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He started from the bottom, now he's here.
Well, at less than three feet tall, Brigadier Sir Nils Olav is still kind of at the bottom of the Royal Norwegian Guard. But the king penguin, who lives at the Edinburgh Zoo, is climbing the ranks — and in a ceremony held on August 22, the black-and-white knight was promoted to the title of Brigadier.
Confused? In 1972, a king penguin at the Edinburgh Zoo was named after two people: Major Nils Egelien, who organized his adoption, and the then-King of Norway, King Olav. The penguin became the mascot of the Norwegian Guard and has since been on a steady climb, being promoted to Corporal in 1982, Sergeant in 1987, Regimental Sergeant Major in 1993, Honourable Regimental Sergeant Major in 2001, Colonel-in-Chief in 2005, Knighthood in 2008 and now Brigadier Sir.
The tradition of promoting a penguin is symbolic of the friendly relations between Scotland and Norway. The role of Nils Olav has actually been held by three separate penguins over the years, as king penguins only live about 15 years in the wild and slightly longer in captivity.
But make no mistake: the current Brigadier Sir Nils Olav is a star in his own right. "He is a very calm and regal bird and has an aura that suggests he knows how important he is," said Gavrielle Kirk-Cohen, a representative for the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland.
The ceremony was attended by 50 uniformed members of the Norwegian Guard, and the promotion was formally approved by the king of Norway. The unflappable creature walked in a parade and inspected the soldiers of the Guard (who seemed appropriately starstruck) before getting a medal of honor pinned to his wing.
Don't worry. There was a live stream.
According to Kirk-Cohen, the ceremony normally takes places every few years when the King of Norway’s Guard come to Edinburgh for the Royal Military Tattoo at the Edinburgh International Festival. There will likely be another in a few years.
Brigadier Sir Nils Olav, history has its eyes on you. We look forward to seeing big things.