Blues and Royals

The Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons) (RHG/D) is a cavalry regiment of the British Army, part of the Household Cavalry. The Colonel-in-Chief is Queen Elizabeth II and the Colonel of the Regiment is Anne, Princess Royal. It is the second-most senior regiment in the British Army.

The Blues and Royals
(Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons)
Badge of the Household Cavalry
Active29 March 1969–present
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
TypeHorse Guards
RoleArmoured reconnaissance/Ceremonial
SizeOne regiment
Part ofHousehold Cavalry
Garrison/HQRHQ – London
Regiment – Windsor/London
Nickname(s)The Tin Bellies
Motto(s)Honi soit qui mal y pense
(Evil be to him who evil thinks)
MarchQuick – Quick March of the Blues and Royals
Slow – Slow March of the Blues and Royals
Trot Past – Keel Row
Battle honours
Colonel-in-ChiefThe Queen
Colonel of
the Regiment
The Princess Royal KG KT GCVO GCStJ QSO
Tactical Recognition Flash
Arm BadgeWaterloo Eagle
from Royal Dragoons (1st Dragoons)


The Blues and Royals is one of two regiments of the Household Division that can trace its lineage back to the New Model Army, the other being the Coldstream Guards.


The regiment was formed in 1969 from the merger of the Royal Horse Guards, which was known as "the Blues" or "the Oxford Blues", and the Royal Dragoons, which was known as "the Royals".[1]

Since then, the new regiment has served in Northern Ireland, Germany, and Cyprus. During the Falklands War of 1982, the regiment provided the two armoured reconnaissance troops. The regiment also had a squadron on operational duty with the United Nations in Bosnia in 1994–95. Most recently, the regiment saw action in the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan.[1]

Both Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, joined the regiment as cornets in 2006.[2]

Operational union

As a result of the Options for Change Review in 1991, the Blues and Royals formed a union for operational purposes with the Life Guards as the Household Cavalry Regiment. However, they each maintain their regimental identity, with distinct uniforms and traditions, and their own colonel. The Blues and Royals currently has two reconnaissance squadrons in Windsor, which are part of the Household Cavalry Regiment, and a mounted squadron in London as part of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.[3]

Regimental traditions

Instead of being known as the Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons, the regiment is known as the Blues and Royals and is therefore the only regiment in the British Army to be officially known by their nickname as opposed to their full name.[4]

Newly commissioned officers in the Blues and Royals are named Cornets, rather than Second Lieutenants as is the standard in the rest of the British Army. The rank of sergeant does not exist in the Household Cavalry. The equivalent is Corporal of Horse, which also applies to any other ranks with the word sergeant in it, such as Regimental Sergeant Major, which is replaced by Regimental Corporal Major. King Edward VII also declared the rank of Private should be replaced by the rank of Trooper in the cavalry.[5]

The Blues and Royals is the only regiment in the British Army that allows troopers and non-commissioned officers, when not wearing headdress, to salute an officer. The custom started after the Battle of Warburg in 1760 by the Marquess of Granby, who commanded both the Royal Horse Guards and the Royal Dragoons, which were separate units at the time. During the battle, the Marquess had driven the French forces from the field, losing both his hat and his wig during the charge. When reporting to his commander, Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick, in the heat of the moment he is said to have saluted without wearing his headdress, having lost it earlier. When the Marquess of Granby became the Colonel of the Blues, the regiment adopted this tradition.[6]

When the Household Cavalry mounts an escort to the Sovereign on State occasions, a ceremonial axe with a spike is carried by a Farrier Corporal of Horse. The historical reason behind this is that when a horse was wounded or injured so seriously that it could not be treated, its suffering was ended by killing it with the spike. The axe is also a reminder of the days when the Sovereign's escorts accompanied royal coaches and when English roads were very bad. Horses often fell, becoming entangled in their harnesses and had to be freed with the cut of an axe. It is also said that in those times, if a horse had to be killed, its rider had to bring back a hoof, cut off with the axe, to prove to the Quartermaster that the animal was dead and hence preventing fraudulent replacement. Today, the axe remains as a symbol of the Farrier's duties.[7]


On ceremonial occasions, the Blues and Royals wear a blue tunic (inherited from the Royal Horse Guards, also known as "the Blues"), a metal cuirass, and a matching helmet with a red plume worn unbound, and against popular belief the regiment's farriers wear a red plume like the rest of the regiment but do not wear the metal cuirass. In addition, the Blues and Royals wear their chin strap under their chin, as opposed to the Life Guards, who wear it below their lower lip. On service dress, the Blues and Royals wear a blue lanyard on the left shoulder, as well as a Sam Browne belt containing a whistle. In most dress orders, the Waterloo Eagle is worn on the left arm as part of dress traditions.[8] The Blues and Royals, 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.[9]

Prince Harry wore the uniform at the wedding of his brother, Prince William, to Catherine Middleton.[10] Both Prince Harry and Prince William also received permission from the Queen to wear the frock coat version of the uniform to Prince Harry's wedding to Meghan Markle.[11]

The modern mess dress worn by officers of the regiment reflects the traditions of the Royal Dragoons and includes a scarlet jacket with dark blue facings.[12]


The regiment's Colonels-in-Chief were as follows:[13]

Regimental colonels

The regiment's colonels were as follows:[13]

Deputy Colonel: General Sir Desmond Fitzpatrick (formerly Colonel of 1st The Royal Dragoons)

Battle honours

The battle honours are:[14]

*Awarded jointly with the Life Guards for services of the Household Cavalry Regiment


  1. "The Blues and Royals". British Army. Retrieved 7 January 2013.
  2. "Prince William joins the Household Cavalry (Blues and Royals)". Prince of Wales. 21 September 2006. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  3. "Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment". Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  4. "BBC One - The Queen's Cavalry". 2005-12-20. Retrieved 2014-05-03.
  5. White-Spunner, p. xiv
  6. Interpretive sign at the Household Cavalry Museum in London.
  7. "The Household Cavalry – Pageantry Personified" (PDF). Retrieved 3 May 2014.
  8. "Household Cavalry - Uniforms And Components". Retrieved 2014-05-03.
  9. "Ranks and Insignia for Infantry Officers through out the Victorian Era". Victorian Strollers. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  10. "Revealed: The outfit for the royal wedding", The Daily Mail, 29 April 2011
  11. "Meghan's wedding dress, Prince Harry's military uniform and what the guests wore | CBC News". Retrieved 2018-05-19.
  12. "The Blues & Royals | Badges & Buttons". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
  13. "The Blues and Royals". Archived from the original on 26 December 2005. Retrieved 24 June 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  14. "The Household Cavalry: Standards". Archived from the original on 3 February 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2014.


  • Alexander, Michael (1957). The True Blue: The Life and Adventures of Colonel Fred Burnaby. Fred Burnaby.
  • Emerson, William (1951). Monmouth's Rebellion. Yale.
  • Goulburn, Edward (1805). The Blueviad. J Maynard.
  • Horsley, John (1805). The Case of John Horsley Esq. National Army Museum: privately in London.
  • Redgrave KBE MC, Major General Sir Roy (2000). Balkan Blue. Leo Cooper Pen and Sword Books.
  • Warner, Philip (1984). The British Cavalry. Dent and Sons.
  • Watson, J N P (1993). The Story of the Blues and Royals. Leo Cooper Pen and Sword Books.
  • White-Spunner, Barney (2006). Horse Guards. Macmillan. ISBN 1-4050-5574-X.
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