Denmark ends height requirements for soldiers known for unit outside palaces

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The Danish defense said Wednesday that they are abolishing the height requirements for people serving with the Danish Royal Life Guards, mainly known for being a ceremonial unit outside Denmark’s royal palaces.

Joining the Danish defense “is not about whether you are male or female or tall or short. It is about the ability to solve the task," the armed forces said.

Until now, it was required for men had to be at least 175 centimeters tall (5-foot-9) and women 169 centimeters (5-foot-6) to serve in the unit. The Danish Royal Life Guards is a mechanized infantry regiment of the Danish Army, founded in 1658 by Danish King Frederik III.

“The previous height requirements at the Royal Life Guard do not make operational sense,” Maj. Gen. Gunner Arpe Nielsen, chief of the Army Command, said in the statement. “There must be no special requirements for height if it is not operationally justified.”

Arpe Nielsen told Danish broadcaster DR he hoped that the abolition of the height requirement for conscripts can get more women into the Royal Life Guard unit, with DR saying that the proportion of female conscripts last year in the unit was 7.8% while proportion of female conscripts in the entire Armed Forces for 2022 was 26.8%.

In Denmark, military service is mandatory for men but voluntary for women. In 1999, the Danish army decided that the Royal Life Guards should accept female troops. The first two female soldiers joined the guard in July that year.

The unit is chiefly made up of draftees who volunteered for the role. They steadfastly stand guard at such places as the downtown Copenhagen Amalienborg Palace. Every day, troops march through downtown Copenhagen in their uniforms, which include a black bearskin hat, and perform the changing of the guard.


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