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Canadian soldier becomes the first female infantry officer to command the Queen's guard

Sarah Walker

There's been a historic changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace! For the first time ever, a female infantry officer has led troops in the daily security shuffle which is watched by thousands of tourists every day.

The Associated Press reports Canadian Capt. Megan Couto led her unit – the Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry or "The Patricia's" – in Monday's ceremony. During the event, she and her troops were serenaded by the 35-piece Royal Canadian Artillery Band.

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Capt. Megan Couto leads her unit outside Buckingham Palace

The troops were asked to serve as the Queen's guard, The Guardian notes, in honour of Canada's 150th birthday on 1 July.

Ahead of the march, Megan told reporters she was excited about her history making role. "I'm just focusing on doing my job as best I can and staying humble," said the 24-year-old. "Any of my peers would be absolutely delighted to be captain of the Queen's guard and I'm equally honoured."

She went on to tell the CBC that she understood the significance of her historic appearance. "It is a big deal because of the tradition and the importance of the ceremony."

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The 24-year-old officer made history on Monday

British Army officials also applauded the Canadian soldier. "While Captain Megan Couto of Second Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry is the first female infantry officer to undertake the role [as commander], it has been performed by female officers before," they 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."

After the ceremony Megan took a prestigious position near St James's Palace. Until 3 July, she and her colleagues will work to protect several historic properties in the U.K., including Buckingham Palace, St James’s Palace, the Tower of London, and Windsor Castle.