King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery

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.

The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery
Officer (left) and trumpeter of the King's Troop on duty at the Queen's Birthday Parade
Active17 April 1946  present
CountryUnited Kingdom
Branch British Army
TypeSaluting Battery
Part ofHQ London District
Garrison/HQRoyal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich, London
Nickname(s)"The Troop"
PatronGeorge VI
AnniversariesTroop Day 24 October
Equipment13 pounder gun
WebsiteThe King's Troop RHA


After the Second World War, King George VI expressed the view that, following the mechanisation of the last batteries of horse-drawn artillery, a troop of horse artillery should be retained to take part in the great ceremonies of state. Accordingly the Riding Troop was reformed on 17 April 1946 at Shoeburyness as a six-gun Royal Horse Artillery battery for the Household Division.[1]

At the suggestion of Brigadier John Anquetil Norman, the King declared that the Riding Troop would be known as 'The King's Troop'.[2] The King enacted his proclamation on 24 October 1947 by amending the page on the visitors' book by striking out the word "Riding" and inserting "King's".[3] On her accession, Queen Elizabeth II declared that the name 'The King's Troop' would remain in honour of her father.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5][6] Because of the greater distance from central London, the troop can no longer ride to many ceremonial events. Horses are transported by vehicle to stables in central London for appearances at Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace and elsewhere.[7]


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.[8]

Musical Drive

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 officer commanding the King's Troop.[10]

Trooping the Colour

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 moves 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]

King's/Queen's Life Guard

One of the regular duties undertaken by the King's Troop is to mount the Queen's Life Guard on Horse Guards Parade. Although this is primarily the role of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, every summer this unit goes away for 2–3 weeks for summer training (and to provide a break for their horses) to Norfolk. During this period, the King's Troop takes over responsibility for providing the mounted sentries.[13]

Order of precedence

In the British Army Order of Precedence, the Household Cavalry is listed first and normally parades at the extreme right of the line. However when the Royal Artillery is on parade with its guns, it becomes the senior regiment and will replace the Household Cavalry at the extreme right of the line.[14][15]

Film The Troop

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.[16] The Glory Film Co. production was produced and directed by Marcus Dillistone, the associate producer was Paul-Anthony Viollet (a former Troop Officer) and the introduction was spoken by Sir John Mills. Music was composed by Julian Scott and performed by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.[17]

See also


  1. Clarke 1993, p. 113
  2. Obituary of Brigadier J. A. Norman, The Times, March 1994
  3. Trooping The Colour For The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery Paramount Magazine, 20 September 2011
  4. Palace Announces Further Changes to Funeral Route BBC News, September 1997
  5. King's Troop RHA moves into state-of-the-art facilities in Woolwich Defence News, 8 February 2012
  6. King's Troop moves to its 'spiritual home' in Woolwich at BBC News, 7 February 2012. Accessed 8 February 2012
  7. Moore-Bridger, Benedict King's Troop hoof it 15 miles to new barracks Evening Standard, London 8 October 2008. Accessed 3 February 2012
  8. "The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  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. "New Faces at Horse Guards". British Guild of Tourist Guides. 18 July 2017. Retrieved 13 July 2019.
  14. Royal horses get their sea legs with a dip in the surf on Cornwall holiday Daily Mail, 21 September 2011
  15. "The Royal Regiment of Artillery". British Army units 1945 on. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  16. The Troop Film – Royal Premiere at BAFTA at Glory Film Co.
  17. The Troop—An Epic Short Film at Glory Film Co.


  • Clarke, W.G. (1993). Horse Gunners: The Royal Horse Artillery, 200 Years of Panache and Professionalism. Woolwich: The Royal Artillery Institution. ISBN 09520762-0-9.
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