The 1st or âGrenadierâ Regiment of Foot Guards was formed in Bruges in 1656 to protect King Charles II during his exile, and was to become the Kingâs Regiment of Foot Guards following the Restoration in 1660. On 29th July 1815 the London Gazette announced that âthe 1st Regiment is made a regiment of grenadiers in commemoration of their having defeated the grenadiers of the French Imperial Guardâ. As a result, the Regiment began wearing the bearskin cap, which had been a distinction of Grenadier companies.
Her Majesty The Queen has served the Regiment for close to eighty years, having been appointed as Colonel in 1942 and Colonel-in-Chief in 1952. The senior company of the 1st Battalion is known as âThe Queenâs (or Kingâs) Companyâ and has unique duties to the Monarch.
Although additional battalions were raised during the two world wars, the regiment normally had three battalions up to 1960 when the 3rd Battalion was suspended. Its traditions continue in the Inkerman Company of the 1st Battalion, named to commemorate the 3rd Battalionâs actions at the Battle of Inkerman during the Crimean War.
Nijmegen Company was formed in 1993 to similarly represent the 2nd Battalion and carry its colours. It is an independent company based at Wellington Barracks, primarily in a ceremonial role, and is named to commemorate the regimentâs action in 1944 during Operation Market Garden.
The Grenadier Guards have distinguished themselves at most of the major conflicts throughout its long history, most recently in Afghanistan, and its dual role has seen it at the heart of all the great ceremonial occasions that are televised around the globe. The regiment can be recognised on parade by the even spacing of the buttons on the tunic or greatcoat, a grenade on the collar and a white plume on the left of the bearskin.
The Regimentâs motto is âHoni soit qui mal y penseâÂ â This is Old French and approximately translates as âShame on him who thinks ill of itâ (or in other words âlet misfortune befall any enemy of the Crownâ)