CEUD MILE FAILTE!....    Check out an upcoming Scottish Game or Festival near you. Click on the "Games" tab for a link to more information on each game.

by Christian Garin, original by Rex Maddox/David C. Henderson


The Clan bodyguard is just another way of keeping 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 only ceremonial so don’t expect to see us squaring off with any Campbells. However, the group does have its historical origins. The MacEanruigs were very large and strong Scots, well suited for providing personal protection and were sought out by many. 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. However, should you have information on any other Henderson bodyguard activities in history, please advise the Head of the Bodyguard through the web site at your earliest convenience.


There are a few requirements in order to be able to serve your Clan as a member of the bodyguard. The primary desire is to maintain uniformity and set a standard of appearance for the rest of the clan. The main condition for bodyguard membership is to own a kilt, preferably in the ancient or muted tartan; however, any of the Henderson tartans are suitable. Attendance at Scottish games, festivals and Celtic events whenever possible is highly desired of all Bodyguard members. As an appointed officer of the Clan, it is necessary to maintain an active membership within the society. 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.


Now that you have heard about all the background 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). The Bodyguard manages the formation of the Walkabout. This term comes 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 followed by 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 but should 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 Regional Bodyguard Leaders will be a red 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 State Bodyguard Leaders will be a blue sash. It will be 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, 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 and spouse. Other Clan members will follow behind the elected or appointed officers, carrying Clan flags which may be distributed amongst the marchers. At least one tartan flag should be carried in the final rank of marchers to signify the end of the Clan procession.

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, with the Clan Chief, Chieftain and any other Clan Chief or other personage of import on a reviewing stand being the object of the salute.

Intervals between marching ranks will normally be three to four spaces within the marching unit with the lead group (pipers when available, otherwise the banner) following the group ahead by about eight to ten paces.

“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 Clan tartan at Games and Festivals. Our Clan spirit is evident from this parade which is normally carried out by arrangement between the Bodyguard Leader and event managers at 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 in the Clan area and through the vendor areas as desired, 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?”

There are plenty of things to think about, but one cannot anticipate every situation that may present itself. Common sense will prevail in many cases, and one can do little harm if each bodyguard 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. If present, I envision a (any) piper, followed by drummer(s); then comes Henderson shield, the bodyguard, then the standard or pinsel, followed by that personage and spouse and other dignitaries at the Head table. When everyone is in place, the head bodyguard would 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 arrange for the Ceilidh master to run the event of the evening.

In another situation where a Chief or Chieftain is on the move during a formal event-he should be accompanied by a representative of the Clan carrying the standard or pinsel and a bodyguard.

Sola Virtus Nobilitat