On a hundred battlefields, Britain's storied Grenadier Guards have shown their martial mettle. But in today's hot economy, many young men are showing a marked preference for careers in engineering or even accountancy over the Guards' traditional promise of death or glory. Which explains, sort of, why Lance Sgt. Ian Edwards of the Guards' First Battalion is belting out the Beatles' "Can't Buy Me Love" to a lunchtime crowd. To boost sagging recruitment, the Grenadiers have gone karaoke.
"He does a good Dean Martin, and his Elvis is particularly good," says Edwards's commanding officer Maj. Stephen Tuck. "We want to show people that we have fun; it's not all about killing people."
For Edwards, 34, crooning for Queen and country is a dream assignment. "Acting and singing have always been something I loved," he says. After joining the Grenadiers at 22, Edwards served in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Germany and, in the most prime of all Grenadier posts, outside Buckingham Palace. That's where he was discovered by Major Tuck. "He was the deejay in the regimental disco," says Tuck. "We found out he could sing, and we took him for recruiting."
That means Edwards, married with three daughters, no longer plays the palace. Instead he tours Britain, seeking to draw the attention of young men like Guardsman Austin Toon, 18, who joined up in 1998 after catching Edwards's act. "To see a singer in the army," says Toon, "really appealed to me."
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