Kate Middleton broke a 121-year-long royal tradition on St Patrick’s Day

Kate Middleton broke a royal tradition spanning over 121 years in 2016, when she decided not to attend the St Patrick’s parade at the Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow

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Kate Middleton and Prince William watch St Patrick’s Day parade

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge returned to Cavalry Barracks in Hounslow to celebrate St Patrick’s day by attending the annual parade, with the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards today.

It marks the first time Prince William and Kate have been able to attend the event in two years, with the celebrating called off in 2021 due to the pandemic and the parade canceled in 2020 due to most of the regiment being deployed overseas.

This year, the couple picked back up their annual tradition of presenting the gift of sprigs of shamrock to officers and guardsmen who then distribute them across the rank.

This is a 121-year tradition, usually carried out by a female member of the royal family, which began in 1901 with Queen Alexander, and for many years the Queen Mother performed the duty, followed by Princess Anne.

The sprigs of shamrock are traditionally handed out by female members of the royal family


Tim Rooke / REX / Shutterstock)

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But, despite this being an incredibly long-running tradition for many years, the the Duchess of Cambridge broke royal tradition in 2016 when she opted to stay home instead of attending the parade.

Kate had performed the duty four years a in a row previously, before opting to stay at home with her children, Prince George and Prince Charlotte, leaving William to hand out the sprigs to 450 members of the 1st Battalion Irish Guards at Hounslow Cavalry Barracks in west London.

Although people were notably disappointed about Kate’s absence, 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 honors instead.

William and Kate returned to St Patrick’s Day celebrations for the first time in two years



At the time, aides were quick to highlight that it was primarily William’s role as Colonel of the regiment to take part in the ceremony.

Male members of the Royal Family have performed the duties on rare occasions. George VI, Earl Alexander of Tunis, the Grand Duke of Luxembourg, the Earl of Cavan and Prince Edward have all taken part in the ceremony.

This year, Kate took on the responsibility of presenting the regiment’s mascot, an Irish wolfhound called Domhnall, with his very own shamrock.

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