The finest equestrians from The British Army and the UK Armed Forces are starring and competing in the Royal Windsor Horse Show this week. A highlight of the Mounted regiments’ calendar, the Show always provides an opportunity to compete alongside sporting heroes as well as put on a performance of military riding excellence for the public.
The Royal Windsor Horse Show Platinum Jubilee Pageant
As well as providing a series of stunning displays of equestrian sportsmanship, for this special Platinum Jubilee themed event, hundreds of Troopers, Gunners and Military Musicians from all three-armed services have come together to provide a spectacular programme of music for the evening Pageant: “A Gallop Through History”.
Opening the show every evening will be a 180 strong Tri-Service Guard of Honour made up of the Royal Navy, the Coldstream Guards and the RAF's Queen's Colour Squadron. They will march into the arena accompanied by the Household Cavalry Mounted Band and Royal Marine Band and Massed Pipes and Drums drawn from 4th Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, The Scots Dragoon Guards, the RAF Pipes and Drums and the Combined Band of the University Officer Training Corps. An orchestra made up of members of the Royal Marine Band, RAF Band, Countess of Wessex String Orchestra and a drummer from the British Army Colchester Band providing musical accompaniment throughout the performance.
Staged every evening for 90 minutes in the Castle Arena, the Pageant celebrates Her Majesty The Queen’s 70 years as Monarch with a rollicking ride through history from the time of Her namesake, Queen Elizabeth I, to the present day. It features more than 500 horses and 1,300 performers, including stars of screen and stage. The pageant will culminate on Sunday led by an all-star cast including Dame Helen Mirren, Damien Lewis, Omid Djalili and Tom Cruise and will be broadcast live on TV.
The Units involved
The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are performing the Musical Ride every afternoon and within the Pageant. The Musical Ride originated in 1882 at The Royal Tournament when a mounted display team from the Household Cavalry performed a series of manoeuvres to music and they have been performing to the public ever since. The performance is designed to demonstrate the type of horsemanship used by the armoured reconnaissance Regiment in the days when they still fought on horseback. Drills which practice battlefield and ceremonial manoeuvres are carried out to music and focus on precise timing, coordination and dressing to ensure that different components are all working together for one purpose.
As part of the Pageant’s historical recreations, The Household Cavalry Mounted Band will provide an escort to Charles II as he rides into the arena, echoing their parade through London in 1660 to restore the Monarchy.
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery are performing the death-defying Musical Drive with their Gun Teams every night in the Castle Arena. Since it was first performed in 1897, many of the awe-inspiring manoeuvres on display have stayed the same, such as the “Scissors”, where Troopers gallop across each other at full speed, with horses only feet away from the speeding Guns and Ammo carriages. It is a stunning display of horsemanship, coordination and timing.
Alongside members of the UK Armed Forces, a number of overseas Cavalry have flown, driven and floated over to show off their skills to the public. Of particular note is La Garde Republicaine, who will be performing alongside their sister Regiment, the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, providing a stunning contrast of uniforms which, when conceived in the Napoleonic period, fought on opposite sides of the battlefield. Joining them are the Secret Drums Corps from Switzerland, the King’s Guard of Norway, The Royal Cavalry of Oman, the Steel Band of the Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force and more.
This year, the Royal Windsor Horse Show is taking place from 12-15 May 2022. It was first staged in 1943 to raise money for the war effort and has been attended by HM The Queen every year since its inception. For 2022 Her Majesty has a record number of entries, with 41 horses competing. It is now the only show in the UK to host international competitions in Show jumping, Dressage, Driving and Endurance. As well as performing, Soldiers can compete in HM The Queen's Challenge Cup, showcasing their Show Jumping skills, and the top eight finishers from the Household Cavalry’s Richmond Cup competition will parade in the Castle Arena before the best of the best is chosen as the “Best Turned Out Trooper”. This prestigious award has been presented by Her Majesty annually since she was a young princess, hence the name, The Princess Elizabeth Cup.
This year, each Gun Team of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will also be competing to win the sought-after “Best Gun Team” award.
It promises to be a show to remember!