The (Amalgamated) Lancers Paying Homage

Located at Cambrai Barrack in Catterick is The Royal Lancers (Queen Elizabeths’ Own) of the British Army, a fairly new regiment, only being formed in 2015. Nonetheless, it was created via an amalgamation of several other Lancer regiments to include the 9th/12th Royal Lancers (Prince of Wales’s) and the Queen’s Royal Lancers, the latter of which had been formed by a 1993 amalgamation of the 16th/5th Lancers and the 17th/21st Lancers, carrying the history of those two regiments (which had also been amalgamated in 1960 and 1922, respectively). Hence, today’s Royal Lancers tend the history and lineage of no less than a half-dozen old Napoleanic and Crimean-era “pole cavalry” regiments.

The coolest of which, the 17th Lancers (Duke of Cambridge’s Own) (the original skull head “Death or Glory Boys”) has lingered on in the center of the unit’s cap badge and banners, along with the traditional black beret of the Tank Corps.

A battalion-strength unit, today’s Royal Lancers are built around four Sabre Squadrons (A, B, C, and D) with CVR(T) Scimitars (but are converting to Jackals) and Panthers to perform an armored scout/recon role in 1 Armoured Infantry Brigade.

The Royal Lancer’s daily driver, the CVR(T) Scimitar, includes light armor and a fearsome 30 mm L21 RARDEN cannon. A design that dates to the 1970s and saw combat in the Falklands and against Saddam, Scimitar is supposed to be retired by 2023 and the British are giving them away to the Ukrainians.

Of course, the Lancers are moving to the lighter and faster, but almost totally unarmed and unarmored, Jackal, but hey…

Still, with an amalgamated lineage that dates to 1759, the Lancers have a certain cavalry record to uphold.

They provide dismounted lance-wielding marching platoons for events such as the Queen’s Jubilee, the only unit authorized to do so.

And there are always Lancer wedding parties.

Note the red caps, a throwback to the lining of the old Lancer czapka of the 19th century

The officer’s dress mess uniform (augmented by the retiree-standard bowler hat and pinstriped suit with umbrella) is a throwback to Wellington. For reference, today’s RL’s mess dress tunic runs a paltry £2,285, showing that, while times may have changed since the old days, they haven’t changed all that much.

A contemporary Royal Lancer officer in mess dress flanked by the original constituent lancer regiments: from left to right: 17th, 9th, 16th, RL, 12th, 5th, and 21st Lancers. Note the czapkas on the legacy uniforms

This all brings us to this week where the Colonel of the Regiment, Commanding Officer, Padre, and other Lancer representatives traveled to Montreuil-Sur-Mer, France, for the unveiling of the renovated statue of the iron-hearted Field Marshal Douglas Haig, 1st Earl Haig, KT, GCB, OM, GCVO, KCIE, commander of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from 1915 to the end of the First World War.

Haig, born seven years after Balaclava, had commanded the 17th Lancers and was Colonel of the Regiment of the 17th/21st Lancers. His Lancer uniform is in the IWM.

“Soldiers from the Regiment conducted a Lance Guard for the unveiling ceremony and the church service afterward, performing admirably in ceremonial dress despite the extreme 34-degree heat!” noted the regiment.

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