The Queen’s Guard will be at the King and Queen Ball this year after being cut in 2001 for safety and logistical reasons.
The performance, which had previously been a tradition at the College, was cut from the Ball by student organizers in conjunction with Vice President for Student Affairs Sam Sadler and Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs Mark Constantine. They cited problems regarding crowd movement, limited space and declining interest.
The current Queen’s Guard captain, Andy Fiorillo ’09, described the guard’s motivation in appealing for reinstatement, citing the visit of Queen Elizabeth last year.
“We’ve been trying to build on the success of last spring when Queen Elizabeth came,” Fiorillo said. “This year seemed like a logical year to bring it back.”
Fiorillo first approached Constantine in his pursuit for reinstatement. However, Fiorillo said that most of the old guard had graduated, posing a great challenge.
“After the last couple times they tried to get it reinstated, [the old members] just stopped, because it was not going anywhere,” he said.
After years of accepting the removal of the guard’s performance at the ball, Fiorillo renewed the push for reinstatement this year.
“The logistics questions were answered. [Fiorillo] gave some very concrete proposals about how it could potentially work in a safe environment without having to move the crowd,” Constantine said. “[Fiorillo] was very proactive and sent things to the Student Assembly and to people that would be making decisions.”
Fiorillo said that certain changes to the guard’s annual performance would address safety and logistical concerns.
“What we’ve done this year is move the performance outside of the tent so hopefully most, if not all, of the people in tent can see us,” Fiorillo said. “We’ve also provided spotters that are going to be standing at the edge of the crowds, just in case.”
Moreover, the guard’s performance at this year’s Ball is serving as the basis for future decisions about whether or not to keep the guard’s performance as an annual tradition.
“I’ve been told that this is our test-run year,” he said.
The College’s official drill squad was established in 1957 when Queen Elizabeth II visited Williamsburg to honor the 350th anniversary of Jamestown. The first guard was composed of a select group of members of the College’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. The group was officially recognized in 1961 by College President Davis Y. Paschall.
Constantine explained why the troop was not allowed to perform six years ago.
“The student leaders at that time didn’t feel that [the guard] made a big deal on the dance,” Constantine said. “People felt as though the guard was a little bit more militaristic and said it’s not essential to make this event a success.”
Constantine maintained his stance that the guard’s performance is not imperative to the success of the King and Queen Ball.
“As much as anything, I do really think that it didn’t make a difference on the success of the event and I’d still say that’s probably the case,” he said.
Fiorillo said student interest in the performance and tradition was important.
“We’ve added a couple new things that will hopefully tweak student interest,” Fiorillo said. “But that’s the other concern that we have: getting students to want us to come back.”
Constantine expressed confidence that the problems that dismissed the Queen’s Guard in the past would not hinder them this year.
“I don’t anticipate any issues at all,” he said.