18 MARCH 2009

With a giant bunch of shamrocks in her button hole and a three-leaf clover broach adorning her bottle green jacket, Princess Anne celebrated St Patrick's Day on Tuesday with the Irish Guards at Windsor's Victoria Barracks.

As she does every year, the Queen's daughter – who holds the rank of colonel in Prince Harry's Blues And Royals regiment - presented sprigs of shamrocks to the servicemen. The soldiers attached these to their caps before taking part in the annual St Patrick's parade in front of their royal guest. It's a significant day for the men, as not only is March 17 the day of Ireland's patron saint; it's also the date for their official regimental celebration.

The Irish Guards, which is almost exclusively made up of men from the republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, was formed in 1901 by Queen Victoria after the formidable efforts of native Irishmen during the Boer War in South Africa.

They wear a blue plume, rather than Irish green, in their bearskins and caps as it's the colour of the mantle and sash of the Knights of St Patrick, Ireland's order of chivalry. It's from this order they also take their motto: 'We will never be separated'.

Photo: Rex
After distributing bunches of shamrocks to the servicemen in time-honoured fashion, the Princess Royal was presented with a bunch of her own
Photo: Rex
She then joined servicemen to watch the regiment, which was formed in 1901 by Queen Victoria, take part in its annual St Patrick's Day parade
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