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State Presidents Guard

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

State President‘s Guard
Staats President's Wag
SADF State Presidents Guard emblem.jpg
State Presidents Guard emblem
Country South Africa
AllegiancePresident of South Africa
Branch South African Army
TypeHonour Guards
RoleCeremonial Duties
General Constand Viljoen and PW Botha inspects the guard of honour
General Constand Viljoen and PW Botha inspects the guard of honour

The State President's Guard [1] was a home guard for the South African State President and also acted as a guard of honour at ceremonial occasions.

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Up to, and including State President Charles Robberts Swart's term of office, no permanent Guard existed. On his retirement from office on 31 May 1967, plans were made for the Guard to appear in public for the first time.

The Unit was established officially on 1 May 1967 and an effort was made to train the specially selected servicemen who would form this guard of honour. Special uniforms were manufactured. Due to the State President elect's illness, the Guard could only make its first public appearance eight months later at his State funeral.

President P. W. Botha changed the name of the unit to the "State President's Unit" in 1985, and later the ceremonial uniform was changed to the regular service uniform used by the rest of the defense forces.[2]


President F. W. de Klerk disbanded the unit in 1990. President Mandela in the late 1990s, replaced the unit with the National Ceremonial Guard in the SANDF.



The most important ceremonial function of the State President's Guard was that of guard of honour. Appearances of the Guard in this capacity included the following:

  • the inauguration of State Presidents;
  • visits from foreign heads of State, as well as other eminent foreign visitors;
  • performances at the state funerals of State Presidents and at certain other military funerals.

Regular performances also took place at occasions when foreign ambassadors presented their credentials to the State President. Other appearances were when national states officially gain independence. In addition, the Guard also performed at the official arrival and departure of the State President from various cities, especially those cities in which his official residences were situated.

The Unit was also responsible for a weekly changing of the guard parade on Fridays at Tuynhuys in Cape Town while Parliament was in session. At the end of each month, a retreat ceremony was held by the Unit at a public venue. Similar parades were held at the Castle, the Parade in Cape Town and at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

SADF State President's Guard Commemorative Letter
SADF State President's Guard Commemorative Letter

Infantry Unit

Although the primary task of the State President's Guard was to act as home guard for the State President and as guard of honour on ceremonial occasions, they also did border duty. Consequently, the training of the Unit was quite diverse and intensive and the requirements for selection were very strict.


See also



  1. ^ Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, Vol 16, Nr 5, 1986.
  2. ^ "The unit was formed in 1967, at the request of outgoing state president Swart. It was called the State President's Guard, and it wore the ruritanian uniform and the plumed shako with the presidential emblem (the national coat of arms with the letters SP above).  President Botha changed the name to "State President's Unit" in 1985, and later the ceremonial uniform was changed to ordinary service dress, with a "polo helmet" as headdress. This was in preference to a new full dress uniform which had been designed: it consisted of a blue tunic with orange facings, white trousers, and a white helmet with plumes.  President De Klerk disbanded the unit in 1990. It was revived by president Mandela in the late 1990s, in its present form as the "National Ceremonial Guard"". 15 March 2018. line feed character in |title= at position 262 (help)
This page was last edited on 20 April 2019, at 15:56
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