The Household Cavalry Museum
After visiting the museum on a Monday when the very friendly and extremely knowledgable Nick was volunteering, I was very lucky to be treated to my very own private tour of the Household Cavalry Museum!
After spending most of the morning making our way through the museum, I feel like I now know as much as Nick about the museum, and it was such a pleasure to spend the morning with him, and to learn about a real passion of his.
The museum itself is a living and working area within Horseguards, Whitehall, and it still remains the headquarters to the Household Cavalry. With a history spanning back to 1750, the museum gives you the chance to learn more about the queens mounted bodyguards, stationed outside at the ceremonial entrance to St James and Buckingham Palace. Here you can learn about the history of the regiments and their duties here and abroad, the unique and colourful uniforms, their roles into the present day and also discover the museums collection of rare and unique treasures from it's vast history.
The Household Cavalry was founded in 1661, under King Charles II, and today consists of two regiments of the British Army, The Lifeguards and the Blues and Royals. Their job is to guard the Queen on ceremonial occasions as part of the Royal pageantry, and they also work as an operational regiment who serve across the world.
You've probably walked down Whitehall and noticed the horses stationed outside, but I suggest you get down to the area at 11am to see the Changing of the Guard, which takes place through the arches on Tiltyard (and then of course go and explore the museum afterwards!).
One of the two mentioned regiments would have been on guard the previous 24 hours, and 11am is the time to changeover, and if you're in the area you'll have the opportunity to see the most pompous shift change you'll ever encounter! The "new" guards will make their way down from their Barracks at Hyde Park, down the Mall and into the tiltyard, ready to swap over with the "old" guard who have been on duty the past 24 hours. They will either be the Long Guard or Short Guard; Long if the queen is in, and Short if the Queens out. For a long Guard, the regiment will be made up on an Officer, a Corporal Major who carries the Standard, 2 Non-Commissioned Officers, a trumpeter and 10 troopers (15 people) The Short Guard will consists of 2 Non-Commissioned Officers and 10 Troopers (12 people.
But whose who? The The Lifeguards wear a red tunic with a white plume in their helmet, and the Blue and Royals wear navy with a red plumed helmet, so pretty simple to remember.
An alternative time to visit the Tiltyard is at 4pm, to see the Dismounting Ceremony, better known as the Punishment Parade! This inspection dates back to 1894, when a passing Queen Victoria found no guards on duty when they should have been, on further inspection they were found drinking and gambling instead! She of course was not amused and as a punishment they had to be inspected everyday at 4pm for the next 100 years! (Yes 100 years are up, but it any excuse for some more British pageantry!).
For more information on the Household Cavalry museum visit their website here. The museum is open daily;
10am – 6pm April to October 10am – 5pm November to March (except Marathon Day, Easter Friday, and Christmas Eve-Boxing Day inclusive when we are closed all day).