This British soldier celebrated the queen's birthday with a nod to changing traditions

On Queen Elizabeth's 92nd birthday, some pretty awesome history happened in the United Kingdom.

With style, swagger, and an incredibly dapper look, Indian-born British guardsman Charanpreet Singh Lall became the first soldier to don a turban during the Trooping the Colour parade.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.


Trooping the Colour is a celebration that has commemorated sovereign birthdays for more than 250 years. It also functions as a display of military drills, music, and horsemanship. Marching alongside his colleagues who were wearing their well-known bearskin hats (ceremonial military caps that date back to the 17th century) Lall proudly wore one of the most visible representations of his religion while showing his pride for his country.

"Being the first turban-wearing Sikh to troop the colour and to be part of the escort it is a really high honour for myself, and hopefully for everyone else as well," Lall told BBC.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Originally from Punjab, India, Lall's family moved to the U.K. when he was just a baby. Living in Leicester for most of his life, the 22-year-old joined the British army in 2016, and has worked to bring representation and important changes to one of the country's most traditional industries.

By highlighting his religion, Lall is not only making history, he's making representation matter in the U.K.

"I hope that more people like me, not just Sikhs but from other religions and different backgrounds, that they will be encouraged to join the Army," Lall said.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.

Known for its commitment to traditionalism and European heritage, Britain isn't exactly expected to budge on certain traditions. But people like Lall are changing that. As the country welcomes one of its first black duchesses, Lall joins a changing British landscape that prominently shows people of all ethnicities, genders, and religions in important, respected roles. It's a remarkable, long overdue change that can create space for other British citizens who want to do good things in their country, while also respecting their culture and beliefs.

Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

"I hope that people watching ... will just acknowledge it and that they will look at it as a new change in history," he said. "I'm quite proud and I know that a lot of other people are proud of me as well,"

People are definitely watching, and they're incredibly proud.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less