The Papal Swiss Guard celebrates its 500th anniversary at the Vatican on Saturday 6 May and the oldest regiment in the British army will be participating in the festivities. The Honourable Artillery Companys pikemen and muskateers will parade in their distinctive 17th century red uniforms before and after the swearing-in ceremony for this years intake of Swiss Guard recruits. The British regiment was established in 1537 by King Henry VIII and in the UK has a ceremonial role (including firing the gun salute from the Tower of London on state occasions) as well as providing troops for the Territorial Army.
The Papal Swiss Guard was founded on 6 May 1527, when 147 members died protecting Pope Clement VII from the army of the Holy Roman Emperor. Saturdays ceremony will begin at 16.30 but entrance to Piazza S. Pietro will start two hours before. An exhibition of photographs, objects and film footage celebrating the Swiss Guards last 500 years runs until 30 June at Braccio di Carlo Magno del Colonnato del Bernin, Piazza S. Pietro, 09.00-19.00.