First turbaned Sikh at Buckingham Palace

A Sikh of Indian-origin has become the first person to guard the Buckingham Palace in his turban after he was granted special permission to do so.

The Daily Mail reported that Jatinderpal Singh Bhullar (25), who joined the Scots Guards last year, became the first guard not to wear mandatory bearskin on ceremonial duties, breaking hundreds of years of tradition.

The regiment traces its origin to 1642 and its soldiers have worn bearskins on parade since 1832.

Bhullar is based at Wellington Barracks in Birdcage Walk, used by soldiers from the Scots Guards’ F Company responsible for public duties and guarding the Queen.

He is one of only 20 to 25 British-born Sikhs in the British Army.

As a devout Sikh, it is mandatory for Bhullar (from Birmingham) to wear a turban, which is intended to protect his hair, which he never cuts, and to keep them clean.

For centuries, Sikhs have worn turbans in battle and fought as part of the British Army (including Bhullar’s grandfather, who served in World War II).

The step, however, has irked some serving non-commissioned officers based at Wellington Barracks, who are furious that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) compromised centuries of history for one soldier.

Traditionalists in the Scots Guards say that the allowances made for Bhullar will make the whole company look ridiculous to tourists and onlookers.

A Defence Ministry spokeswoman said, “The Army takes great pride in its diversity. Discussions are underway between this unit, the Sikh community and the Ministry. The individual will have the full support of the Army and his colleagues.”

India Abroad News Service

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