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Princess Anne (centre), Colonel Gregory Kennedy Command, 37 Canadian Brigade Group (left) and Moncton mayor Dawn Arnold (right) watch the march past during the 8th Canadian Hussars Exercise of the Freedom of the City of Moncton Parade on May 20, 2023.Ron Ward/The Canadian Press

A visiting member of the Royal Family heaped praise on Canada’s oldest continually serving cavalry regiment on Saturday, saying its storied military accomplishments date back to before it formally had a country to call its own.

Princess Anne said the 8th Canadian Hussars, often referred to as the Princess Louise’s, had amassed an impressive history of service during its 175-year history.

Her remarks, made in her capacity as the regiment’s colonel-in-chief, came in Moncton, N.B., amid a series of weekend festivities intended to mark a milestone anniversary for the southern New Brunswick unit.

“The regiment and its soldiers have provided continuous service to the province of New Brunswick and Canada for the last 175 years,” she said in a morning speech. “And by anybody’s standards, that’s no mean achievement.”

The princess noted the regiment has historical roots dating back to the American Revolution, during which she said soldiers earned a “reputation for military excellence.” Many soldiers later relocated to New Brunswick, and Anne said the modern regiment’s official formation in 1848 was spurred in part by a desire to establish protection from its neighbour to the southwest.

James Lockyer, the regiment’s honorary colonel, also referenced its history in a recent interview.

“Its formation back in 1848, as a response to expansionist American ideology flowing from the Revolutionary War, and then picking up again during the Civil War, was quite remarkable,” he told The Canadian Press in the leadup to this weekend’s anniversary festivities. “These were townsfolk, craftsmen, artisans, farmers who came together to defend New Brunswick at that time, and then subsequently, Canada. We are the oldest, continuous serving army regiment in Canada.”

In its current incarnation, Princess Anne said the 8th Hussars have continued to build on its early reputation and has contributed to major Canadian combat missions. Those included serving in both world wars as well as the conflict in Bosnia and Afghanistan, among others.

“They … established an enviable reputation which requires hard work and commitment to maintain,” she said.

Anne, sister to the King, has maintained a close relationship with the regiment since her appointment to the ceremonial rank of colonel-in-chief in June 1972.

She’s slated to take part in a number of anniversary celebrations this weekend in Moncton and nearby Sussex, N.B., where the regiment has its headquarters.

In addition to meeting past and present regiment members, the princess is expected to attend a commemorative concert, a parade and a gala dinner over the course of the weekend celebrations.