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Modified for this web-site, original by Christian Garin, from an article by Rex Maddox/David C. Henderson


The Clan bodyguard is another way we help keep our heritage alive. The bodyguard was created to assist convenors at gatherings of the Clan and to manage the more formal activities (parades, opening and closing ceremonies, receptions, ceilidhs, AGM functions, weddings, funerals, etc.) of the Clan.  The bodyguard’s function is ceremonial so don’t expect to see us squaring off with any Campbells. However, the concept of a bodyguard does have historical origins.

The MacEanruigs had a reputation of being very large and strong Scots, well suited for providing personal protection and were sought out by many to do so. The best example of this is the case of the MacEanruigs of Glencoe who were the bodyguard to the Chieftain of the Clan Donald at Glencoe, the MacIan.


There are a few requirements you must meet in order to be able to serve your Clan as a member of the Bodyguard.  A predominent goal for the bodyguard is to set a standard of appearance for the rest of the Clan.  A major consideration for being accepted as a member of the Bodyguard is to own a kilt, preferably in the Ancient, Muted or Weathered tartan; however, any of the Henderson tartans are suitable except the Dress pattern.  All bodyguard members should have at their disposal the use of a broadsword, cleidhmor, dirk, targe or any other form of arms used in Scotland during the fight for independence from Great Britain.  Additonal requirements include a good temperment, a willingness to support the goals and objectives of the Clan Henderson Society, and the ability to plan and organize groups of people on short notice.   Attendance at Scottish games, festivals and Celtic events, whenever possible, is highly desired of all Bodyguard members.


Now that you have heard about all the background and and requirements, and you still want to join our ranks the next thing you need to know is what we actually do. Our goal is to assist the Event Convenor (those persons who set up the Clan tent and help others learn about the Clan and Society). At Games and festivals, this usually means the Bodyguard manages the Clans particpation in the Games clan march and plans, organizes and helps conduct a Walkabout–with the Convenors concurrence. The term “Walkabout” comes from Australia where it indicates a stroll, which is also significant because our Chief, Alistair Henderson of Fordell, lives “down unda.” The Walkabout performed by the Society is basically a tartan parade where a piper (and drummer, if possible), lead the clan contingent comprised of the Bodyguard, clan officers, banners and flags and any clan members present. It provides an excellent opportunity to show our pride in the Clan.

“So tell me again, what should I wear now?”

There will be individual ideas as to the “proper” dress, for the Bodyguard, with variations affected only by the standards of historical precedent. The only “uniform” requirement established at this time is the wearing of a kilt in any of the Henderson tartans (with the exception of the Dress tartan). Hats, caps, jackets, boots, gillies all will be of personal choice and keeping within bounds of traditional garb. The Bodyguard should not present a “gaudy” appearance and a desired goal is that it become the standard by which other Clan members will want to dress for all occasions.

Most military paraphernalia is welcome if the individual desires to wear personal awards on a military style shirt or day wear jacket. Bodyguard members will not wear badges, which show attendance at Games or Festivals, with any military apparel. Rank insignia, badges or patches affiliated with a particular military unit or organization will not be worn.

The “badge of office for State Bodyguard Leaders will be a Blue sash, provided by the Clan, which will be worn over the right shoulder, draped to below the left hip and riding over any baldric or sword belt. The sash will be worn under an evening or day wear jacket. No insignia, pins, badges or patches will be placed on the sash unless specifically approved by this office and meant for all Bodyguard Leaders. Nametags will be worn on the right breast above a shirt or jacket pocket or will be equal to that height when affixed to a shirt or jacket without pockets. Sporran worn by Bodyguard members will be chosen in accordance with individual tastes, however, those made of fur are particularly desirable. The “badge of office” for the Head of the Bodyguard is a green sash for day events and a Gold sash at evening, or formal, events. It is worn as described above.

“So tell me now, in which order do we march today?”

Processions (Walkabouts and parades) should be led by one or two pipers who are followed by drummers and then the Clan banner (preferably carried by two children). The banner will be followed by the national flags of the U.S. and Scotland (U.S. flag on the right) and these followed by the Keeper of the Sporran (Treasurer). Next will be the Clan shield followed by the Bodyguard Leader, the Bodyguards, the Chief’s standard or chieftain’s pinsel and that personage. Should other Clan officers be present (elected or appointed by the President) they will be in line of march immediately following the Chief or Chieftain.  Spouses accompany Clan Leaders in the march but sposes of elcted and appointed officals of the Society march in the Clans main body.  The main body of Clan members will follow behind the elected or appointed officers, and should carry as many clan flags as possible–starting from the back and moving forward. At least one tartan flag should be carried in the final rank of marchers to signify the end of the Clan procession.

The Clan Gonfalon, Standard and/or Chief’s pinsel–as welll as any national flags should be carried “on the high.”   In the main body of the clan, carrying tartan flags should be an informal gesture with the flag carried over a shoulder and at an angle to keep the flag itself from touching the ground. No flag, standard, or pinsel is “dipped” to any personage! Any salutes necessary are given by the Bodyguard (in unison) and on command of the senior Bodyguard member present.  Typically a salute is only given to the Clan Chief, Chieftain, or other personage of import on a reviewing stand.  However, without the Chief’s consent, the Clan Standard or pinsel are not dipped to another Clan Chief.

During the procession an interval should be maintained.  The clan should follow the group ahead by eight to ten paces and within the clan, intervals will normally be three to four spaces  for each “block” of marchers–1) the Pipers/drummers; 2) the Banner, Bodyguard and national colors ; 3) the Clan Leadership; 4) the main body of Clansmen; 5) the final tartan flag .

“Hey mate, let’s have a walkabout”

The Clan Henderson Walkabout receives its name from the Australian term for a stroll with friends or an informal walk. We use it as a means of advertising and showing the Henderson tartan at Games and Festivals and it is our  Clan spirit that  is on display.  It is carried out with the consent of the Henderson Convenor and arranged the Bodyguard Leader, usually for about 2 p.m. on each afternoon of the event. The Bodyguard Leader will establish the Walkabout route and consult with Clan officers of higher position to ensure acceptability. He will brief the piper(s) and others as necessary to ensure the route is known and understood. A Walkabout will normally be conducted starting at the Henderson Clan tent, proceeding through the Clan area and if possible, through the vendor areas, being cautious about the possibility of disturbing other Games activities, such as harp, violin and other musical activities.

“Anything else I should be prepared for?”

Common sense will prevail in many cases, and one can do little harm if each Bodyguard members understands that all that we do should be done with pride, dignity and common sense; more often than not, we may not have all the bodies present to re-create the situation given in the marching order described above; nevertheless, the same basic order should be followed in as much as the situation allows. For instance, a not-too-often use of the bodyguard has to do with formal events, such an official dinner/function/Ceilidh. If there is a formal entrance of the head table, the group of officials should be piped in to their table. Bodyguards would be responsible for arranging this. An example would be (i present): a (any) piper(s), followed by drummer(s); then the Henderson gonfalon (shield), the bodyguard, then those personages and spouses and other dignitaries to be seated at the Head table.  If the Chief or a Chieftain is present they will be accompanied by their pinsel.  When everyone is in place at the head table, the Bodyguard Leader will propose a toast. (A possible toast is “To the Chief, our great nations and ancestral home and their leaders -and an appropriate response to this toast is “Slainte Mhath” [slanh-cha vah], which means “Good Health”). The Bodyguard would also assist  for the Ceilidh master, as required, throughout the evening.

At any event, whenever the Chief or a Chieftain is on the move, he should be accompanied by a representative of the Clan carrying the standard or pinsel and a Bodyguard member.

Sola Virtus Nobilitat