Prince William broke this 121-year long royal tradition on St Patrick's Day

Prince William
(Image credit: Getty)

Prince William broke 121 years of royal history on St Patrick's Day when he attended a parade alone to hand out traditional gifts - a role usually completed by female royals.

  • Prince William made history back in 2016 during a celebration of St Patrick's Day when he was forced to attend a parade of the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards on his own.
  • The Duke of Cambridge had to hand out traditional gifts instead of his wife Kate who was feeling unwell at home - a role traditionally carried out by female royals.
  • This royal news comes after Prince William spotted on dad duty taking Princess Charlotte to pizza party.

Prince William changed a 121-year royal history when he handed out traditional gifts during a parade of the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are set to return to the parade for the first time in two years but while the royal tradition is set to resume today, it's revealed Prince William once broke the protocol during the 2016 St Patrick's Day celebration.

Traditionally a female member of the Royal Family presents the traditional gift of sprigs of shamrock to officers and guardsmen who will distribute them across the ranks but when Prince William's wife Kate Middleton pulled out of the 2016 parade by choosing to stay at home in Norfolk with her children Prince George and Princess Charlotte, it forced the Duke to break the 121-year tradition.

Prince William attended the parade alone and took on the role of presenting the traditional sprigs to 450 members of the Battalion Irish Guards at Hounslow Cavalry Barracks in west London.

Queen Alexandra started the royal tradition back in 1901 and for many years the Queen Mother performed the duty, followed by Princess Anne.

Prince William

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 17: Prince William, Duke Of Cambridge visits The 1st Battalion Irish Guards for the St. Patrick's Day parade on March 17, 2016 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Luca Teuchmann/WireImage)

At the time, the soldiers on parade were disappointed that the Duchess did not make an appearance but Company Sergeant Major Carl Laverty said they were "conscious that she has family commitments", adding that the "lads were ecstatic" to have their Colonel present the honours instead. Prince William presented the regiment's mascot, an Irish wolfhound by the name of Domhnall, with its own spring of shamrock.

Prince William

And this time round traditions for 2022 will resume. A statement from Kensington Palace read: “The Duke of Cambridge, Colonel of the Irish Guards, accompanied by the Duchess of Cambridge, will visit the 1st Battalion Irish Guards at the St Patrick's Day Parade, Mons Barracks in Aldershot on Thursday March 17. This will be the first time the Duke and Duchess have attended the parade since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Last year’s celebration was called off because of the pandemic and the year before, the parade was cancelled due to most of the regiment being deployed overseas.

Today, Kate will resume her responsibility of presenting the Irish wolfhound with the shamrock. The parade concludes with a march-past, where the Duke, who has been the Colonel of the Irish Guards since May 2011, will take the salute.

Prince Charles marked St Patrick's Day earlier this week when both he and his wife Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall enjoyed some Irish Folk music during a visit the Irish Cultural Centre in London – which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

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If you're celebrating St Patrick's Day then check out these tasty Irish recipes and give them a go when planning what to cook for family and friends.

Selina Maycock
Senior Family Writer

Selina is a Senior Family Writer for GoodtoKnow and has more than 16 years years of experience. She specialises in royal family news, including the latest activities of Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet. She also covers the latest government, health and charity advice for families. Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism, and gained her NCTJ and NCE qualifications. During her career, she’s also written for Woman, Woman's Own, Woman&Home, and Woman's Weekly as well as Heat magazine, Bang Showbiz - and the Scunthorpe Telegraph. When she's not covering family news, you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories (including award-winning scarecrows!)