St. Petersburg Times
 tampabaycom
tampabay.com

Print storySubscribe to the Times

British army demotes mascot

The ceremonial pet's atrocious performance during a parade to honor the queen left superiors "no option but to demote Billly."

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published June 25, 2006

LONDON - A British army regiment's ceremonial pet goat was demoted in disgrace after it marched out of line before a host of dignitaries during a parade to mark Queen Elizabeth II's birthday, a military spokesman said Saturday.

The military mascot, a 6-year-old male goat called Billy, was downgraded from the rank of lance corporal to fusilier - the same status as a private - after army chiefs ruled his poor display had ruined the ceremony this month at a British army base in Episkopi, western Cyprus.

Lance Cpl. Dai Davies, 22, the goat's handler, was unable to keep control during the June 16 march. The mascot darted from side to side, throwing soldiers off their stride, Capt. Crispian Coates, a spokesman, said by telephone from the base in Cyprus.

"The goat, which has been the regiment's mascot since 2001, was supposed to be leading the march, but would not stay in line," Coates said. "After consideration, the commanding officer decided he had no option but to demote Billy."

Ambassadors from Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands were among those who attended the march along with U.N. dignitaries.

Since the goat's demotion, soldiers of a lower rank are no longer expected to salute Billy as a sign of respect, Coates said.

Capt. William Rose, a soldier present at the parade, said the goat "was trying to head-butt the waist and nether regions of the drummers."

The 1st Battalion, the Royal Welsh, has had a long tradition of traveling with a pet goat used in ceremonies. The Welsh regiment was presented with a goat from the royal herd in 1746, and Billy is a descendant from the same bloodline, Britain's Ministry of Defense said.

A total of 11 ceremonial pets - including a ferret, an Indian black buck and a ram - are kept by the British army, but regiments do not take the mascots to combat zones. British legislators were told last month that keeping the pets costs the equivalent of $55,000 a year.

[Last modified June 25, 2006, 07:41:14]


World and national headlines

  • British army demotes mascot
  • Iran reacts coolly to German pressure
  • Analysis: Latest string of violence dampens recent good news
  • Somali leader has al-Qaida ties
  • Thousands in East Timor want prime minister out
  • Critics decry immigrant detention plans
  • Did Abramoff sell access to White House?
  • Bush pushes for line-item veto power
  • Miami suspect's father can't explain terror arrest
  • Patsy Ramsey, mother of JonBenet, dies at 49
  • U.S. releases 14 from Gitmo prison
  • Fake pouch? He doesn't mind
  • Utah tribe divided over storing nuclear waste
  • Katrina presents New Orleans way to reform courts
  • Hezbollah, al-Qaida mirror tension between Shiites, Sunnis
  • Israel stages arrest raid in Gaza Strip
  • Economy stars in Mexico's vote
  • Foes of gulf drilling are losing ground

  • Canada Report
  • Conservatives pass 1st test with bills to set an agenda
  • Back to Top

    © 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
    490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111