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Best turned out troopers provide escort for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Birthday

8 members of the Household Cavalry have paraded in front of His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex to find out who will receive the Princess Elizabeth Cup and all eight will flank Her Majesty The Queen as her Retinue at her birthday parade on 2 June. 

Soldiers from the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery are thrilling audiences at a very special Platinum Jubilee themed Royal Windsor Horse Show this week in the grounds of Windsor Castle. As well as displaying their show jumping prowess, performing in a star-studded Pageant each evening as part of a cast of 1300 performers, a tri-service orchestra, and 500 horses; the British Army’s ceremonial mounted units are performing their showpiece events, the Household Cavalry’s Musical Ride, and The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery’s heart stopping Musical Drive, in the show’s Castle Arena. 

But for eight cavalry troopers the show has high stakes. They have already been deemed the best of the best for immaculate turn out of horse and soldier by the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, but today the very best of the eight was presented the Princess Elizabeth Cup by His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex and declared the “Best Turned Out Trooper”. Today, in front of a capacity crowd in the Castle Arena, the coveted silver cup went to Trooper Prince Ainuson of The Blues and Royals.

Born and raised in Ghana, where he is the third oldest of seven siblings, Trooper Ainuson achieved a 1st Class Honours Degree in Economics in Ghana, before moving to the UK and achieving a Masters of Science in Economic Development from the University of Nottingham. Prince Ainuson then joined the Army and began his career with the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment where he had to learn to ride a horse in full military ceremonial kit. He has served in the Blues and Royals, The Royal Horse Guards Dragoons, since March 2021. This impressive soldier hopes to commission as an Officer in the Adjutant Generals Corps in the near future.

This is a moment that feels very special for me, and it’s probably going to be one of my proudest moments of my life to win the Princess Elizabeth Cup. All the late nights staying up cleaning my kit and waxing on and off were absolutely worth it. I would like to thank my horse, Northumberland, for doing me proud on the day and for standing proud and tall. It was such an honour to be presented the prize by Prince Edward. Trooper Ainuson, Blues and Royals, Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment

Blues and Royals’ Trooper Shaun Flanagan, one of the Regiment’s best marksmen, who hails from Alton in Hampshire, came second, and Life Guards Trooper Tevita Cava, a former farmer and keen rugby player from Fiji, came third.

The Princess Elizabeth Cup is an annual event that pits the very best of our ceremonial soldiers against each other in a craft that they have become masters of – military precision, attention to detail and guardsman-like perfection. It is a huge effort for them but also a huge reward to meet a member of the Royal Family.

Every part of the horse, harness and the Trooper's uniform is meticulously checked by the judges and given a score. The level of detail and expectation of perfection in uniform, horse regalia and bearing is remarkable. Months of preparation, long sleepless nights, and genuine devotion goes into waxing the bridles, head kit, saddle, stirrup leathers and girth to a surreal standard. Every stitch is analysed and checked; every surface must be glassy smooth. The mirror-like black leather Jack Boots each trooper wears will have received 200 hours of polishing alone for this one event. The horses are prepared to look their very best. Hooves are chalked, painted and polished finer than the most elite human pedicure. Their tails are "banged" (trimmed) at spirit level accuracy, their coats and beards shaved, then groomed to a high reflective polish, their eyes, docks and lips vaselined to help them gleam with health. A healthy, balanced diet and strict exercise regime means their muscles ripple.

Although today Trooper Ainuson won the Cup, every one of the eight is a winner. Their reward is to spend The Queen's Platinum Jubilee Birthday Parade on 2 June as The Queen’s Retinue. They will be part of the Royal escort and during the parade will flank the Royal Dais. It is a position of huge honour, profile and responsibility.

The discipline and attention to detail required to compete in for the Princess Elizabeth Cup is widely acknowledged in the Regiment as being one of the contributing factors to the excellent reconnaissance reputation the Household Cavalry enjoys in its armoured role at the service regiment. Indeed, thanks to their minute attention to detail, the Regiment claimed some of the largest finds of enemy weapons, opium and explosives during the last decade of operations in Afghanistan.

The Royal Windsor Horse Show first started in 1943 to raise money for the war effort. It has run every year since and is now the only show in the UK to host international competitions in Showjumping, Dressage, Driving and Endurance.