Nils Olav received a promotion on Wednesday to Colonel in Chief of the Royal Norwegian Guard. Yes, this high rank in the Norwegian military has in fact been bestowed on a penguin.
In 1962 young lieutenant in the Royal Norwegian Guard Niels Egelien visited Edinburgh Zoo and was quite taken with the penguins. On a return visit in 1972, he arranged for his regiment to sponsor a king penguin which they adopted and awarded the rank of Lance Corporal. The name was chosen on behalf of the lieutenant who first got excited about the penguins and the then king of Norway, King Olav. Since then, every time the soldiers have come to visit, Nils Olav has received a promotion.
According to Scotland Today:
Major Nils Egelien from the Norwegian Royal Guard Association said: “Colonel in chief because all the reports speak about his very, very good behaviour, and the service in this garden.” … Nils Olav is now back in with the rest of the troops. It is not known when this elite fighting force will be deployed again, but when they are, it is fair to say that the best possible penguin is in charge.