The Regimental System


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The South Alberta Light Horse on parade in 2012.

Two key elements of the Regimental system are the Colonel and the Colonel-in-Chief.

With roots going back to the 18th century British Army, when Colonels owned and equipped their regiments, the Colonel of today is the head of the family and responsible for the protection of the best interests of the regiment. All aspects of the Regiment are his concern and he is ultimately responsible for every action performed by his Regiment or by any member of the unit.


The Colonel, or Commanding Officer, is generally appointed for a 3 year term and is specifically trained for the command and administrative duties of the position. A more ceremonial and visible but equally important position is the Colonel-in-Chief, who is always a member of the royal family. This position helps fuse the regiment into the national fabric. Regiments often take their name from a one-time association with the royal family. Every "King's", "Queen's" and "Prince of Wales's" regiment derives its title from a specific royal who held that title. Once honoured with such a title, the regiment keeps it in perpetuity.