The British Army’s Household Cavalry has marked the start of the ceremonial season as they were put through their paces in London’s Hyde Park.
Famed for its glittering breastplates and plumed helmets, the military unit paraded in front of Major General Ben Bathurst – the general officer commanding the household division – to prove their readiness for another summer of pageantry.
With more than 165 soldiers and horses taking part in the event on Thursday, they were joined by two French and two Danish counterparts from their equivalent mounted regiments.
Staff corporal Carl Lacey said the annual inspection is “immensely important”, adding that it is crucial to refresh the drills and process in the minds of the horses and soldiers.
“This is the precursor to the regiment going on parade in front of Her Majesty,” he said.
“The major general comes and gives us a tick in the box that he is happy with our turn out, the way that the horses look and are behaving.”
He said the inspection is as close to the format seen on the Queen’s birthday parade as possible, with the soldiers and horses replicating moves that will be performed.
With hundreds of hours of preparation leading up to the inspection, the mass of glinting metal and immaculately presented equines trotted across the grass in a display of military precision.
Based in Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, the mounted regiment of the Household Cavalry provides ceremonial troops for all state occasions including the opening of Parliament.
The cleaning and maintenance of the uniform and horses kit can take up to 10 hours – four hours for what the soldier or officer would wear, and five hours for the items worn by the horse.
Up to three kilograms of beeswax is used on the jackboots worn by the soldiers and can take seven hours per boot to polish up to their patent shine.