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The Bands
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The Bands

On all the major State occasions, notably The Queen's Birthday Parade, or Trooping the Colour, the massed bands of The Household Cavalry and the Foot Guards hold centre stage. The two Household Cavalry bands encapsulate all that is most splendid in State ceremonial occasions, dressed in magnificent embroidered gold coats, blue velvet jockey caps and thigh-length riding boots (jack boots), and mounted on black horses. This is the oldest ceremonial uniform in the regular army, only worn in the presence of the Royal Family and the Lord Mayor of London.

The Bands

Trumpeters 'grey ' horses on parade.

The Life Guards and The Blues and Royals each have bands of 35 musicians led by a Director of Music. The two bands, mounted or dismounted, play their music for all state ceremonial events and for many other military and civic events. Both bands also provide trumpeters to blow fanfares on their silver, valveless 'E flat' trumpets at engagements such as the State Opening of Parliament and banquets for visiting heads of State.

The Bands

Kettle drummer with the silver drums presented to The Blues by George III in 1804.

Drums and trumpets have been used in battle from time immemorial. The Household Cavalry bands originated in 1660 when, during King Charles II's triumphant entry into London, The Life Guards were led by kettle drummers and trumpeters. Trumpeters' duties included conveying routine messages and audibly transmitting orders in camp and on the battlefield. There were over 80 calls covering every aspect of a soldier's life from getting up (reveille) to going to bed (last post), including musical announcements such as post call (arrival of the mail) and mess call (time to eat). The trumpet on which the order to charge was given at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 can be seen in the museum.

The Bands

Trumpeters at Guildhall.

Today's bandsmen are all highly trained musicians who are often able to play two instruments or more each, a very necessary attribute - as well as for the major public occasions, they make up marching bands, dance bands, brass quintets and pop or rock groups as required. They also furnish small chamber orchestras for investitures in Buckingham Palace. A vital role is to deploy overseas to where Household Cavalry soldiers are serving. During the First World War, the Royal Horse Guards band frequently visited France and Flanders, reviving the spirits of the many Blues serving in the trenches. More recently, The Blues and Royals band visited The Household Cavalry Regiment in Bosnia. Beyond music, bandsmen and women have further operational tasks including being medical assistants and chemical and biological warfare decontamination operatives.

The Bands

The HCMR preceded by the band of The Blues and Royals at the Garter Service.

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