1. Sir Rupert Sebastian Percival Clarence Crisp (Bart.)
Colonel of the Honourable Company of the Ducal Guard
Sir Rupert Crisp is the son of a famous general of the Electorate of Belvoir’s army who shocked everyone by defecting and offering his services to the Duchy of Charnwood some decades ago. Sir Rupert has never displayed anything like the same martial attitude or soldierly inclination of his father, the general. Nevertheless, at the insistence of his father, he reluctantly entered the army as an ensign at the age of 15.
After disappointing his superiors enormously by demonstrating an outrageous lack of any military aptitude or bearing, Sir Rupert progressed only by purchasing his commissions using his family’s considerable wealth (much of which was acquired through war booty).
Fearful that his next purchase might place him in a field command role, he was coaxed into the most prestigious command position which could do the least harm; the colonelcy of the Honourable Company of the Ducal Guard. It was one of the Duke’s ministers who wisely suggested that the newly vacant colonelcy of the Ducal Guard might prove to be an acceptable option to all concerned. It was an astute appointment. The Ducal Guard was well suited to a man whose keenest military interest was in fashion rather than fighting.
The Ducal Guard are seldom involved in any campaigning whatsoever, their main duties being escorting or guarding the Duke or other members of his household. Consequently, its ranks are largely formed of either invalids or old veterans to whom the Duchy is keen to honour for their past services.
Likewise, the Guards’ officers are staffed either by experienced invalids or by the less able sons of well-to-do families. In Charnwood, it is said that the most promising sons of the nobility go into the army; the least promising into the Ducal Guard! Indeed, to label someone a “guardsman” has become a popular slight within the army, intended to mean that someone is considered something of a popinjay. The term could certainly apply to the vain and fashion conscious Sir Rupert, for whom the smartness, colour and cut of his uniform, not to say that of his entire guard, takes clear precedence over any other military duty. A notorious dandy, at 47 years of age Sir Rupert is often said to be ‘married to the service’. Most certainly he is not married to anybody else, female company being of little interest to him. He much prefers the company of men; younger men most of all.
The original uniform of the Guard featured a navy coat with tan breeches. On his appointment to Colonel, a horrified Sir Rupert made it his sole mission to develop a far brighter and more fashionable uniform for them. In so doing, he made himself a real nuisance to the Commander-in-Chief (Crisp’s shrill tantrums were rumoured to be an audible feature of such discussions) such that only his prestigious background saved his position with the Duke.
Nonetheless, after rejecting initial recommendations by the Duke himself, he eventually achieved his wish, the Ducal Guard becoming quickly nicknamed by the rest of the army as the “Rhubarb and Custards”, on account of their scarlet coats and yellow facings. Sir Rupert, however, is proud that he now commands, in his own words, “the gayest troops in the army”.