HEIR to the throne William and wife Kate each raised a glass of Guinness yesterday as they toasted St Patrick’s Day with the Irish Guards.
Kate, 41, formally became the regiment’s Colonel — taking over from her husband who, as Prince of Wales, now heads the Welsh Guards.
She ensured downpours did not dampen spirits as she took her first salute on the parade ground in Aldershot, Hants.
She and William, 40, then joined celebrations in the noisy Junior Ranks dining hall.
In a speech, Wills told guardsmen that being their Colonel had been “one of the great honours of my life”.
He added: “I may be stepping aside, but in Colonel Catherine you have a committed, focussed, and already incredibly loyal 11th Colonel.
“As you serve together over the years ahead, know that I will continue to watch you, with huge pride in having been one of you.”
Kate, who braved the rain without an umbrella, said: “I really couldn’t be prouder to stand in front of you here today.
“It really is a true honour to be your Colonel.
“I am here to listen to you, to support you, and to champion you in all you do. This is a responsibility I do not take lightly.”
She hailed their inspiring work and “boundless, irreverent, glorious sense of humour”.
The princess was given posies by six-year-old Aoife and four-year-old Alice — the daughters of Warrant Office Second Class Alistair Wigley.
Crouching, she thanked them and said: “You both look gorgeous.”
Kate and William were then greeted with three cheers in the raucous dining hall where the Senior Guardsman proposed a toast with Guinness.
William sipped from a pint while Kate held a half-pint.
Wills went round tables to say his farewells after 13 years. At one, he said: “Best of luck and keep in touch. And a very happy St Paddy’s Day.”
Guardsman Charlie Aldred, 19, chatted to the prince over a drink and said afterwards: “He said he was going to miss our noise and humour and that we are really laid back but still got the job done.”
The visit came a week after Kate wore camouflage gear to join the Irish Guards on a snowy Salisbury Plain.