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The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery are temporarily replacing the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment as the Queen’s Life Guard, allowing the Cavalry time off to attend their Summer Camp.King of Queens as The King’s Troop step up for duty07 July 2021 17:20Susan Coulthard

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The King’s Troop ride down the Mall from Knightsbridge Barracks

King of Queens is a winning hand in poker and temporarily replacing the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment with The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, is proving a very safe bet. The saluting battery of Her Majesty’s Household Troops is doing a great job in their new role as the Queen’s Life Guard at Horse Guards.

Mounted guards have held the ground at Horse Guards for more than 350 years, providing protection at the official entrance of the Royal Palaces in Whitehall. This loyal, unbroken service is predominantly carried out by the Household Cavalry, but annually they get a month-long break and handover to the mounted Gunners.

It’s a very special duty as it’s not our day to day job. I’ve done almost every role in the King’s Troop so far and this is one of the last ones which I’ve been looking forward to doing. It feels like a step back to normality. We’ve started to see people stopping and taking photos as we’re not the traditional Household Cavalry on display.

SERGEANT JENKS, GUARD COMMANDER FOR THE KING’S TROOP ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY, QUEEN’S LIFE GUARD

The change in personnel allows the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment to leave London for enhanced military training and gives their Woolwich based colleagues the opportunity to take on new responsibilities, working closely with the police and prove themselves as trusted leaders, masters of reconnaissance.

They didn’t get to do the role last year because all the horses were sent to grass during lockdown, so everyone is very excited to be back in Whitehall again.

Gunner Joseph, is a Mounted Gunner and said: “This is my first time on Guard duty at Horse Guards and it means a great amount to me…it’s an honour, and so far has been something I have enjoyed thoroughly”.

The change of unit on guard means that the historic state helmets and glistening silver breastplate of the Cavalry have been temporarily replaced by the iconic full-dress jacket and busby of The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery.

The imposing black cavalry chargers have gone to grass for a well-deserved rest. They are replaced by the tough, smaller, Irish draught horses, who are more used to the high intensity graft of pulling one-ton Field Gun carriages than standing gleaming in mounted sentry boxes.

Importantly, it allows the soldiers to experience how another part of the Army operates, expanding their skillset and empathy; adaptation is a vital component of our future soldiers.

I have now ‘stagged on’ (done guard duty) in every possible location you can do guard duty and so this is a huge honour to be able to say I have done all of them. It makes a great change from what we normally do in the Royal Horse Artillery, our normal role is fast and with a lot of heavy lifting, so it makes a great change to be busy, but not manic, like we normally are.

GUNNER ENGLAND, KING’S TROOP ROYAL HORSE ARTILLERY

One soldier for whom adapting to change is more familiar than most is Gunner England. He transferred to the Royal Artillery from the Foot Guards so doing mounted Queen’s Life Guard duties means he will now have guarded every location in London, in every role!

If restrictions are lifted after the 19 July The King’s Troop could be among the first units to return to full ceremonial since the pandemic struck back in Spring 2020, and that will mean even more to the former Guardsman: “It would be great to do the first full Queen’s Life Guard after the pandemic, especially as it means we will beat the Household Cavalry to it!” That really would make a real Royal Flush!

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© Crown Copyright 2021
Special Thanks to: Susan Coulthard

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