Tag Archives: Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment

Making like 1914

Recently seen in London, via the Ministry of Defence, HQ Household Troops:

In a series of stunning photos which could have been taken at the turn of the 20th century, the horses and riders of the Queen’s Birthday Parade showed off their movements and equestrian skills as they paraded around Horse Guards for their Mounted Review this morning.

Over 350 horses drawn from The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery conducted the same movements they will do at Trooping the Colour, just without those on foot to distract them (or the horses), to enable them to focus on the timings and commands required for the historic day.

In their khaki No.2 Service Dress, they looked like they could be off to the front lines of the First World War with the WWI-era QWF 13-pounder guns drawn by the King’s Troop just adding to the effect.

Save for the helmets, it could pass for the early 1900s. The men in the background are from the Blues and Royals. The Blues and Royals wear blue tunics while on ceremonial duties and metal helmets with red plumes. The Life Guards, seen in the foreground, wear scarlet tunics and white plumed helmets.

Almost like one of those old uniform plates, showing a variety of officers milling around posing for the artist. Note the Life Guards on the left, and Blues & Royals to the right. The Royal Horse Artillery is at the caissons and an assortment of guards officers, including two in bearskins, are in the center. 

All you are missing is a Kitchener poster

When is the last time you saw a full squadron’s worth of horse-mounted cavalry on parade, with four classic troops in formation? This evokes memories of the Sudan, the Crimea, or even Waterloo. Besides headquarters and training cadres, the Blues and Royals, taking up the rear as they are “younger” consist of a half-strength horse-mounted saber squadron that contains two “divisions” which are troop-sized (one subaltern and 24 troopers) while the more senior Life Guards have the same strength. Of course, as you see, the entire combined force is still just the size of a Great War-era squadron of four troops. All told, the force is termed the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR), authorized at 341 members and 250 horses. 

Livgarde and Livgardet in Reception

We’ve talked about the Swedish Livgardet and Danish Kongelige Livgarde a few different times over the years, as, well, they deserve it. Besides being historic frontline combat units with a long history, and their current dual-hatting as royal guards on public duties while training to fight if things go sideways, they just look great doing it.

Case in point, the Swedish Livgardet late last month fell in for a state reception for King Felipe VI of Spain, complete with their 6.5mm Carl Gustav-made Mausers and bearskin grenadiers helmets.

Likewise, the Danish Livgarde, complete with horse soldiers of the Gardehusarregiment, assembled for a state reception for new ambassadors to Copenhagen. Always nice to see the traditional hussar pelisse hanging over the shoulder of braided dolmans. Of note, the foot guards are in their scarlet gala tunics and bearskins rather than the more commonly seen black tunics. The red tunics are only for special occasions such as royal birthdays.

In other, related news, the British Army’s five regiments (actually just single battalions) of foot guards will continue to use bearskin grenadiers’ hats after testing found a synthetic replacement, proposed by animal rights wackos at PETA and urged on by Pam Anderson of all people, “didn’t meet the standards required.”

1st Battalion Irish Guards for a special St Patrick’s Day Parade today at their Barracks in Hounslow, 3.16.2017. MOD photo by Sgt. Rupert Frere.

Some 110 replacement ceremonial caps were purchased by the MOD in 2020 at a cost of £145,000, with the fur coming from Canada’s black bear cull surplus– in other words, pelts that would have been harvested regardless of the Guards. 

Some 14 nations still have bearskin caps in use for military dress uniforms, a practice picked up in most respects from Napoleon’s Old Guard. 

Grenadiers of Napoleon’s Imperial Guard, by Hippolyte Bellangé, 1843

Happy Saint George’s Day

Celebrated in England going as far back as the 7th Century or so, Saint George’s Day (April 23rd) is something of a holiday not only in Britain but also to a lesser degree in Canada and Australia.

Commemorating the famous dragon slayer, the British Army asked soldiers of the Rifles, Mercian Regiment and Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment how they would tackle such a fire-breather today, to which they responded with a .338 AI sniper rifle, 30mm Rarden cannon via FV510 Warrior IFV, and horse-mounted lance, respectively.

Nice to know the Queen still has the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals of the HCMR around if things get sticky.

Horse soldiers never die

A division of the Blues and Royals sabre squadron, part of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (All photos via MoD)

The British Army’s Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR) traces its lineage back to the 1660s– to King Charles II’s Life Guards and the Earl of Oxford’s Blues — and its horse-mounted unit, after the reforms of 1992, now consists of one 75-member sabre squadron plus a mounted band from each regiment of the Household Cavalry (the red tunic wearing Life Guards and the black tunic wearing Blues and Royals), each with their distinctive cuirass and plumed “Albert” helmet.

Life Guards in red, Blues and Royals in Black

Based at their Hyde Park Barracks, they are on “public duty” which consists of ceremonial operations around London and the royal estates to include state visits, Investitures, the opening of Parliment, etc. The standard unit is a 25-man mounted division, though this can be halved. All told, the force, with their H/HS complete with staff, vets, saddlers and farriers, amounts to about 350 officers, NCOs and troopers.

Last week they had their annual inspection by Major General Ben Bathurst, the General Officer Commanding the Army in London and the Queen’s Household Troops, but this one was different:

“For the first time in recent memory, the Regiment were joined by their cavalry cousins from the Swedish Livgardet and Danish Gardehusarregiment. The Swedish Life Guards and Danish Guard Hussar Regiment each fielded an officer and senior non-commissioned officer, dressed in their equivalent ceremonial uniforms, to ride in the parade.”