Life’s a beach as Household Cavalry swaps London duties for Norfolk surf

Members of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment ride their horses along the waters edge. Photographer: Cpl Danny Houghton RLC - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

The Knightsbridge based Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment has handed over their 24/7 duties as the Queen’s Life Guard in London and moved to Norfolk for July.

It’s the first time the British Army unit has been able to stand down from ceremonial mounted guard duties since the pandemic hit. This break is a very welcome one, not least for the Cavalry horses who were taken to the north Norfolk coast to enjoy the surf on Holkham beach.

The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery have taken on their daily duties as The Queen’s Life Guard in the heart of London. This means for three weeks for the Cavalry that mighty responsibility is lifted, and they can rest assured, everything is in safe hands.

The highlight for the Cavalry Troopers is the Beach Ride at Holkham where the normally immaculate horses get to become salt-soaked sea horses for the day.

Photographer: Cpl Danny Houghton RLC – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021

Major Tom Mountain, Squadron Leader of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment explained:

“The sea is a great environment for horses and riders to exercise in. It provides resistance that works muscles in the same way as pool Pilates and is a lot of fun into the bargain!”

The move to Norfolk isn’t a holiday, (horses and soldiers’ annual leave is staggered throughout the year). The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is using the wide-open spaces to practise equestrian and military skills, building bonds between horse and rider, and improving their prowess as professional fighting soldiers.

Tom added:

“Bringing them to the beach exposes the horses and riders to new things, helps with their confidence, and makes them and us more able to cope when we get back to London.”

The HCMR is world renowned for their immaculate State Ceremonial duties in London. Normally dressed in the most elaborate of ceremonial uniforms and gleaming with polish outside Horse Guards in Whitehall, horses and riders really were a world away from their daily duties as they rode bareback in shorts and t-shirt through the waves and rolled in the sand on Holkham Beach.

Despite the pandemic the past two years have been busy for the regiment. As well as providing The Queen’s Life Guard every day of the year, even through lockdown, they were an important part of the COVID Support Force. Troopers provided testing centres across London, and carried out tests for the public and key workers throughout the height of the pandemic. They were also heavily involved in the funeral for HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and the Queen’s Birthday Parade in Windsor last month.

Major Tom Mountain said:

“The horses and men have worked exceptionally hard this year in the demanding environment of London in COVID. To bring them to the peace and tranquillity of Norfolk gives us all a welcome change of scenery and a real opportunity to improve everyone’s riding abilities. Everyone is so much more relaxed. As the adage goes, a change really is as good as a rest!”

The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is the most senior Regiment in the British Army. All soldiers will also serve with the Household Cavalry Regiment whose primary role is operational. They serve frontline in armoured fighting vehicles and have always been at the forefront of Britain’s military operations including the Falklands (1982), the Gulf (1990), Bosnia, Kosovo and most recently in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Household Cavalry together with the five Foot Guards Regiments form the Household Division.

A member of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, paddles in the sea on horseback. Photographer: Cpl Danny Houghton RLC – UK MOD © Crown copyright 2021


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