June, in formally requesting to step aside as Colonel-In-Chief, Lady Patricia said that her age made travel increasingly difficult, preventing her from staying closely in touch as she preferred.

Lady Patricia's life has been touched by tragedy.

In 1979, her father Earl Mountbatten of Burma was assassinated by the IRA when a bomb ripped apart his yacht at Mullaghmore Bay in Ireland. Lady Patricia and her husband, Lord Brabourne, a movie producer whose films included Murder on the Orient Express and A Passage to India, were seriously injured in the explosion. Their 15-year-old son Nicholas, an identical twin, was killed with his grandfather.

After the assassination of her father, Lady Patricia, as heir to his Earldom, became the Countess Mountbatten of Burma. She is a link to the final glorious days of the British Empire.

Her father became the last Viceroy of India in 1947. It was his job to oversee the transfer of power, ending the Raj.

Lady Patricia played a vital role in the selection of her replacement. She believed it was time for a Canadian to be appointed, and said so in discussions with the Queen. Last month, Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor named Madame Clarkson as Lady Patricia's replacement. The Queen then approved the appointment.

The infantry is named after its first colonel-in-chief and Countess Mountbatten's first cousin and godmother, Princess Patricia, youngest daughter of Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. Prince Arthur was the third son of Queen Victoria, and served as Canada's governor general from 1911 to 1916.

The change of appointment ceremony will take place on Saturday at the Patricias' home station in Edmonton. Lady Patricia will join local members of her regiment today for a luncheon at the NDHQ Warrant Officers' and Sergeant's Mess. She flies to Edmonton tomorrow.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2007

She has served Her Regiment and Canada well.

What a wonderfully inspiring Lady.  Typical British Ladyshipness, stalwart and upstanding.
My regards to the Regiment.
A class act.  Sad to see her go, but her replacement is a wonderful choice.

Looking forward to serving with the Patricias again,

Ottawa was a little brighter for having her here. Edmonton will positively glow tomorrow. 

My respects Your Ladyship. 
niner domestic said:
Edmonton will positively glow tomorrow. 

Everything is set, and she indeed arrives tomorrow.  The parade itself is on Saturday.
I only met her once - after 3 VP's return from Afghanistan in '02.  I was IMPRESSED - and that's not an easy thing to do.

The best to you, Lady P - you are a fine individual, and I regret that I don't know you more.

Any chance this thread could be merged with "Lady Patricia" in the Military History thread?

good ceremony, but I was disappointed I could not hear Lady P's speech.
no one botherd to turn up her mike or pull it down so the person I wanted to hear I could not.
oh well still worth the cramps in my arms for standing their for 2 hrs. ( I think?)