The colonel-in-chief of the Norwegian Royal Guard is a penguin

The king penguin was adopted in 1972 by Norwegian Royal Guard member Major Nils Egelien whom – together with the then-King of Norway, Olav – he was named after.

At first, Sir Nils was the Guard’s mascot, but he quickly rose through the ranks. He was made corporal in 1982 and sergeant five years later. In 2005 he was promoted to colonel-in-chief before receiving the prestigious honour of a knighthood in 2008.

Sir Nils lives at Edinburgh Zoo in Scotland. The zoo has a close connection with Norway after the Norwegian family of Christian Salvesen gave them their first penguin over 100 years ago. The zoo’s penguin enclosure also contains the world’s biggest penguin pool!

Whenever the Norwegian guardsmen are performing at the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, they take time to visit Sir Nils. He is highly regarded among them and has even received medals due to his good conduct and outstanding service.


Image credit: Crown Copyright under the Open Government Licence