So It Begins…

Today is a significant day in the Household Cavalry’s calendar, for today sees the beginning of a month’s worth of rehearsals for the celebration of the Queen’s official birthday (more commonly known as Trooping the Colour). The soldiers of the Household Division have just over a month to prepare themselves for the role they’ll play in the pageantry and spectacle you may see on Saturday 17th June this year.

Although Her Majesty The Queen’s actual birthday is April 21st, her ‘official birthday’ is marked by Trooping the Colour, a ceremony which is always held in June. This was a tradition begun by Her Majesty’s great-grandfather, King Edward VII, who elected to set it in June to compensate for the vagaries of British weather, particularly given that his own birthday was in November! However, the history of Trooping the Colour is much older; on the battlefield, the principal purpose of a regiment’s Colours was to provide a rallying point in the chaos of battle. Given how easy it was for troops to become disoriented and separated from their unit during conflict, it was the habit to have the colours of the Regiment displayed for the troops so they could familiarise themselves with the colours. This was done by having young officers march in between the ranks of troops formed up in lines with the Colours held high. So, what today is a great tradition began life as a vital and practical parade designed to aid unit recognition before a battle began.

The Trooping of the Colour has been a tradition of the Royal family since 1748, becoming an annual event since 1820 (barring exceptional circumstances). The Queen has attended Trooping the Colour in every year of her reign, except when prevented by a rail strike in 1955. Formerly mounted herself, typically on the back of Burmese, a black horse gifted to Her Majesty by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police when they came to perform at the 1969 Windsor Horse Show, she began riding in a carriage in 1987.

During the ceremony, The Queen is greeted by a Royal salute and carries out an inspection of the troops. After the massed bands have performed a musical ‘troop’, the escorted Regimental Colour is carried down the ranks. The Foot Guards and the Household Cavalry then march past Her Majesty, and The King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, rank past.The Queen rides in a carriage back to Buckingham Palace at the head of her Guards, before taking the salute at the Palace from a dais. The troops then return to barracks and Her Majesty then joins other members of the Royal Family on the palace balcony for a fly-past by the Royal Air Force.

If you happen to be in the vicinity of Horse Guards Parade over the coming weeks, you may be able to catch a view of the guards practising on the parade ground if you watch from within St. James’s Park, which should give you a glimpse into the workings of the Household Division and a closeup look at their ceremonial duties here in London.


©MOD 2013

Merry Christmas to you from all at The Household Cavalry Museum!

Merry Christmas to you from all at The Household Cavalry Museum!

On this special day, we thought we would share with you an image from our archive.

This image, 100 years on from when it was taken, shows the guards enjoying their Christmas at Knightsbridge Barracks during the First World War.

We would like to take this moment to thank you all for all of your support throughout the year.

As we look forward into 2017, there are lots of exciting things ahead for the museum. It is our 10th Anniversary next year since we have been open so please look out for our event series launching in the New Year. Best wishes to you all.


Merry Christmas to you from all at The Household Cavalry Museum!

Meet Oxford!

Meet Oxford! At 17.3 hands, he is one of the tallest horses in the regiment.

While the other horses are away to grass, the rest of them will still be working hard throughout the Christmas period.

The Household Cavalry mount guard at Horse Guards 365 days of the year, even on Christmas Day! So spare a thought for the soldiers and horses while you are enjoying the festive season.

The museum is closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & Boxing Day reopening on the 27th December!
#christmas #cavalry #horses #horsesofinstagram #horseguards



Colonel Frederick Burnaby

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.

Colonel Frederick Burnaby

Charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava

Today’s fact: In 1854, the Royals were the first British regiment to deploy abroad as part of a joint Anglo-French army that journeyed to the Crimea in support of the Ottoman Empire in its war with the Russians. The Royals achieved military success in a display of what cavalry were capable of at the Battle of Balaclava where, in the engagement known as the ‘Charge of the Heavy Brigade’, a force of 800 British cavalry, with the Royals at their heart, routed a force of 3000 Russian light horseman in an engagement that lasted barely eight minutes. Unfortunately, this triumph has been somewhat overshadowed by the disaster at the same battle which was the Charge of the Light Brigade.

The image below is a reproduction of a watercolour depicting the Charge of the Heavy Brigade at Balaclava.

Image belongs to the National Army Museum.

Portable Altar

In concluding our theme of remembrance and sacrifice over the previous week, today we show from the Museum’s ‘Sacrifice’ cabinet this portable altar which, along with the items atop it (Communion cup, wine vessel, wafer box, altar cross, Bible and priest’s stole) were used by the Reverend R.K. Haines to conduct services in the trenches between 1916-1918.

In a letter written to his wife in late 1918, Reverend Haines related that he performed two Masses in the trenches on Christmas morning 1918 in a portion of the trenches that only allowed for 25 men in attendence at a time. The Reverend also remarked on how unusual he found to stare out at the expanse of land between the trenches and not hear a single shot fired. (Although the war officially ended with the signing of the armstice on November 11th 1918, due to the large numbers of troops that had to be demobilised following the war’s end, many soldiers did not return home until 1919).

portable altar

We will remember them

‘They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them’.- Laurence Binyon

We will remember them.

Death medal of 2nd Lieutenant Howard Avenel Bligh St George

From our ‘Sacrifice’ cabinet, today we show you the death medal of 2nd Lieutenant Howard Avenel Bligh St George of the 1st Life Guards. He died on Sunday 15th November 1914, just one month after his arrival at the Front, killed while assaulting a German position, aged only 19. Also on display is a framed newspaper clipping taken from the announcement of his death (kept, we believe, by a member of his family) as well as a memorial poppy (this particular poppy was one of the first to be used as a tribute to a fallen soldier).


Death Medal

©L. Courtney 2016

On display in our ‘Sacrifice’ cabinet

On display in our ‘Sacrifice’ cabinet, this French dictionary, pocket book and cigarette case proved instrumental in saving the life of Corporal of Horse Buckby of the Blues during the First World War. At 14.30 pm on the afternoon of May 13th,1915, the Blues and the Royals made a successful bayonet charge against German positions on Frezenberg Ridge. During the fighting, Buckley was hit by a sniper’s bullet that penetrated straight through the cigarette case, pocket book and a few pages of his French dictionary before being stopped.


©L.Courtney 2017

Remembrance Sunday

As we approach Remembrance Sunday, we should remember that it commemorates all servicemen who have died in conflicts across the world to ‘secure and protect our freedoms’. In recognition of that, today we show the helmet of Trooper Simon Tipper, one of four men of the Blues and Royals (Lieutenant Anthony Daly, Staff Corporal Roy Bright and Lance Corporal Jeffrey Young) who died on July 20th 1982 when the IRA detonated a car bomb in Hyde Park at 10.40am while they were en route to the Changing of the Guard here at Horse Guards. In our ‘Sacrifice’ cabinet here at the Museum, we have a number of artefacts that commemorate this tragedy, including a letter of condolence from the Queen Mother to Andrew Parker Bowles, Lieutenant Colonel of the Household Cavalry at the time, and the hoof and bridle of the horse Sefton, whose survival and near-miraculous recovery from injuries sustained in the bombing made him a national symbol.

©L.Courtney 2016