Royal Horse Guards
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|Royal Horse Guards|
Member of the Royal Horse Guards, 1826
|Country|| Commonwealth of England (1650–1660)
Kingdom of England (1660–1707)
Kingdom of Great Britain (1707–1800)
United Kingdom (1801–1969)
|Motto||Honi soit qui mal y pense|
|March||Quick March: Grand March
Slow March: Regimental Slow March of the Royal Horse Guards
|Engagements||See Battle honours list|
Founded August 1650 in Newcastle upon Tyne by Sir Arthur Haselrig on the orders of Oliver Cromwell as the Regiment of Cuirassiers, also known as the London lobsters, the regiment became the Earl of Oxford's Regiment during the reign of King Charles II. As the regiment's uniform was blue in colour at the time, it was nicknamed "the Oxford Blues", from which was derived the nickname the "Blues." In 1750 the regiment became the Royal Horse Guards Blue and eventually, in 1877, the Royal Horse Guards (The Blues).
The Royal Regiment of Horse Guards began life in 1661 after the Venner Riots. It suited the new King Charles II and his brother, James, Duke of York, so as to make a force from expediency. Colonel Unton Croke's Regiment of Horse was used, a former Commonwealth officer, to found the Royal Horse Guards. Known as the Blues after the colour of the uniform, they first paraded at Tothill Field in London on 6 February 1661. They differed from the previous Blues, who were parliamentarians of the civil wars. However they were identifiably protestant, although influenced by the French mousquetaire.
Early duties included escort. There were three Troops: King's Troop was at Canterbury, but one was usually at Southwark. Henry Compton's Troop, posted at Bagshot, was responsible for protecting the Navy Office at Portsmouth. They were used to round up prisoners. Early policing included the arresting of contraband tobacco smuggled from the colonies.
The Royal Horseguards were wealthy gentlemen, sons of the well-to-do, not controlled by parliament. By 1685, Charles II was paying the guards £283,000. But the Blues deployed almost entirely outside London; in 1666, the duke of York's 'Articles and Rules of War' attempted absolute royal control over the army. In disciplinary disputes officers appealed to the Privy Council, the highest executive body in the kingdom.
In 1670, a scandal broke: Capt Gerard, who had assaulted Sir John Coventry MP for sneering at the Court's mistresses, was found to have misappropriated large sums of pay for 'false musters'. The Life Guards were more catholic and under York's influence, whereas the Duke of Monmouth by 1674 was Commander-in-chief. The champion of Protestantism had more support in the country and amongst the Blues. However fears of absolutism and dismissals of catholic officers undermined morale "they being incapable of employment." The successful police work of the Blues may have save the Treasury money and urged upon the King abandonment of a Pro-French foreign policy. Monmouth's popularity and support of the Blues, led to his dismissal in 1679; and probably directly to the Rye House Plot. A chief conspirator was Sir Thomas Armstrong of the Blues. Armstrong fled abroad, as did Lord Grey. Plotters Lord Russell and Algernon Sidney were escorted to the scaffold by Life Guards.
- Dettingen, Warburg, Beaumont, Willems, Peninsula, Waterloo, Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt 1882, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899-1900
- The Great War: Mons, Le Cateau, Retreat from Mons, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Messines 1914, Armentières 1914, Ypres 1914 '15 '17, Langemarck 1914, Gheluvelt, Nonne Bosschen, St Julien, Frezenberg, Loos, Arras 1917, Scarpe 1917, Broodseinde, Poelcappelle, Passchendaele, Hindenburg Line, Cambrai 1918, Sambre, France and Flanders 1914-18
- The Second World War: Mont Pinçon, Souleuvre, Noireau Crossing, Amiens 1944, Brussels, Neerpelt, Nederrijn, Nijmegen, Lingen, Bentheim, North-West Europe 1944-45, Baghdad 1941, Iraq 1941, Palmyra, Syria 1941, El Alamein, North Africa 1942-43, Arezzo, Advance to Florence, Gothic Line, Italy 1944
Colonels —with other names for the regiment
- 1650 - 1661 Sir Arthur Haselrig —Haselrig's Regiment of Cuirassiers
- 1661 - 1688 Aubrey, Earl of Oxford —de Vere's or Earl of Oxford's Regiment
- 1688 - 1688 James, Duke of Berwick —FitzJames's or Duke of Berwick's Regiment
- 1688 - 1688 James, Earl of Arran —Hamilton's or Earl of Arran's Regiment
- 1688 - 1703 Aubrey, Earl of Oxford —de Vere's or Earl of Oxford's Regiment
- 1703 - 1712 George, Duke of Northumberland — FitzRoy's or Duke of Northumberland's Regiment
- 1712 - 1712 Richard, Earl Rivers —Savage's or Earl Rivers' Regiment
- 1712 - 1715 Charles, Earl of Peterborough —Mordaunt's or Earl of Peterborough's Regiment
- 1715 - 1717 John, Duke of Argyll —Campbell's or Duke of Argyll's Regiment
- 1717 - 1735 Charles, Marquis of Winchester —Powlett's or Marquis of Winchester's Regiment
- 1735 - 1740 John, Duke of Argyll —Campbell's or Duke of Argyll's Regiment
- 1740 - 1742 Algernon, Earl of Hertford —Seymour's or Earl of Hertford's Regiment
- 1742 - 1742 John, Duke of Argyll —Campbell's or Duke of Argyll's Regiment
- 1742 - 1750 Algernon, Duke of Somerset —Seymour's or Earl of Hertford's or Duke of Somerset's Regiment
- from 1750 Royal Horse Guards Blue
On 1 July 1751 a royal warrant provided that in future regiments would not be known by their colonels' names, but by their "number or rank".
- 1750 - 1753 Charles, Duke of Richmond —Lennox's or Richmond's Regiment
- 1753 - 1758 Sir John Ligonier
- 1758 - 1770 John, Marquess of Granby
- 1770 - 1795 Henry Seymour Conway
- 1795 - 1806 Charles, Duke of Richmond
- 1806 - 1813 Hugh, Duke of Northumberland
- 1813 - The Duke of Wellington
- from 1877 Royal Horse Guards (The Blues)
- Sir G. Arthur, The Story of the Household Cavalry, 1, p.92.
- Arthur, p.149
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