United Kingdom

Queen's new equerry is a war hero who served in Afghanistan

The Queen's new equerry is a war hero who served in Afghanistan and helped prevent a school bombing in Helmand, it has been revealed. 

Major Tom White, 33, who will start his role this week, was hand-picked by the monarch, 94, after she held several interviews for the position. 

The appointment makes him the first commando to ever hold the position of equerry - essentially the monarch's right-hand man. 

Major White, who is understood to be married with children, joined the Royal Marines in 2007 and has extensive experience with the elite commando force, with one source previously describing him as one of the best Royal Marines officers they had ever met.

The Queen's new equerry is a war hero who served in Afghanistan and helped prevent a school bombing in Helmand, it has been revealed. Pictured: Her previous equerry, Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, placing a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior on behalf of the Queen (centre) during a ceremony in Westminster Abbey last month

He has previously served as the military assistant to Major General Matt Holmes, commandant general of the Royal Marines and has also completed a posting at Navy Command in Portsmouth. 

Today it emerged he helped avert tragedy in Helmand in 2009 as a member of 42 Commando, after the Taliban rigged up an explosive booby trap in a school. 

Wires for the device, which was set to be triggered by a pressure plate that would go off when the padlocked school room door was broken down, were spotted by the elite force in the nick of time, reports the Daily Telegraph.   

Then aged 22, Lieutenant White, who was 7 Troop's commander, said: 'It turns your stomach to think what could have happened if we hadn't found the bombs. These people knew they could have blown a lot of kids sky high – and they didn't care.

The Queen's equerry is an officer from one of the armed services, who takes on the role for three years and is the monarch's 'eyes and ears'

'I have quite a low opinion of someone who would bomb a school. They don't value young life at all.' 

The Queen's equerry is very much considered to be Her Majesty's 'eyes and ears'. 

In his new role, Major White will be expected to be at the monarch's side throughout all official engagements and some private ones including Christmas - this year expected to be marked at Windsor Castle, not Sandringham. 

Major White will be taking over from Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, 41, known as 'TA', and has spent the past few weeks shadowing him.

Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah was most recently seen placing a bouquet of flowers at the grave of the Unknown Warrior with the Queen at Westminster Abbey, with Major White observing in the background. 

Major White follows in the historical footsteps of Lieutenant Colonel Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah (pictured), who was the first black person to ever hold the position

The appointment was seen as 'deeply significant' within the Royal Marines who this year saw Prince Harry (right with wife Meghan Markle on one of their final UK engagements at the Mountbatten Festival of Music at the Royal Albert Hall in March) step down as captain general of their elite force

White follows in Twumasi-Ankrah's footsteps in making history, because TA was the first ever black equerry appointed to the royal household. 

The Queen held an audience with Twumasi-Ankrah on Friday during which she thanked him for his service and made him a member of the Royal Victorian Order. 

What is the role of the Queen's equerry? 

The Queen’s equerry is an officer from one of the armed services, who takes on the role for three years.

The role includes generally assisting Her Majesty in her public duties and being her 'eyes and ears'.

Previous equerries have had responsibilities such as being in charge of the Queen's treasured horses.

The Queen's equerry would also be expected to look after the carriages, coaches and Rolls-Royce vehicles used at state ceremonies including Trooping the Colour and the State Opening of Parliament.

A royal source told The Times that he was exceptionally popular in the royal household and will be missed. 

The decision by the Queen to appoint a Royal Marines officer as her equerry was hailed a 'proud moment' and 'deeply significant' last month by Royal Marines. 

Military sources claimed the selection of Major White is a symbolic show of support for the Royal Marines after the 'huge disappointment' of Prince Harry giving up his captain general of the marines post in March, The Sunday Times reported.

Prince Philip, 99, had previously handed the role over to Harry in 2017 after 64 years, but now he is believed to support the Queen's decision. 

A marines source told publication: 'Tom's a superstar, and this is a deeply significant appointment by Her Majesty.

'We were delighted when Harry was appointed captain general. Him walking away was a huge disappointment. The Royal Marines have felt they’ve been handed from pillar to post but this is a proud moment.' 

The equerry post is rank-ranged, meaning Major White may be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel while serving. 

Prince Harry, 36, left his military posts after stepping back from his royal duties in March to move to California with the Duchess of Sussex, 39.

Princess Anne, 70, is believed to be next-in-line to take up the role of Royal Marines captain general.

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