Life Guards (United Kingdom)
|The Life Guards|
Cap Badge of the Life Guards
|Active||Since 21 May 1922 (roots dating back to 1660)|
|Part of||Household Cavalry|
|Garrison/HQ||RHQ – London
Regiment – Windsor/London
|Nickname(s)||Piccadilly Cowboys, Donkey Wallopers, Tins, Tinned Fruit, Piccadilly Butchers.|
|Motto||Honi soit qui mal y pense
(Evil be to him who evil thinks)
Slow: Life Guards Slow March
Trot past: Keel Row
|Colonel-in-Chief||Her Majesty The Queen|
|Field Marshal The Rt Hon. The Lord Guthrie of Craigiebank, GCB, LVO, OBE, ADC, DL|
|Tactical Recognition Flash|
The Life Guards grew from the four troops of Horse Guards (exclusively formed of gentlemen-troopers until the transformation of the last two remaining troops into Regiments of Life Guards in 1788) raised by Charles II around the time of his restoration, plus two troops of Horse Grenadier Guards (rank and file composed of commoners), which were raised some years later.
- The first troop was originally raised in Bruges in 1658 as His Majesty's Own Troop of Horse Guards. They formed part of the contingent raised by the exiled King Charles II as his contribution to the army of King Philip IV of Spain who were fighting the French and their allies the English Commonwealth under the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell in the Franco-Spanish War and the concurrent Anglo-Spanish War.
- The second troop was originally founded in 1659 as Monck's Life Guards.
- The third troop, like the first troop was formed in 1658 from exiled Royalists and was initially known as The Duke of York's Troop of Horse Guards.
- The fourth troop was raised in 1661 in England.
- The first troop of horse grenadier guards was formed in 1693 from the amalgamation of three troops of grenadiers.
- The second troop of horse grenadier guards was raised in Scotland in 1702.
The 3rd and 4th troops were disbanded in 1746. In 1788, the remaining 1st and 2nd troops, along with the two troops of Horse Grenadier Guards, were reorganised into two regiments, the 1st and 2nd Regiments of Life Guards (from 1877, simply 1st Life Guards and 2nd Life Guards). From then on (1788), rank and file were mostly formed of commoners (pejorative nickname:"cheesemongers")., the bulk of the gentlemen-troopers were pensioned off.
In late 1918, after much service in the First World War, the two regiments gave up their horses and were re-roled as machine gun battalions, becoming the 1st and 2nd Battalions, Guards Machine Gun Regiment. They reverted to their previous names and roles after the end of the war. In 1922, the two regiments were merged into one regiment, the The Life Guards (1st and 2nd). In 1928, it was re-designated The Life Guards.
In 1992, as part of the Options for Change defence review, The Life Guards were joined together with the Blues and Royals in a 'Union' – not an amalgamation – forming the Household Cavalry Regiment (armoured reconnaissance) and the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (ceremonial duties). However, they maintain their regimental identity, with distinct uniforms and traditions, and their own colonel.
In common with the Blues and Royals, they have a peculiar non-commissioned rank structure: see the Household Cavalry page for details. (In brief, they lack sergeants, replacing them with multiple grades of corporal.)
Names used by the regiment were as follows:
- From 1788, 1st Regiment of Life Guards and 2nd Regiment of Life Guards
- From 1877, 1st Life Guards and 2nd Life Guards
- From 1922, The Life Guards (1st and 2nd)
- From 1928, The Life Guards
On ceremonial occasions the Life Guards wear a scarlet tunic, a metal cuirass and a matching helmet with a white plume worn bound on the top into an 'onion' shape; the exceptions to this are the regiment's trumpeters, who wear a red plume, and farriers, who wear blue tunics and have a black plume. In addition, the Life Guards wear their chin strap below their lower lip, as opposed to the Blues and Royals who wear it under their chin. On service dress the Life Guards wear a red lanyard on the right shoulder, as well as a Sam Browne belt. The Life Guards, as part of the Household Division, does not use the Order of the Bath Star for its officer rank 'pips', but rather the Order of the Garter Star.
The battle honours are: [combined battle honours of 1st Life Guards and 2nd Life Guards, with the following emblazoned]:1
- Dettingen, Peninsula, Waterloo, Tel-el-Kebir, Egypt 1882, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, South Africa 1899–1900
- The Great War2: Mons, Le Cateau, Marne 1914, Aisne 1914, Messines 1914, Ypres 1914, Passchendaele 1917 '18, Somme 1916 '18, Arras 1917 '18, Hindenburg Line, France and Flanders 1914–18
- The Second World War3: Mont Pincon, 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
- Wadi al Batin, Gulf 1991, Al Basrah, Iraq 20033
- The regiment maintained the fiction of separate regiments until 1928, receiving in 1927 two separate sets of Standards with different (but almost identical) battle honours emblazoned.
- Revised combined list issued May 1933, omitting from emblazonment "Passchendaele" and "St. Quentin Canal" of the 1st Life Guards.
- Awarded jointly to The Life Guards and Blues and Royals, for services of Household Cavalry Regiment.
Order of precedence
First in Order of
Precedence of the Cavalry
|Cavalry Order of Precedence||Succeeded by
The Blues and Royals
(Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons)
- Magnæ Britanniæ Notitia (1716) p. 115f.: Of the Troops of the Household
- Encyclopædia britannica, Vol. 8 (1797), p. 171: Horse Guards
- Tincey, John; Embleton, Gerry (1994). The British Army 1660-1704. Great Britain: Osprey Publishing. p. 43. ISBN 978-1-85532-381-0. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- White-Spunner, p. xii
- "The Life Guards". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- Slang Dictionaries (2014), edited by John Camden Hotten, Francis Grose, Ambrose Bierce
- The statutes at large from the Magna Charta, to the end of the eleventh Parliament of Great Britain, anno 1761 [continued to 1806]. By Danby Pickering (1762); Vol. 36 (London, 1788), p. 362
- White-Spunner, p. xiv
- "The Rank Past of the Mounted Guards". Trooping the Colour. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
- "The Household Cavalry: Order of dress and explanation of the items of clothing". Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- "The Household Cavalry: Standards". Retrieved 3 May 2014.
- Baker, Granville (1934). Old Cavalry Stations. Heath Cranton Ltd.
- Dawnay, Major N P (n.d.). The Standards of the Household Cavalry. Gale and Polden, Aldershot.
- Lloyd, W (1992). Challengers and Chargers: A History of The Life Guards 1945-1992. Leo Cooper.
- Roberts, Andrew (2005). Waterloo. Harper Collins.
- Roynon, Gavin (2004). Massacre of Innocents: The Crofton Diaries 1914-15. Sutton publishing.
- Watson, J N P (1997). Guardsmen of the Sky. Michael Russell.
- White-Spunner, Barney (2006). Horse Guards. Macmillan. ISBN 978-1405055741.
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