The Royal Lancers history stretches back over 300 years, including Dragoons, Hussars and finally Lancers. The regiment’s distinctive cap-badge features the crossed lances with pennons of the 9th/12th Royal Lancers and the Death’s head of The Queen’s Royal Lancers.
The Death’s Head originates from the coat of arms of General Wolfe in whose memory the 17th Light Dragoons were formed. One of Wolfe's ablest commanders and close personal friend was Colonel John Hale of the 47th Regiment of Foot. It fell to Col. Hale to bring back to the King the mixed news of victory over the French paid for in part with the death of Wolfe.
In thanks to the role of Hale, the King granted him a commission to raise one of the five new regiments of Light Dragoons that were being planned as part of preparations for the Seven Years War. With a rich and varied history, the modern Lancer regiments have fought in every major conflict of the last 3 centuries, and its soldiers are rightly proud of this heritage.
The Regiment’s motto is Death or Glory.
The Regiment is honoured to have Her Majesty The Queen as Colonel in Chief of the Regiment with HRH The Duke of York and HRH Princess Alexandra as Deputy Colonels in Chief.
Regiments of Dragoons were raised in July 1715 as a result of the revolt of the supporters of the Stuarts against the Rule of King George I. The 9th Dragoons were raised by Major General Owen Wynne and the 12th by Brigadier Phineas Bowles. Both officers were veterans of Marlborough’s Wars and had distinguished records of service.
The 9th were first in action and suffered casualties in the defeat of the rebel forces at Preston on the 11th November 1715. The 12th were initially employed in escorting state prisoners to London both initially being used for civil unrest and served in Ireland for many years. The 12th served from 1725 to 1792 which was 67 years – the regiments longest ever posting!
In 1793 Great Britain declared war on France and the 12th went on active service for the first time. They were sent to the Mediterranean and part of the regiment was present at the taking of Bastia in Corsica. Meanwhile the 9th had been involved in fierce fighting in Ireland which had broken out in 1798 and were particularly praised for their conduct at the action of Three Bullet Gate.
In 1801 the 12th took part in General Abercrombie’s campaign in Egypt and in 1802 the 12th returned to England and were honoured by Royal Authority to bear on its Guidons the Sphinx with Egypt. This was the 12th’s first battle honour.
In 1811 both regiments sailed for the Spanish Peninsula in order to reinforce the Duke of Wellington’s Army and both regiments were awarded the honour ‘Peninsula’. The lancer regiments of Napoleon’s Army had shown how effective cavalry regiments armed with the lance could be and in 1816 an order was published directing that the 9th and 12th Light Dragoons should be armed with the lance.
In 1842 the 9th were sent to India and in 1843 they took part in the campaign against the Mahratta State of Gwalior. In 1855 the 12th were sent from India to the Crimea to reinforce the Light Cavalry Brigade which had been decimated by the charge at Balaclava. Both regiments were in India at the outbreak of the Mutiny in 1857. The 9th was the only regiment to be present at the three major actions of the campaign and during this campaign the 9th won 13 Victoria Crosses.
In 1878 the 9th took part in the Afghan campaign. In addition to the famous charge at Kila Kazi the regiment also too part in famous march from Kabul to Kandahar. In 1879 Lord William Beresford of the 9th was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the Zulu War. Both regiments fought in the South African (Boer) War of 1899-1902.
In 1914 both regiments went to Flanders as part of the BEF and served on the Western Front throughout the Great War of 1914-18. The current regiment now celebrates Mons/Moy Day annually, which commemorates the last occasion on which both regiments charged with the lance: on the 28th August 1914 C Squadron of the 12th made a most successful charge at Moy and on the 7th September at Moncel the regiment charged with RHQ and two troops of B Squadron this was the last significant lance against lance action of the Great War.
Both charges were led by the commanding officers. On the 24th August 1914 Captain Francis Grenfell of the 9th won the last Victoria Cross of the Regiment at Audregnies.
In 1928, while serving in Egypt, the 12th gave up their horses and became a Cavalry Armoured Car Regiment and on the outbreak of War in 1939 the 12th Lancers, equipped with their armoured cars, landed in France on the 16th October. The 9th, as a new armoured regiment in the 2nd Armoured Brigade of the 1st Armoured Division, landed in France on the 20 March, 1940.
In his despatches Lord Gort wrote that, “Without the Twelfth Lancers only a small part of the Army would have reached Dunkirk”. Both regiments served with the 8th Army throughout the Desert and North African Campaigns. The 9th played a leading part in the Battle of Alamein.
After the war both regiments were employed on security duties in Palestine and in 1951 the 12th sailed for Malaya where it was employed for three years on security duties.
On its return from the Far East it was posted to Germany where it remained until 1959. It then moved to Cyprus for a year before returning to England prior to amalgamation.
On the 11th September 1960, the two regiments were to be amalgamated and marched to church at Tidworth for the last time. Since amalgamation the regiment has served in Aden, Northern Ireland (Op BANNER), Cyprus, Bosnia (Op GRAPPLE & LODESTAR), Kosovo, Saudi Arabia (Op GRANBY), Iraq (Op TELIC) and Afghanistan (Op HERRICK).
Serving with both NATO and the United Nations. It was during this period that the regiment was also stationed in Germany in Osnabruck, Detmold, Hohne, Wolfenbuttel and Herford during the Cold War.