Billy the Goat - Lance Corporal William Windsor - retires as Royal Welsh Regiment mascot with full military honors
From his gleaming headplate to his immaculately groomed whiskers, Lance Corporal William Windsor looked every inch the proud old soldier as he left camp for the last time yesterday. He has seen service overseas, met royalty and led every battalion parade, but after eight years on the job, it is time for William Windsor to retire. But unlike other old soldiers, this veteran will be spending his final days in a zoo - because he is the regimental goat, better known as Billy.
His send-off came with full military pomp and ceremony - befitting-his lifetime's service with the 1st Battalion the Royal Welsh. Cheering comrades lined the route from his pen to the trailer waiting to take him to the Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire, where the Army veteran informally known as Billy the Goat will spend his honorable retirement.
Captain Nick Zorab said: ‘The soldiers themselves love having him - it's a bit of a novelty in these days. He's very friendly and not aggressive at all. He likes being out and about and meeting people. We have never had any complaints. When people hear that we have a goat among the battalion, they think we must be kidding. But having a goat among our ranks is a tradition we have had for over 200 years.’
The history of the regimental goat dates back to the American War of Independence when a wild goat wandered on to a battlefield and ended up leading the regimental Colours at the end of a battle. In 1844, Queen Victoria presented the first Royal goat, and since then most have been presented by the sovereign.
The regimental goat is considered a full member of the battalion. He marches in front of the Battalion on all ceremonial duties and is much loved by all ranks. He has a full time carer known as the Goat Major who ensures the welfare of the goat at all times. Billy’s replacement will be unveiled in June when a kid will be collected from a herd on the Great Orme, North Wales.
For the most part Billy has served as unbleatingly as a goat can - although he did once butt heads with top brass when he was temporarily demoted for not marching in time. He spent two-and-a-half years overseas in Cyprus when the battalion was posted over there and has lived in Chester since their return. During his time in Cyprus, he was disciplined and temporarily demoted from his rank of Lance Corporal to Fusilier for not marching in time during a parade for the Queen's birthday.
Photos courtesy of Dave Thompson / AP, PA, Reuters
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