A British-born Sikh soldier, who will become the first to stand guard outside the Buckingham Palace wearing a turban, than the traditional bearskin, is reported to have suffered abuse from his colleagues who objected to his “breaking hundreds of years of tradition.”
The Scots guardsmen in their red tunic and oval-shaped bearskin headgear are a big tourist attraction, with visitors often insisting on being photographed with them.
Jatinderpal Singh Bhullar (25), who joined the Scots guards this year, will appear in public for the first time next week as he joins the guardsmen’s parade outside the palace.
Army’s Sikh chaplain Mandeep Kaur told The Mail on Sunday that he had “endured taunts about his turban and his refusal to cut his hair and his beard.”
“He had problems telling [his colleagues] why he has to wear the turban and why it means so much to him. It was ignorance and verbals but he did not call it bullying. He was determined to come through everything to explain his religion, the significance of the turban and why it is more important to him than a bearskin,’’ she said.
The right-wing tabloid reported “traditionalists” in the Scots Guard as saying that the decision to allow Mr. Bhullar to discard bearskin would “make the whole company look ridiculous to tourists and onlookers.”
The regiment traces its origins back to 1642 and its soldiers have worn bearskins on parade since 1832.
The paper said it was “initially approached by serving non-commissioned officers based at Wellington Barracks, who were angry that the MoD [Ministry of Defence] had compromised centuries of history for the sake of one soldier.”
“The argument presented by Mr. Bhullar's colleagues was backed by senior members of the Scots Guards' regimental association,” it said.
The MoD said the Army “takes great pride in its diversity.”
“Discussions are underway between this unit, the Sikh community and the MoD. The individual will have the full support of the Army and his colleagues,’’ it said.