Household Cavalry soldiers serve alternately between the mounted ceremonial and armoured cavalry, in Hyde Park Barracks in Knightsbridge and Ward Barracks in Bulford having joined the Life Guards or the Blues and Royals.
The Life Guards
While in exile abroad, King Charles II selected members from his former royalist soldiers for his bodyguard in Flanders. These men were loyal cavaliers who had smuggled the young King out of England after the death of King Charles I at the hands of Oliver Cromwell. These men were the core of the regiment that was established as The Life Guards on his restoration in 1660 and based at Horse Guards. In fact, Life Guards have been at Horse Guards ever since, providing the King or Queenâ€™s Life Guard guarding the entrance to the Court. The Life Guards are the senior regiment of the British Army and wear red tunics with white plumes.
The Blues and Royal during the Queen's Birthday Parade 2019
The Blues and Royals
In 1661, King Charles II reformed the Regiment of Horse (originally created under Cromwell) as the Royal Regiment of Horse under the Earl of Oxford, whose livery was blue. Thereafter it became known as the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), owing to the colour of their tunics. Also in 1661, The King raised a third cavalry regiment, The Tangier Horse, to guard the North African town gifted to the Crown. It was subsequently renamed The Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons). In 1969, the two Regiments merged to form The Blues and Royals. The Blues and Royals wear dark blue tunics with red plumes.
Household Cavalry Regiment
The immaculate display exhibited today reflects exhaustive rehearsing, often on the deserted streets of a nocturnal London, as well as tireless and meticulous preparation of the dress and equipment of soldiers and horses. Every soldier on parade is first and foremost a reconnaissance soldier, and the medals of many of the soldiers pay tribute to their share in recent military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. The soldiers of the Household Cavalry are dual-trained, making them extremely agile and versatile, both in representing the Crown at home and in meeting their adversaries on the battlefield.
Since the 2019 Queenâ€™s Birthday Parade, the HCMR has been busy representing the country on Defence Engagement tasks in Morocco, Sweden, Denmark, Nepal, Netherlands and Canada, as well as providing the Sovereignâ€™s Escort for the October 2019 State Opening of Parliament and competing in Army winter sports events in Austria and Switzerland. When the pandemic hit in early 2020, all 240 horses were sent for a long and unexpected holiday in Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire whilst the soldiers were deployed as part of Op RESCRIPT which was the military support to the civil authorityâ€™s COVID-19 response. Soldiers were trained in running Mobile Testing Units and were deployed across London on a daily basis.
Whilst the HCMR is based in London carrying out State Ceremonial and Public Duties HCR is based on the edge of the British Armyâ€™s training estate on Salisbury Plain, fulfilling its primary warfighting role as an armoured reconnaissance unit. Operating in mobile armoured vehicles ahead of the main advance, soldiers of the HCR are expected to report back battle winning information and set the conditions for victory.
The Household Cavalry Regiment are converting from CVR(T)
onto the British Army's flagship new armoured fighting vehicles,
ARES and AJAX.Â
The HCR is the lead regiment in the development of the British Armyâ€™s STRIKE capability and is kept busy trialling new tactics and doctrine both at home and abroad. In addition to their primary role, the HCR provide specialist support and training to our allies. Recently they have been deployed on operations in Eastern Europe supporting NATO and our European allies as well as forming part of British Army Training Teams in Bosnia and Uganda. Here in the UK, they have also been supporting the civil authorityâ€™s response to COVID-19. Despite a challenging year, the HCR has exploited several unique training opportunities in Gibraltar, Kenya and the USA, whilst at home they are focussed converting onto the British Armyâ€™s flagship new armoured fighting vehicle, the AJAX.
The Household Cavalry recruits from the best and brightest nationally. Varied and unique opportunities to train and mentor our soldiers develops skills and experience that few other regiments can provide. Our soldiers serve with both the armoured and ceremonial sides of the regiment, proving their versatility. Whether preparing for a parade on the busy streets of London or deploying in an AJAX in any number of challenging and exciting environments, their training, discipline, and dedication equip them with the unique skillset required to succeed in the most demanding and hostile situations.
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery
The Kingâ€™s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, or the Troop as it is affectionately known by its members, are Her Majestyâ€™s official saluting Battery with close ties to the Royal Family having been formed in 1946 by King George VI himself. They boast one of the most diverse workforces in the British Army and are self-sufficient, training their own Farriers, Saddlers and Tailors through Army and Civilian apprenticeship schemes.
Alongside their ceremonial commitments, The Troop continues to train and deliver UK Contingency Operations in addition to supporting both UK and International deployments. Over the last few years personnel from The Troop have deployed to The Falklands in support of the Welsh Guards and supported Special Forces exercises in the UK. For the remainder of this year The Troop is looking forward to mounting duties of The Queenâ€™s Life Guard during the summer and preparing for what promises to be a very exciting Jubilee year in 2022.
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery parades down the Mall during Remembrance Day 2020.
The Troop is also heavily involved with Army Sport and providing training opportunities for its soldiers through Adventurous Training and Leadership Development Courses. The Troop has personnel who compete for the Army Water-skiing team, Army Equitation Team, National Hunt racing and Military Golf tournaments.
The Kingâ€™s Troop Royal Horse Artillery takes tremendous pride in its history and traditions and recruits nationally to ensure it attracts the best talent.
1st Battalion Grenadier Guards
1st Battalion Grenadier Guards has had an incredibly diverse and, in many ways, unique two years since they last trooped their colour at the 2019 Queenâ€™s Birthday Parade. In August of that year, the Battalion deployed on a two-month jungle exercise to Belize. For the vast majority, this was their first experience of the extremely demanding and austere conditions that jungle training offers. Whilst not only presenting the chance to experience a new country and environment, it also proved to be a first-rate training opportunity.
In the following eighteen months, the Battalion has maintained a constant presence in the Falkland Islands. This rotational deployment has seen a company of 120 soldiers deployed to the British Forces South Atlantic Islands as the primary British infantry deterrent in the region. In addition to the exceptional live firing ranges, the Falkland Islands offer the ability for Guardsmen to visit major battlefield sites, such as Mount Tumbledown, to engage with the local population on routine patrols and see much of the spectacular indigenous wildlife.
A Section Commander delivers Quick Battle Orders during jungle warfare training in Belize
The response to the COVID-19 pandemic proved to be the primary focus of the Battalion in the summer of 2020. In support of Joint Military Command in London, as well as local councils and the NHS, the Battalion deployed multiple Mobile Testing Units across the capital. The unanticipated opportunity to play a leading role in the nationâ€™s COVID-19 response was a great honour for the Battalion, with the most junior Guardsmen being at the forefront of responding to the nationâ€™s call.
The Battalionâ€™s immediate future will prove no less diverse, with deployment on exercises to Kenya and Thailand planned in autumn this year. Looking beyond to 2022, the Battalion will return to the Middle East to assume responsibility in training and advising the Iraqi Security Forces. It will take on this role from 1st Battalion Welsh Guards. The Battalion has served in the region previously; most recently in 2018 where it filled a similar advisory role.
1st BattalionÂ Coldstream Guards
1st Battalion Coldstream Guards is a light role infantry battalion with a remarkable record of service in every major conflict over the course of its 371-year history. Excellence both on operations and in undertaking state ceremonial duties is at the very heart of the Regimentâ€™s ethos. Every day, Coldstreamers live up to the proud reputation of being â€˜Second to Noneâ€™.
Over the past 12 months, Coldstreamers have deployed to Iraq, Kuwait, Cyprus and have provided Military Assistance to UK Civilian Authorities to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst deployed to Iraq, Number One Company were responsible for the force protection of British troops based at Erbil. Members of Number Three Company were deployed to Cyprus to facilitate the reception centre for all troops transiting between the UK and the Middle East. Personnel from HQ Company were also deployed to Baghdad and Kuwait in a variety of roles in support of Operations in Iraq. Coldstreamers were mobilised on Operation RESCRIPT at short notice last year to assist the National Health Service, Department of Health and Social Care and local authorities with COVID-19 testing in Liverpool and Manchester.
Guardsman Heath and Lance Corporal Oxley about to board a Black Hawk Helicopter, South East Kurdistan, August 2020
This year, the Battalion are continuing with further support in the fight against COVID-19, whilst undertaking a rigorous training year to hone their combat skills, culminating with deployment to the Falkland Islands. Returning to London District in February has seen rehearsals, uniform fittings and ceremonial training becoming an important part of their daily routine. The culmination of this preparatory period led to the Major Generalâ€™s Inspection in April, after which the Battalion mounted their first Queenâ€™s Guard since 2019.
1st Battalion Coldstream Guards meets an ever-evolving range of challenges and opportunities with a modern, forward-thinking and professional ethos that is focused on inculcating and maintaining the very highest standards in everything they do. This is supported by a rich history, proud traditions and the strong bonds of this close-knit Regiment family. Nulli Secundus.
1st BattalionÂ Scots Guards
Not only is 1st Battalion Scots Guards the only Foot Guards Battalion that is permanently part of the British Armyâ€™s Armoured (Warfighting) Division but members of the Battalion are currently deployed in support of operations in Iraq, the Balkans and supporting part of NATOâ€™s enhanced forward presence in Poland. Other overseas deployments in the past year have seen soldiers train members of the Ukrainian Armed Forces and seen others retrace the footsteps of their forebearers who fought on Mount Tumbledown while serving in the Falkland Islands.
Closer to home, the Battalion has played its part in the national response to the Coronavirus pandemic by reconditioning a hospital on the Isle of Wight, manning multiple COVID-19 testing teams and providing planning and liaison officers in support of local government and departments. As you read this, 20 novice climbers are attempting to summit Mount Denali in Alaska (the coldest mountain on earth) and a little later this year the Battalion will head off to the Belizean jungle to hone its jungle warfare skills and provide an arena for our junior leaders to flourish.
Â Right Flank on top of Mount Korek, Northern Iraq
Looking a little further ahead, the future looks particularly exciting for the Scots Guards. Firstly, by the end of the summer, the Battalion will have moved its home back to Catterick from Aldershot, thus moving far closer to its natural recruiting grounds of Scotland and the North of England while also ensuring that its soldiers are closer to their family roots. Secondly, the Battalion has been designated to be one of the first units to receive the new state-of-the-art Boxer mechanised infantry vehicles. This privileged new role will place the Scots Guards at the very vanguard of a modernised British Army.
1st BattalionÂ Irish Guards
1st Battalion Irish Guards is a light-role infantry unit with an illustrious fighting history. The Micks, as the Regiment is affectionately known, are a spirited conglomerate of British, Irish, Commonwealth and overseas soldiers. The Battalion is currently in the process of moving to its new home in Mons Barracks, Aldershot.
Recent years have seen Irish Guardsmen serving across the world. 2020 began with the bulk of the Battalion deployed to Iraq, on a training mission in support of the Iraqi Security Forces. Whilst in Iraq, political tensions soared, and the Irish Guards Battlegroup witnessed an Iranian ballistic-missile attack and multiple rocket attacks. At the same time, Number 1 Company deployed as part of a task force providing engineering support to the United Nations Mission to South Sudan.
The Irish Guards deployed to Iraq with Foxhound vehicles
Upon returning from Iraq and South Sudan, the Irish Guards switched their efforts to fighting Covid-19. Throughout the second half of 2020 and into 2021, the Battalion delivered Covid testing across the southeast of England, in Liverpool and in Manchester. More recently, the Battalion has supported anti-poaching operations in Zambia and a company-level deployment to the Falkland Islands.
Looking ahead, in September the Irish Guards will travel to Louisiana, USA, to participate in a joint exercise with the 101st US Airborne Division. Following this exercise, the Battalion will conduct a worldwide adventurous training package. Expeditions will include skiing, sailing, mountain climbing, parachuting. Itâ€™s a great time to be a Mick!
1st BattalionÂ Welsh Guards
1st Battalion Welsh Guards are currently based in Combermere Barracks in Windsor where they took over from the Household Cavalry in 2019. They have recently resubordinated to 11 Infantry Brigade, bringing their two years of State Ceremonial Public Duties to a close. The past year, as for many in the Household Division, has been dominated by the implications of the pandemic. In June 2020, the Welsh Guards performed the Trooping of the Colour at Windsor Castle in a unique event due to the restrictions of the national lockdown. The Welsh Guards contributed to Operation RESCRIPT â€“ the military component of the Governmentâ€™s response to the virus â€“ by manning Mobile Testing Units across the London area. This was a task that required a great degree of professionalism in the face of enormous public scrutiny. Confidence amongst the most junior members of the Battalion was key, and it was a proud achievement for Guardsmen as young as 17 and 18 to have managed members of the public in a calm and assured manner in contribution to a national effort, demonstrating all the best traits of the Household Division. The Prince of Walesâ€™s Company was even required to deploy on Christmas day in 2020 to deliver mass testing and welfare to over 4,000 stranded lorry drivers in the Dover area. The Battalion also conducted a battlecamp in Otterburn Training Area in Northumberland, where they were able to put their green soldiering to the test.
A Welsh Guardsman delivers a COVID test at a Mobile Testing Unit at the height of the pandemic in 2020
Putting its bearskins to one side for the time being, the Battalion is now busily engaged in preparations for its next operational tour to Iraq this year. This has involved demanding evaluation exercises that put the Battalion through its paces as well as a variety of training delivered in-house. As well as this, the Battalion has had deployments to the Falkland Islands, Nigeria and Kenya in a broad range of opportunities overseas. The Battalion continues to prioritise its sporting life, particularly in boxing and rugby.