Editor’s note: A previous version of this story stated Couto was the first female officer to command the Queen’s Guard. Couto is in fact the first female infantry officer to do so, not first woman to command the guard, according to British Ministry of Defence.
LONDON – A Canadian captain made history Monday by becoming the first female infantry officer to lead the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.
Megan Couto led her unit -the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry or “The Patricia’s” – in the ceremony, an event witnessed by thousands of tourists annually.
“I’m just focusing on doing my job as best I can and staying humble,” said Couto, 24. “Any of my peers would be absolutely delighted to be captain of the queen’s guard and I’m equally honoured.”
The unit was invited to Britain to mark the 150th anniversary of Canada’s confederation.
The role of Mounting The Queen’s Guard usually falls to the British Army’s Household Division, which is part of the male-dominated infantry division.
“While Captain Megan Couto of Second Battalion, Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry is the first female infantry officer to undertake the role, it has been performed by female officers before,” the army said in a statement. “We look forward to seeing a British Army female infantry captain of the queen’s guard when roles are opened up to women by the end of next year.”
Canadian women have been allowed to serve in the infantry since the 1980s.
The Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry is based in Manitoba, Canada. The unit is named after Princess Patricia of Connaught, a granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria.