This morning in Hyde Park the British Army’s most spectacular and exacting ceremonial unit faced the ultimate test - The Major General’s annual inspection of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
It is a test the unit has endured for centuries, and one they must pass in order to participate in upcoming State Ceremonial duties. But, for the first time in British history, this year that includes the honour of taking part in celebrations for a Platinum Jubilee.
At 11am around 170 horses and personnel of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment left their Hyde Park Barracks and headed to the “Old Football Pitch” area of Hyde Park to form up and be inspected by the General Officer Commanding the Household Division, Major General Christopher Ghika.
The Major General is responsible for the delivery of all military ceremonial for the Platinum Jubilee, and he is determined that every unit participating will be capable of excellence throughout the forthcoming season. Over the course of the Spring, he has inspected every participating unit in the Household Division from The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery to the Foot Guards, and the Household Cavalry was the final unit to be tested.
During the Hyde Park inspection, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment was accompanied by the Mounted Band of the Household Cavalry with two of their magnificent shire Drum Horses. They will also form a key part of the Platinum Jubilee weekend.
An inspection of horsemanship, turnout and State Ceremonial uniform was made by the Major General. The iconic image of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in their role as escort to the Sovereign, represents the best of British Pageantry to the world, so there was no room for compromise. Troopers had prepared for weeks to perfect their skills, poise and appearance; hours of polishing and minute attention to detail had been invested in ensuring horses, swords and breastplates dazzled.
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are a regular sight at Trooping the Colour where, as the Sovereign’s Escort, they protect Her Majesty on her journey from Buckingham Palace to inspect the parade of Foot Guards on Horse Guards Parade. COVID-19 has curtailed that duty for two years, and the soldiers have been eager to get back into their familiar role.
The regiment demonstrated the main elements of the major State Ceremonial parades that they will conduct throughout the coming season. The Major General, mounted on his horse Atticus, rode through the ranks checking every trooper and Cavalry horse before taking his position at the inspection site. The Household Cavalry Regiment filed past the Major General in walk and trot to replicate their role in the Queen’s Birthday Parade. They also demonstrated a Captain’s Escort (without Standard) as a further demonstration of the Regiment’s capabilities and skills.
For more than 300 years, the soldiers of Household Cavalry have been the Sovereign’s most trusted bodyguards and escort Her Majesty on state occasions such as the ceremonial welcome parades for visiting heads of state. The Unit also provides Staircase parties for the State Opening of Parliament and State Banquets. With the eyes of the world constantly on them, a searing annual quality control check is a challenging but welcome validation for these military perfectionists.
The Commanding Officer of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is Lieutenant Colonel Tom Armitage from the Life Guards. He took up the role of Commanding Officer in January 2021. He said:
“The Major General’s Inspection is a quality control check from the General Officer Commanding the Household Division to assure that the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are ready to conduct mounted ceremonial duties. It is a great honour to carry out these duties and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment have worked tirelessly to ensure they are able to meet the high standard required”.
The Household Cavalry is made up of the two most senior regiments in the British Army - The Life Guards and The Blues & Royals. It is divided into the operationally focussed Household Cavalry Regiment based in Bulford, Wiltshire and the ceremonial Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment which is based in Knightsbridge, London. Soldiers transition seamlessly between the two, delivering cutting edge capability in armoured reconnaissance and combat operations of today whilst still maintaining the highest standards and strong traditions of the past.
Strong in will; to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are the Nation’s trusted guardians.