- King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery
The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery is a ceremonial unit of the
British Army. It was named The King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery in 1947 when King George VI decided that, following the mechanisation of the last batteries of horse drawn artillery, a troop of horse artillery should be kept to take part in the great ceremonies of state. So, he declared that the Riding Troop of the Royal Horse Artillerywould be known as 'His Troop' or 'The King's Troop'. The King enacted his proclamation by amending the page on the visitors book of the Troop in manuscript, striking out the word "Riding" and inserting "King's". On her accession, Queen Elizabeth II declared that the name 'King's Troop' would remain in honour of her father.
The King's Troop forms part of the
Household Troopsand, when on parade with its guns, takes precedence over all other regiments in the regular forces of the British Army. The 13-pounder guns, named for the weight of shot, were used in World War I and are still in use today, albeit ceremonially.
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. The unit is most often seen providing gun salutes on state occasions in Hyde Park, and Green Park. They also mount the Queen's Life Guardat Horse Guards when the Household Cavalry Mounted Regimentgo away for their summer training.
The King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery performed their Musical Drive at every
Royal Tournamentfrom 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 the Heroes Welcome in Windsor in May 2008 there were six gun teams, each of ten horses and seven riders. Women, first admitted to the King's Toop in 1996, made up one-third of the display team. Major Erica Bridge is the first female commanding officer of the King's Troop. [Information in this section on the Musical Drive from commentary accompanying the BBC1 programme, "A Heroes Welcome", broadcast on 11 May, 2008.]
Trooping the Colour
Together with the
Household Divisionthe King's Troop appear every June at Trooping the Colour, on Horse Guards Paradeto celebrate the Queen's Official Birthday. Along with all guns of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, their guns are their colours and are acknowledged by the Queen and all on parade as such. The guns take precedence over all other regiments when on parade, and so when the cavalry ride past at the culmination of the parade, the King's Trrop are given the distinction of being first to do so, before the Household Cavalry.
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 salutewith an additional 20 rounds fired because the gun position is in a Royal Park.
Other ceremonial duties
On 6 September, 1997, members of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, together with the Guardsmen of the 1st Battalion, the "Prince of Wales" Company, Welsh Guards, served as an escort to Diana, Princess of Wales's casket from Kensington Palace to Westminster Abbey.
Royal Regiment of Artillery
Honourable Artillery Company
Trooping the Colour
* [http://www.army.mod.uk/kingstprha/index.html Official Website]
* [http://www.royaltournament.org www.royaltournament.org] - Information Website
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