A soldier in the Life Guards will have the unique honour of being part of the Queen’s Retinue during this year’s Trooping the Colour after being judged one of the ‘Best of the Best’ amongst the Household Cavalry.
Trooper (Tpr) Sam Wallace, 25, was born in the Cayman Islands but grew up in Honiton in Devon with his two brothers and stepsister. He enlisted in the Army in 2019, having heard stories of the military from his grandfather who served in the Royal Logistic Corps.
He joined the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and has spent a year in the Musical Ride, a mounted display team that performs a series of breath-taking equestrian manoeuvres to music, with each performance designed to demonstrate the horsemanship originally needed by the armoured reconnaissance regiment in the days when they still fought on horseback.
The Household Cavalry is a union of the two most senior regiments in the British Army - The Life Guards and The Blues & Royals - and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment are the ceremonial element, conducting mounted state and public duties in London. Their prestige and horsemanship takes them across the UK and the rest of the world on key international events, all whilst representing the Monarch and the nation.
As part of his duties in the Life Guards, Sam will be taking part in Trooping the Colour on the weekend of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee where more than 1400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians will come together in a great display of military precision to mark The Queen's official birthday.
“This is a huge honour, and it shows that all of my efforts have paid off. It’s going to be such a memorable occasion, especially as it’s the year of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee.” Trooper Sam Wallace, Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment
This is Tpr Wallace’s very first occasion participating in the parade, but he has gained an additional honour after competing in the Princess Elizabeth Cup, formerly the Richmond Cup, which sees the finest of the Household Cavalry contending to be crowned the Best Cavalryman.
Troopers are tested on the turn-out of their immaculate ceremonial uniforms, the grooming of their horses and the shine of everything from their headwear to the black leather jackboots worn by each Trooper that receive at least 200 hours of polishing for the competition.
The top eight finishers from the Household Cavalry parade at the Windsor Horse Show before Her Majesty The Queen presents the award for the ‘Best Turned Out Trooper’ and these eight will become the Queen’s Retinue for Trooping the Colour, escorting Her Majesty’s carriage and providing the line-up at the saluting dais while she carries out the inspection of the troops.
Sam explained, “This is a huge honour, and it shows that all of my efforts have paid off. We have already completed four drill rehearsals and a full dress rehearsal in front of thousands of spectators. I know it’s going to be such a memorable occasion, especially as it’s the year of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, and my parents will be in the stands watching which makes it even more special.”
Sam is also Rastafarian and when he first joined the Regiment he was concerned that there would be misconceptions about his faith, but he made contact with the Defence Rastafari Network which was created in 2017 to support serving Rastafarians in the military, and they helped him to write to his Commanding Officer (CO) about the style of dress and hair he needed to be able to express and maintain his beliefs.
He was surprised by the positive response, “My CO was really helpful, we sat down and he was so open to learning and understanding about me and being Rastafari.” Since the creation of the Network, dress regulations have been changed to allow the wearing of a full beard, dreadlocks and turban, required by some denominations, and Sam hopes to develop his relationship with the Network and become an ambassador for others serving in the Armed Forces.
Once the ceremonial season finishes Sam plans to join a Physical Training Instructors course and progress his career into fitness, but for now he will take pride of place in front of the nation, representing the ‘best of the best’ on Her Majesty’s birthday.