Ceremonial duties are a key part of Army life for many soldiers in the Household Division. The responsibility for organising military ceremonies in London falls to the Garrison Sergeant Major of London District, a role that is always held by a guardsman.
The present incumbent, Garrison Sergeant Major Andrew Stokes, had the extraordinary task of overseeing ceremonies of a scale and significance not witnessed for 70 years. After a busy summer marking the Platinum Jubilee, the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 prompted the planning and delivery of a State Funeral and the Coronation of King Charles III.
Join us for a fascinating insight into the hard work that goes into preparing pageantry as Brigadier (Ret'd) Justin Maciejewski, Director of the National Army Museum, talks with Garrison Sergeant Major Stokes about the logistics behind such historic occasions.
Andrew 'Vern' Stokes joined the Army in 1988 at the age of 16. He went on to serve on operational tours across the globe, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He joined the team in Horse Guards in 2014, taking over from Garrison Sergeant Major Billy Mott the following year. In 2023, he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his key role in the military ceremonial aspects of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral and the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla.
Justin Maciejewski is the Director of the National Army Museum. After a 27-year career in the British Army, he joined McKinsey & Company as a management consultant. His last appointment in the Army was Director Combat, the professional head of the Royal Armoured Corps and the Infantry. Prior to that, he had extensive command and staff experience and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) after commanding 2nd Battalion The Rifles in Iraq.