The Household Cavalry is made up of The Life Guards, formed as the bodyguard of King Charles II while in exile on the continent, and The Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons). The Royal Horse Guards (The Blues) date back to 1650 as part of Cromwellâ€™s army, becoming the Royal Regiment of Horse after the restoration. While under the command of the Earl of Oxford, they adopted the blue livery and became known as the Oxford Blues. The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons) was formed in 1661 as the â€˜Tangier Horseâ€™ to provide garrison troops at the port which was part of the dowry of Queen Catherine of Braganza. â€˜The Bluesâ€™ amalgamated with â€˜The Royalsâ€™ in 1969.
Both regiments have a long and distinguished history of gallantry on the battlefield, originally on horseback. They converted to machine gun regiments during the first world war and have served as armoured regiments since the second world war, for much of the time alternating between operating with tanks in West Germany and armoured cars based at Windsor.
After the world war two a mounted squadron was formed from each regiment to be stationed at Hyde Park Barracks to carry out ceremonial duties, now known as the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment. These duties include the daily Queenâ€™s Life Guard which provides mounted and dismounted sentries at Horse Guards. The Household Cavalry also provide a Sovereignâ€™s Escort at major state occasions such as the State Opening of Parliament, State Visits and the Queenâ€™s Birthday Parade, as well as smaller escorts where appropriate.
In 1992 the regiments came together in a union as the Household Cavalry Regiment, whilst retaining their separate identities, with an armoured regiment now based at Bulford in Wiltshire. Officers and soldiers normally alternate between horses and horse-power to provide a varied career with the best of both worlds.
The Life Guards have red tunics, white plumes in the helmets and white sheepskins over the saddles. The Blues and Royals have blue tunics, red plumes and black sheepskins.