King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery

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The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery
Horseguardssentry.jpg
A King's Troop sentry outside Horse Guards
Active 1947-present
Country United Kingdom
Branch Army
Type Saluting Battery
Role Ceremonial
Part of HQ London District
Garrison/HQ Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich, London
Nickname "The Troop"
Patron George VI
Equipment 13 pounder gun
Website The King's Troop RHA

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery is a ceremonial unit of the British Army, quartered at Woolwich. It is a mounted unit and all of its soldiers are trained to care for and drive teams of six horses pulling each of six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns used today to fire salutes on state occasions. Its duties include the firing of royal salutes on royal anniversaries and state occasions, and providing a gun carriage and team of black horses for state and military funerals. The unit is most often seen providing gun salutes on state occasions in Hyde Park, and Green Park.

History[edit]

The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery was prior to the visit of King Geroge VI on 24th October 1947 named The Riding Troop, Royal Horse Artillery. King George VI decided a troop of horse artillery should take part in the great ceremonies of state. At the suggestion of Brigadier John Anquetil Norman, the King declared that the Troop would be known as 'The King's Troop'.[1] The King enacted his proclamation by amending the page on the visitors' book by striking out the word "Riding" and inserting "King's".[2] On her accession, Queen Elizabeth II declared that the name 'The King's Troop' would remain in honour of her father.[2] On 6 September 1997, the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales was carried on a gun carriage by members of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.[3] The King’s Troop was for 65 years stationed at St John's Wood Barracks before it was relocated to Napier Lines at the traditional Royal Artillery Barracks at Woolwich in February 2012.[4][5] Because of the greater distance from central London, the troop can no longer ride to many ceremonial events but horses will be transported by vehicle to nearer stables for appearances at Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace and elsewhere.[6]

Role[edit]

Horses of the King's Troop drawing the gun carriage upon which is the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales in 1997.
The King's Troop riding in Hyde Park in preparation for a Royal Salute for the birthday of Prince Charles in 2012.
King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery at Trooping the Colour 2009

Although the King's Troop is primarily a ceremonial unit, with responsibility for firing gun salutes on state occasions, it has an operational role as part of the territorial defence of the United Kingdom. Men and women of The King's Troop are trained as fighting soldiers. Six men or women are currently deployed in Afghanistan or Iraq at any one time.[7] When the Army mobilises, the King’s Troop provides HGV drivers who deliver ammunition to artillery units around the battlefield.[8]

Musical Drive[edit]

The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery performed their Musical Drive at every Royal Tournament from its formation in 1947 to the final Royal Tournament on 2 August 1999. The Musical Drive can be seen at shows around the United Kingdom and always at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May every year.

Many of the manoeuvres of the Musical Drive have remained unchanged since it was first performed in 1897. The start, known as the Big Drive, features the Scissors, where the whole team criss-cross at gallop, displaying choreography, teamwork and discipline. Another manoeuvre, the Wagon Wheel, depicts an inner wheel, spokes, and an outer wheel. A display may then finish with a Battery Charge.

For a "Hero's Welcome" event in Windsor in May 2008[9] there were six gun teams, each of ten horses and seven riders. Women, first admitted to the King's Troop in 1996, made up one-third of the display team. Major Erica Bridge was the first female commanding officer of the King's Troop.[10]

Trooping the Colour[edit]

Together with the Household Division the King's Troop has appeared every June since 1997, when it made its first appearance, at Trooping the Colour, on Horse Guards Parade to celebrate the Queen's Official Birthday. At the end of the event the King's Troop ranks past the Queen.[11]

After the ceremony, the King's Troop repairs to Green Park, adjacent to Buckingham Palace, firing a 41-gun salute, which is a 21-gun salute with an additional 20 rounds fired because the gun position is in a Royal Park.[12]

Order of precedence[edit]

In the British Army Order of Precedence, the Household Cavalry is always listed first and always parades at the extreme right of the line. However when the Royal Horse Artillery is on parade with its guns, (usually in the form of The Kings Troop) it will replace the Household Cavalry at the extreme right of the line.[13]

The Troop

Film The Troop[edit]

A 35mm CinemaScope film, The Troop, was filmed in Windsor Great Park and at 'The Wood' barracks. The film had a royal premiere before the Princess Royal at BAFTA in September 1999.[14] The Glory Film Co. production was produced by Marcus Dillistone and Paul-Anthony Viollet (A former Troop Officer), and directed by Marcus Dillistone with an introduction spoken by Sir John Mills. Music was composed by Julian Scott and performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.[15]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Obituary of Brigadier J. A. Norman, The Times, March 1994
  2. ^ a b Trooping The Colour For The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery Paramount Magazine, 20 September 2011
  3. ^ Palace Announces Further Changes to Funeral Route BBC News, September 1997
  4. ^ King's Troop RHA moves into state-of-the-art facilities in Woolwich Defence News, 8 February 2012
  5. ^ King's Troop moves to its 'spiritual home' in Woolwich at BBC News, 7 February 2012. Accessed 8 February 2012
  6. ^ Moore-Bridger, Benedict King's Troop hoof it 15 miles to new barracks Evening Standard, London 8 October 2008. Accessed 3 February 2012
  7. ^ Team chosen to relocate King's Troop to Woolwich Defence News, 22 Jun 2010
  8. ^ Historic arrival of King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery at their new home in Woolwich Royal Borough of Greenwich, 27 January 2012
  9. ^ A Heroes (sic) Welcome Broadcast item at BBC One, 11 May 2008
  10. ^ Roya Nikkhah King's Troop prepares for Royal Tattoo at Telegraph, 13 April 2008
  11. ^ Trooping the Colour at official British Monarchy website
  12. ^ Trooping The Colour Coach Holiday News, 31 May 2011
  13. ^ Royal horses get their sea legs with a dip in the surf on Cornwall holiday Daily Mail, 21 September 2011
  14. ^ The Troop Film - Royal Premiere at BAFTA at Glory Film Co.
  15. ^ The Troop—An Epic Short Film at Glory Film Co.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]