Today's fact: when officers of the regiment shut two small ponies in his bedroom for a joke, Colonel Frederick Burnaby, a hero of the regiment, reportedly carried them from his room, one under each arm. A veritable giant of a man, standing at 6ft 4in tall and weighing 20 stone, Burnaby was exceptionally strong and frequently worked out in a London gym, much to the bemusement of his fellow officers.
Burnaby's adventurous spirit, pioneering achievements, and swashbuckling courage earned an affection in the minds of Victorian imperial idealists. As well as travelling across Europe and Central Asia, he mastered the art of ballooning, spoke a number of foreign languages fluently, stood for parliament twice, published several books, and was admired and feted by the women of London High Society. His popularity was legendary, appearing in a number of stories and tales of empire.
Among the artefacts related to Burnaby kept in the Household Cavalry Museum, we have a winter dress frock coat of Burnaby's that demonstrates his proportions, Burnaby's book 'Ride to Khiva', detailing his unofficial spying mission to the Russian-controlled city of Khiva, Uzbekistan, in spite of a ban on all foreigners entering (a story that won him much acclaim in Victorian high society) and a dagger used at the Battle of Abu Klea, where Burnaby was killed fighting Mahdist forces, having re-joined his old regiment voluntarily, the War Office having denied him an official posting.
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