'Nemo me impune lacessit'
(None shall provoke me with impunity)

Lord Orkney's Regiment of Foote  

Lord Orkney

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Regimental History

From the earliest regulations The Royal Scots have been entitled to bear on their Colours the Royal Cipher within the Collar of the Order of the Thistle with the badge appendant, and this is the Regimental Badge still in use today.

The 1st Royals [Scots], the oldest Infantry Regiment of the Line in the British Army, was formed in 1633 when Sir John Hepburn under a Royal Warrant granted by King Charles I, raised a body of men in Scotland for service in France. By 1635 he commanded a force of over 8,000, including many who had fought as mercenaries in the "Green Brigade" for King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden. It was by virtue of the Royal Warrant that the entire Regiment was considered as British; a regular force in a standing Army which could be recalled to Britain at will. 

Under the command of Sir John Hepburn the Regiment moved to France to fight in the service of Louis XIII during the Thirty Years War, thus continuing a tradition of Scottish involvement in French military affairs that dated back to the early 15th century. Contemporary reports from the 1630's mention an accompanying  pipe band of some 36 musicians (just one of whom survived the war unwounded!) and refer too to the 'The Scottish March', believed to be the march now known as 'Dumbarton's Drums'. In 1636 the French gave the regiment its famous nickname of "Pontius Pilate's Bodyguard" in contempt for its 'mercenary' status in France. 

In 1661 the Regiment was summoned to Britain to bridge the gap between the disbandment of the New Model Army and the creation of a Regular Army, organised along the same lines as the British units in foreign service. The Regiment was thus the original model for all others. Having officially become part of the Scottish establishment after the Restoration of Charles II, the regiment finally based itself in Britain permanently in 1678. On  return in 1684 to British soil the regiment, then known as Dumbarton's Foot, had the title of  The Royal Regiment of Foot  conferred onto them.

The regiment gained its first battle honour in 1680 at Tangiers. During Monmouth's rebellion in 1685, five companies formed part of the force concentrated against the rebels who they met at Sedgemoor. The following year, the Regiment was divided into two battalions, just in time to be heavily engaged at the battles of Steinkirk, Laden and the siege of Namur during King William's War of 1689-1697. The regiment became Lord Orkney's Foot in 1692 after the death of Lord Dumbarton and and remained so till 1737, when Lord Orkney himself died. During his command Orkneys regiment gained many battle honours, most of them during the Wars of the Spanish Succession.

During the Jacobite uprising in the 1740's the regiment, now known as St. Clair's (but still wearing the same uniform of red lined white), distinguished itself once more, culminating at Culloden in 1745. This would be an important part of Scottish history, for the majority of the Jacobites would ironically fight Scottish Government forces - in other words, they would fight their own countrymen. Only 20% of the Government forces in Scotland were actually English during this period. At Culloden, the old pre-union Orkney's flag made a re-appearance. A former serving officer of Orkney's changed sides and formed his own Jacobite regiment, Ogilvy's, and chose the old flag to make a statement about the Act of Union. No-doubt the old hands from the former Orkney's regiment may have found former friends hard to fight.

In 1751, the old tradition of naming the regiments after their Colonels finally ended, and the regiment was officially re-named the 1st (Royal) Regiment of Foot. St. Clair continued to be the regiment's Colonel till 1762.

During the reign of George III the regiment once more saw major service in battle, with one battalion sent to America to help the British deal with the uprising led by ex-pat British Colonials - The War of Independence.

After the Coldstream Guards, Orkney's were the most senior infantry regiment of the English, later British army. The Royal Scots is the oldest surviving regiment in the British Army with links going back to the 14th century.

Today The Royal Scots serve in the Gulf and continue to represent Scotland and Great Britain with pride. Our thoughts are with them and their families in this difficult time.


A Summary of Regimental Commanders and Names:

1625  John Hepburn's Regiment
  Entered Danish service
1630  E1626), Stargate's Corps, and Lumsden's Musketeers, the Green or Scots Brigade
1633  Remnants of Green Brigade merged into Hepburn's Regiment
1633  Royal Regiment of Foot placed on Scottish establishment for King Charles I Scottish Coronation
1635  Régiment de Hebron [Hepburn] entered French service
1637  Régiment de Douglas
1655  Régiment de Dumbarton
  returned to French service
1667  returned to English service for Dutch war
1667  returned to French service
1678  returned to English Establishment
1684  His Majesty's Royal Regiment of Foot  Also known until 1751 by the names of colonels
1692  Gen. Hon. George Hamilton, Earl of Orkney
1737  [6.27] Gen. Hon. James St. Clair (Lord Sinclair)
1751  [07.01]  1st (Royal) Regiment of Foot
  [12.17]   Lt-Gen. Sir Henry Erskine, Bt
1765  [09.11]  F.M. John Campbell, 5th Duke of Argyll (Marquess of Lorne)
1782  [05.09]   Gen. Lord Adam Gordon
1801  [08.21]   F.M. HRH Edward Augustus, Duke of Kent, KG, GCB
1812  1st Regiment of Foot (Royal Scots)
1820  [01.29]  Gen. George Gordon, 5th Duke of Gordon, GCB (Marquess of Huntly)
1821  1st, or The Royal Regiment of Foot
1834  [12.12]   Gen. Thomas Graham, 1st Lord Lynedoch, GCB, GCMG
1871  1st, or The Royal Scots Regiment
  [07.01]   The Royal Scots (Lothian Regiment)
1921 - Today [01.01]  The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment)

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