When I visited Edinburgh Zoo in June I had no idea I was in the presence of a famous and high ranking military King Penguin called Nils Olav II. Nils (to his friends) was knighted on 15th August having previously carried the rank of colonel-in-chief. Nils has been promoted each time the Norwegian Kings Guard visit the zoo when they attend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Nils is the first penguin to be Knighted which is approved by the King himself. A video of the ceremony which was held at Edinburgh zoo can be seen *here*.
This all came about when a lieutenant called Nils Egelien became interested in Edinburgh Zoo's penguin colony when he attended the Tattoo in 1961. When the Guards once again returned to Edinburgh in 1972, he arranged for the unit to adopt a penguin which was named Nils Olav in honour of Nils Egelien and King Olav V of Norway. The new recruit was given the rank of lance corporal and has been promoted each time the King's Guard has returned to the Tattoo. The original Nils Olav died shortly after his promotion to sergeant, and his place of honour was taken by Nils Olav II. You can hear more about Nils and this bizarre but endearing relationship as a mascot for the Norwegian Kings Guard *here* which is a broadcast from the BBC Today Programme.The photo above is a picture I took of the King penguins when I visited the zoo. The penguins are let out of their pen every day for a voluntary walk which is a huge attraction. I have no idea if one of them is Nils or not but they all had a military bearing, walking regally along the path taking in the admiration of the crowds. Well, they are King penguins after all!
I will announce the winner of the 'Whose Bedroom' competition soon :)