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The Queen and Prince Philip self-isolated for four months at Windsor Castle with a few members of their staff and soldiers to safeguard them. However, 13 members of the Welsh Guards didn’t abide by the strict lockdown measures and burst their COVID bubbles by attending a gathering.
These guards, part of a group of 16 soldiers in Windsor, mingled with members of the public in June as they joined a party in a riverside park.
Most of the guardsmen were sentenced last week following an internal inquiry and are to serve between 14 to 28 days in prison.
Four soldiers also tested positive for cocaine and will be kicked out of the Army after having served custodial sentences at the military’s Glasshouse prison in Colchester.
The three remaining suspects will learn whether they are guilty in the next few days.
According to The Sun, Lt Col Henry Llewelyn-Usher, the Welsh Guard’s commanding officer, was so disappointed in his soldiers he threw the book at them for “disobeying a lawful order”.
A defence source told the newspaper: “It is a serious offence.
“His order was you must comply with COVID guidance and they disobeyed him.
“The Army has very high standards and these soldiers were found wanting.
“They had gone to a park near the river to have a few beers and play football but things got out of hand.”
The party took place less than two weeks after the Queen attended a socially-distance Trooping the Colour parade in the castle’s Quadrangle.
All of the troops involved were based at Combermere Barracks in Windsor.
An Army Spokesperson said: “We are proud of our Armed Forces for the support they have provided the NHS in response to COVID-19, but we demand the highest standards of behaviour from all of our personnel.
“Following a breach in social distancing by several Welsh Guardsmen an investigation was conducted and the incident has been dealt with internally.”
Despite the fact that these guardsmen were on duty at Windsor Castle, the elderly royals were not in danger of contracting COVID-19 through them due to their lack of contact with the soldiers, according to a source.
They told the Daily Mail: “There was never any danger to the Queen and Prince Philip.
“They would have had absolutely no contact with the royals or members of the royal household.”
Members of the staff self-isolating at Windsor with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were on a three-week-on, three-week-off rota.
While on duty, they were barred from mixing with other people or seeing their own families.
After creating the so-called HMS Bubble, a source said at the height of the coronavirus crisis: “Her senior staff, including her private secretary Sir Edward Young, and his assistants have all moved into the castle.
“They won’t be seeing their families because no risks can be taken and they can’t go in and out.
“The most important thing is to protect the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh from the virus.
“If something happened to them it doesn’t bear thinking about.”
The term HMS Bubble was first used to describe life in isolation at the castle by the Queen’s Master of the Household, Tony Johnstone-Burt.
In a memo to the staff which came to light in April, the former Royal Navy Officer compared the experience of remaining for weeks in isolation with the royals in order to protect them to his experience at sea.
He said: “There are 22 Royal Household staff inside the Bubble, and it struck me that our predicament is not dissimilar to my former life in the Royal Navy on a long overseas deployment.
“Indeed, the challenges that we are facing whether self-isolating alone at home, or with our close household and families, have parallels with being at sea away from home for many months, and having to deal with a sense of dislocation, anxiety and uncertainty.”
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