EXCLUSIVE: Many royal occasions recently have seen soldiers keel over, however there are steps that could be taken to prevent it, according to a doctor.
Royal events such as Trooping the Colour and Order of the Garter have a proud tradition of military pomp and pageantry, however recently some soldiers on parade have lost consciousness during a number of ceremonies. The June heat caused one soldier during King Charles’s first Order of the Garter at Windsor Castle to pass out, just days after another similar incident occurred at Trooping the Colour, while three fainted during the Colonel’s Review earlier in the month.
However, steps can be taken to prevent soldiers from fainting, even in the summer heat, with thick uniforms and heavy equipment also putting the body under further strain. Dr Adeline Rankin, who used to be in the RAF, has experienced the struggle of being on parade for two hours in a hot uniform and carrying a heavy rifle. She explained how the phenomenon happens: “Fainting in general occurs when blood flow to the brain is reduced or insufficient to allow normal function.
“In military personnel who are usually otherwise very fit and well, so-called parade ground syncope happens because the normal contraction of the leg muscles is reduced when standing still. “The calf muscle pump is important in returning venous blood from the legs to the heart to contribute to cardiac output and hence blood flow to the brain. “Standing still, particularly in warm weather, contributes to pooling of venous blood in the legs as well as dilation of blood vessels and dehydration. “Blood flow to the brain is reduced, the person faints, falls to the floor removing the effect of gravity, blood flow improves, and they regain consciousness.”
Dr Rankin added there is one thing that could help tackle this, and it could be as simple as eating a packet of crisps before the parade. She said: “There is some evidence for increasing salt intake to prevent fainting on parade. Water follows salt in the blood and blood volume is increased and fainting is less likely to occur.” Following the sweltering conditions at the Colonel’s Review on June 10 Prince William tweeted a message of support and thanks to those who had taken part.
He wrote: “A big thank you to every solider (sic) who took part in the Colonel’s Review this morning in the heat. Difficult conditions but you all did a really good job. Thank you. W.” The Prince of Wales has expressed his concern at how soldiers suffer in hot conditions during parades and is said to want more measures in place to combat the effects of these occasions. A source told The Mirror: “He made it clear he is keen to see measures in place to support teams on parade.”
The Army said that none of the soldiers who fainted required hospital treatment