The London Regiment was formed on 1 August 1993. It was created from Headquarters Company and the four rifle companies of the extant London Regiment, formed in 1993 as part of the Ministry of Defence's "Options for Change" review.
Each rifle company wears a different cap badge - London Scottish, Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, or London Irish Rifles. Every badge is represented by those who serve in Headquarters Company. Each company can trace its descent from units of the Rifle Volunteers Corps raised in 1859. At that time, strained relations with France had resulted in public demand for the right to train for the defence of Britain, as memories of the Napoleonic War were still fresh. Official authorisation was granted in 1858 for Volunteer Corps to form and some took their insignia from earlier Armed Associations raised by parishes at the end of the eighteenth century but disbanded after 1815.
When the Rifle Volunteer Corps were raised, there was no County of London, only the City of London. Surrey and Kent extended to the south shore of the Thames at Greenwich and Deptford, with Middlesex on the north bank. Consequently units raised in what later became the County of London bore the old county names. Some recruited to battalion strength, but many were individual companies and these were amalgamated to battalion strength by 1880 and renumbered.
The Cardwell reforms of 1873 had paired Regular Regiments of Foot for alternate tours of home and foreign service, with soldiers interchangeable between the two. At first termed brigades and given numbers, by 1881 they were called Line or Rifle Regiments; the two Regiments of Foot became the 1st and 2nd Battalions and the Militia became the 3rd, and in some cases 4th Battalions. The Rifle Volunteer Corps became part of the new Regiments as Volunteer Battalions, but did not at first adopt the new regimental titles. Considerable numbers of volunteers served in the Boer War with Regular battalions, although the Volunteer Battalions and Rifle Corps did not serve as units in South Africa.
In 1907 the Secretary of State for War, R B Haldane, introduced the Territorial and Reserve Forces Bill by which the Volunteers were to be abolished and replaced by the Territorial Force organised into fourteen Divisions, each complete with all arms and capable of rapid embodiment in time of war.
By now the County of London had been established (taking over parts of Surrey, Kent and Middlesex) and, as no Regular Regiment existed within this area, the London Regiment was formed to be a new Territorial Regiment. (The City of London did have a Regular Regiment - the Royal Fusiliers).
The order which scheduled twenty-eight battalions, including the Honourable Artillery Company infantry battalion as the 26th and the 14th Middlesex (Inns of Court) Volunteer Rifle Corps as the 27th, was rescinded and these two numbers were not used. The first eight battalions were classified as City of London Battalions and the remaining eighteen as County of London Battalions. At twenty-six battalions, the Regiment was unique, the largest in the Army and the only one not to have a common capbadge as each battalion wore its own.
On the outbreak of the First World War, the Regiment was embodied and at the end of 1914 had expanded to fifty-eight battalions, increasing to a maximum strength of eighty-two battalions by May 1915. By 1916 all the battalions were posted to Regular Line or Rifle Regiments, although they did not change their titles. Of these, fifty-six fought in battle with forty-nine battalions taking part in ten battles in France and Flanders, six were at Gallipoli, twelve fought at Salonika, fourteen against the Turks in Palestine and one served in Waziristan and Afghanistan.
After the Armistice the battalions were re-formed as part of the Territorial Army and in 1922 each was given the status of a separate London Regiment, although they still formed part of Regular regiments. By then there were only twenty-three battalions because of amalgamations.
In 1935 seven London Regiments became anti-aircraft units of the Royal Artillery and two years later the remaining sixteen were re-named as battalions of their parent Regiments. The London Regiment had ceased to exist, even in name, after 29 years although its battalions continued to exist and fought in the Second World War under their new names.
By 1939 the old London Regiment had become two Armoured Regiments, ten Anti-Aircraft Regiments, two Signal Regiments, twenty-four Infantry Battalions, and an Officer Cadet Training Unit. Records show that of these units, eight saw action in France and Belgium in 1940, nine took part in the air defence of Britain, one fought in Greece and Crete, seventeen in North Africa, eight in Sicily, twenty in Italy and eight in North-West Europe.
The battalions were reformed in 1947 and suffered some twenty years of amalgamations until the Territorial Army was abolished and the remaining units were formed into the new Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve, which was subjected to further change. Of the original twenty-six battalions of the London Regiment, only the 28th (Artists Rifles) survived as a battalion. However other battalions still retained their identities as companies of new units including the 1st, 2nd, 14th, 18th, 19th, 21st and 23rd Battalions.
In 1999, two companies of the former 4th (V) Bn The Royal Green Jackets joined the Regiment. Under a further restructuring, these companies became part of 7th Bn The Rifles in February 2007.
A Company (London Scottish), based at Westminster and Catford, can trace its descent from the Highland Armed Association of London and the Loyal North Britons.
B Company can trace its history from the 1779 Act of Parliament authorising the raising of Volunteer Companies to be attached to County Militia Regiments.
C Company can trace its descent to Bloomsbury in 1859 when philanthropist Thomas Hughes formed a Company of Volunteers.
The 21st London (D Company) can trace its origins to 1803 when the First Regiment of Surrey Volunteers was formed.