In Collaboration With Charles Griffin

Leaving the Barracks
This regiment, despite its Royal connections, actually started life as a Parliamentarian Cavalry Regiment under an officer named Unton Crook. The fall of the Commonwealth in 1660 saw this regiment pledge its allegiance to the newly restored Charles II. At first, the King was keen to keep this regiment together with its new Royalist commanding officer, Daniel O'Neal. However, the new parliament, with memories of the bloody Civil War fresh in its mind, refused to sanction payments for any standing armies. This could have been the end of the regiment had it not been for an abortive rising in 1661. The attempt of the 'Fifth Monarchy' to overthrow the monarchy gave the King the perfect excuse to re-raise a number of regiments in order to protect himself. The Royal Regiment of Horse joined the Lifeguards, the Grenadier Guards and the Coldstream Guards as all being raised specifically to protect the Royal Household from any threat, internally or externally.

During their parliamentarian days, the regiment wore dark blue coats. When the regiment was re-raised in 1661, the Colonel was the Earl of Oxford, Aubrey de Vere, whose own personal livery was also blue. The regiment therefore quickly took on the nickname of 'The blues' that still partially lives on to the present day.

Divided Loyalties
In 1685, King Charles II died and was replaced by King James II. That same year, the bastard son of King Charles II, the Duke of Monmouth, attempted to lead a protestant uprising against James II. At this point in time, King James' Catholic sympathies were suspected by many but not yet proven to the general populace. The blues were therefore happy to carry out their obligations of defending the crown and it was at the battle of Sedgemoor that the regiment first saw action. Indeed, it was a blues patrol that first sounded the alarm of Monmouth's night time approach towards the Royalist camp. In the ensuing battle, the blues joined a charge at a critical juncture of the battle that overwhelmed the rebel artillery. The blues therefore helped to maintain the monarchy in what were becoming increasingly complicated times. Three years later, they would not be so forgiving.

In the intervening three years, James II demonstrated that his sympathies really did lie with Catholicism. He therefore found himself a Catholic King in charge of a Protestant country. Thus, when William of Orange landed in Britain with an army of mercenaries at the behest of local politicians, it was clear that James II had seriously misjudged the mood of his kingdom. People flocked to the support of the Protestant William before he even had to fight any battles. King James II fled to France. The Blues remained in London to support the new Protestant King. Their job may have been to protect the King, but they remained loyal to their religion before their King. The regiment joined William in his campaigns to rid James II from Ireland in 1688 after the exiled King attempted to make a return to the British throne. The regiment fought at the Battle of Boyne in 1690.

The Eighteenth Century

The regiment spent most of the early Eighteenth Century guarding the monarchs in London. It was the war of Austrian Succession that brought the regiment back in to action. This was particularly the case as King George II actually headed the army himself. At the battle of Dettingen the regiment had mixed fortunes when they were disrupted and forced to retreat by recoiling cavalrymen of the Ligonier Horse who bounced off a French formation. In the ensuing confusion, the Blues were forced to retreat through their own infanty, causing yet more confusion. The regiment managed to reform and helped to subdue the elite French Household cavalry, the Maison du Roy. The Blues also took part in the battle of Fontenoy as part of the Household Cavalry Division.

In the Seven Years War (1756 - 1763), the regiment picked up one of its more unusual customs at the battle of Warburg (1760). The Blues are one of the only regiment that allows saluting by all ranks even when they are not wearing any headdress. The reason for this comes from a charge made during the battle of Warburg, when the Colonel, Marquis of Granby, lost his wig whilst charging in to battle and yet still managing to salute the Commander-in-Chief as the charge rammed home. The battle was an outstanding success for The Blues, and a new tradition was borne by the bald headed Colonel.

On return to Britain, the Blues built the Army's first riding school at Northampton. The regiment remained here until the Cavalry Barracks at Windsor had been completed and was ready for occupation in 1804.

The Napoleonic Wars

It wasn't until 1812 that The Blues were called to serve Wellington in his Peninsular campaign. They quickly saw action at the battles of Salamanca and Vittoria amongst many other countless smaller actions. One new colonel to join the regiment was Wellington himself in 1813. At the time Guards men were only obligated to salute their own officers - they did not salute any other regiments' officers. Wellington seems to have been tickled pink when he received his first salutes from his new regiment. He commented "Thank God, I've got a present out of the Guards at last!"

During the battle of Waterloo, Wellington's regiment was brigaded with the Life Guards and the 1st King's Dragoon Guards. They took part, together with the Union brigade, in the massive extended line charge against the French. It was a very effective operation which threw out of the way the French curarriers advancing in support of d'Erlon's left and crashed into the left and rear of the Left-hand French division. Halting the French advance. The Household brigade also had the sense to limit their advances, unlike the Union Brigade, which paid dearly for its overenthusiasm.

The Victorian Era.
Regent's Park Barracks

For most of the Nineteenth Century, The Blues returned to their ceremonial duties in London. However, the lack of an effective police force in Britain saw the regiment deployed on a number of occasions to pacify the local populace and maintain public order. In 1848, for example, revolutions throughout Europe seriously concerned the British authorities. So, when Chartist meetings got out of hand and turned in to riots, The Blues were called in to deal with the troublemakers. They were similarly employed in 1866 during demonstrations by the Reform Movement.

Generally, the Nineteenth Century was a quiet period for The Blues. They were officially upgraded to Household Cavalry status with all the extra ceremonial duties that that entailed and were renamed in 1875 as the Royal Horse Guards.

The Blues
The Oxford Blues
The Blue Guards
The Tasty Blues
Honi soit qui mal y pense
Evil be to him who evil thinks
Regimental Marches
The Royal Horse Guards March (Quick)
March of the Priests (Quick)
Regimental Anniversary
Waterloo Day 18th June
1685 - 1875
Lieutenant Colonels
1685 - 1875
1685 - 1875
1685 - 1875
1685 - 1875
Pouches and Pouchbelts
1685 - 1875
Principal Campaigns and Battles
Napoleonic and Revolutionary Wars
Successor Units
The Royal Horse Guards (Blues)
(1875 - 1969)
The Blues and Royals
(1969 - )
Suggested Reading
The Story of the Blues and Royals
by J N P Watson (Leo Cooper: 1993)

The Royal Horse Guards
by Sir George Arthur (Leo Cooper: 1969)

His Majesty's Royal Regiment of Horse Guards
(Gale & Polden: 1929)

An Historical Record of Horse Guards, or Oxford Blues
by Edmund Packe (London: Clowes: 1834)

History of the Household Cavalry
by Sir George Arthur (Constable: 1909, 1926: 3 vols)

Regimental Museum
Household Cavalry Museum
Combermere Barracks

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by Stephen Luscombe