The world-famous King penguin, who is already a Brigadier, now has the grand title of Major General Sir Nils Olav III, Baron of the Bouvet Islands and official mascot of His Majesty the King’s Guard of Norway.
Following a carefully choreographed parade past His Majesty the King’s Guard Band and Drill Team of Norway, Sir Nils was awarded his new badge of honour at a special ceremony at the wildlife conservation charity’s Penguins Rock. The ceremony was attended by over 160 uniformed soldiers of His Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard who are taking part in The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Show, Stories.
Jason Barrett, Chief Operating Officer at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, said: “The theme for The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo this year is Stories and what better connection to our Show than the story of Sir Nils Olav and his rise through the ranks. His Majesty’s Kings Guard of Norway bring a rich history, honour, and tradition to our cast and have been a fan favourite for years. Having acts like the Kings Guard showcases the cross-cultural component found within the Tattoo and is what makes it so unique among entertainment offerings. On behalf of the entire cast and crew of The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, I am delighted to congratulate Sir Nils Olav III on his promotion to Major General.”
David Field, Chief Executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, said: “We are honoured to host His Majesty the King’s Guard Band and Drill Team of Norway once again as they return to Edinburgh Zoo to bestow this prestigious new title upon our king penguin, Sir Nils Olav. It is a very proud moment and represents the ongoing close collaboration between our two countries, Scotland, and Norway.”
Staff Sergeant Fredrik Gresseth from His Majesty the King’s Guard Band and Drill Team of Norway added: "Sir Nils Olav is the mascot of His Majesty the King’s Guard and was adopted during one of the Band and Drill team’s participation at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. The tradition of sending Nils Olav and his family fish, Christmas cards and visiting him during the unit’s participation at the Tattoo have been an important part of the Battalion’s history. His promotion this August, for good conduct and for being a superb example for the rest of the penguins at the Edinburgh Zoo, is a milestone in his career as mascot for the guard. The guardsmen of the Drill team look forward to this rare occasion of being inspected by their own mascot, while the band will set the atmosphere worthy of a knighted King Penguin."
The regal, black, white and yellow bird is the mascot of His Majesty the King of Norway’s Guard, and his very own story dates back as far as 1972, when a king penguin at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo was named after two people: Major Nils Egelien, who organised his adoption by RZSS Edinburgh Zoo in 1972, and the then-King of Norway, King Olav.
The Guardsmen visit Sir Nils at the zoo every few years while they are in the city performing at The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo and give him a promotion. Since his adoption in 1972, he has worked his way up the ranks, starting at Mascot, before being promoted to Corporal in 1982, Sergeant in 1987, Regimental Sergeant Major in 1993, Honourable Regimental Sergeant Major in 2001, Colonel-in-Chief in 2005, Knighthood in 2008, Brigadier Sir in 2016 and now General Major in 2023.
Tickets are still available for the Tattoo, that runs until 26 August 2023 and can be purchased here or on the phone on 0131 225 1188. Tickets for the 2024 Show, Journeys, will be on general sale from 28 August 2023.