Between 1958 and 2007 there were nine Colonels of The Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. This is an appointment like no other since, subject only to the formal approval of HM The Queen, it is in the Regiment's own gift. It is a thus a singular honour to be chosen as the Regiment's titular head, entrusted with nurturing and representing the Regiment's best interests. The Colonel of the Regiment, initially appointed for a period of five years, which was exceptionally extended, stood apart from the chain of command. He was answerable only to the needs of the Regimental family in its widest sense. In the case of a County Regiment like the Devon and Dorsets, that entailed considerable involvement in the affairs and needs of the two Counties, from which they derive their name, their soldiers and their ethos. The Colonel of the Regiment also kept the Colonel-in-Chief abreast of Regimental developments.
Internally, the Colonel of the Regiment's role was vital. Ably assisted by Regimental Headquarters, he was responsible for the recruitment and selection of potential officers, the Regiment's seed-corn. He also assisted in the selection of future commanding officers from among those qualified for promotion and selected for possible appointment. At any one time the Regiment needed to groom for possible command at least seven officers of various ranks, ages and stages of career progression. The Colonel of the Regiment monitored the progress of these officers, in order to ensure the widest possible choice when the final decisions were taken. In this context, it is noteworthy that the Regiment has never had to import a commanding officer and has exported some six to other regiments. Indeed, the Colonels of the Regiment themselves were always been 'home-grown'.
As Chairman of the Trustees of the Regiment's various funds, assets, chapels, museums and property, the Colonel of the Regiment had an onerous responsibility for the history and traditions of the Regiment and the well-being of all members past and present, including former Devons and former Dorsets. For example, in the lengthy and complex negotiations that preceded the formation of The Rifles, the Colonel of the Regiment played a key role in representing the interests of The Regiment. In conclusion the Colonel of the Regimental can best be described as the head of the family: chosen by the Regiment, for the Regiment.