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The Life Guards
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The Life GuardsWith a proud tradition of over three centuries of service as a Body Guard to the Sovereign, The Life Guards are the senior, though not the oldest, Regiment of the British Army. At the end of the Civil War, a number of Royalists followed Prince Charles (later King Charles II) into exile and in Holland, 80 of them were organized into a body of Life Guards, of whom 20 were always on duty to guard the Royal residence or escort Charles. By the time of the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, their number had increased to 600, organized into three troops - the King's Troop, The Duke of York's Troop and the Duke of Albemarle's Troop. A fourth troop was raised in Scotland soon after the Restoration. At this stage The Life Guards were known as The Horse Guards or Life Guard of Horse.

In 1678 a troop of Horse Grenadier Guards was formed, and a division of 'Mounted Grenadiers', containing 3 officers and 70 other ranks, was added to each cavalry troop. A 2nd or Scottish Troop of Horse Grenadiers was raised in 1702. In 1746, when the four-troop establishment of The Horse (or Life) Guards was reduced to two, the 1st and 2nd Troops of Horse Grenadier Guards were attached to each repectively.

In 1788 a major reorganization saw the 1st Troop of Horse Guards and the 1st Troop of Horse Grenadier Guards formed into the 1st Regiment of Life Guards, while the 2nd Troop became the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards. Known until then as 'Horse Guards' the new Regiments were now officially named Life Guards. This organization survived until 1922 when the two Regiments were amalgamated into The Life Guards.

The normal duties of The Guards after the Restoration were to find the guard for the Royal Palace at Whitehall and to provide an escort for the King. These duties of mounting the Sovereign's Life Guard and providing the Sovereign's Escort have remained to this day, the two principal functions of the mounted squadrons of the Household Cavalry.

The Life Guards have a distinguished fight¬ing record and have participated in many of the major battles and campaigns of the British Army. They first saw action at Maestricht in 1673 and played a major part in the defeat of the Duke of Monmouth's army at Sedgemoor in 1685. In the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 they fought against the former James II and at Landen in 1695 they fought under William III, meeting the French Household Cavalry for the first time. The War of Austrian Succession, Dettingen and Fontenoy followed, and all the Napoleonic Wars, culminating at Waterloo in 1815. In 1882 a composite Regiment of The Life Guards and The Blues took part in Wolseley's campaign in Egypt - one action was the famous 'Moonlight Charge' at Kassassin. The Life Guards fought in both World Wars, earning 28 Battle Honours in the First and 21 in the Secord. During the Second World War the Guards Armoured Division was formed in which the Household Cavalry saw service in North-West Europe.

The Household Cavalry Regiment is stationed in Combermere Barracks, Windsor, its permanent duty station, where they are equipped with armoured cars. The Household Cavalry Museum is also housed here.



The Life Guards

The Waterloo field bugle of the 1st Life Guards.


The Life Guards

2nd Life Guards in Mounted Review Order, с.1832. Watercolour by Edward Hull.


The Life Guards

Officer's Peninsula Helmet, 2nd Life Guards, 1812-14. The crest is of black horsehair.

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