25 days to go

Captain James Hulme
Captain James Hulme

The Life Guards and Blues & Royals of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment (HCMR) will be playing an important role in the wedding of HRH Prince William of Wales and Miss Catherine Middleton on 29 April. They will form a Sovereign’s Escort for Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and a Captain’s Escort for the Bride and Groom as the wedding party travel to Buckingham Palace from Westminster Abbey. This will involve almost 200 horses and soldiers on the day to escort and protect their carriages.

Captain James Hulme, Troop Leader and Unit Press Officer for HCMR will be blogging over the next few weeks as the Regiment prepares and rehearses for the big day.

I generally don’t like Mondays, and for this one, the worry was justified. An 0530hrs wake-up is never fun, and today it was particularly unwelcome – Officers had refresher training with the Riding Master, Captain Mark Avison, in the outdoor school. Riding for civilians can be very pleasant, but with the Household Cavalry at times, it requires intense concentration, discomfort and being shouted at… even when you’re a Captain.

This morning we were wearing ‘Military Review Order’, the order of dress that includes the ‘Albert Pattern’ helmets and plumes, the metal breastplate ‘cuirasses’, and the infamous jackboots. Yes it is uncomfortable, yes it is hard to ride in, yes it is difficult to get looking shiny. Please don’t underestimate the amount of time that goes into getting this kit ready, the boots might take 4 hours alone, each time you wear them! Brasso and black polish; we get through them by the bucket load. My horse William, elegant but extremely tricky to make behave, was being really bolshy. It was definitely a Monday morning for him too. Some people may have ‘dismounted’ earlier than they should have!

The rest of the Regiment exercised their horses (the cav blacks) around the streets of West London on what we call the daily ‘Watering Order’ – if you’re a Londoner you will probably have either seen or heard us early in the morning (even on Saturdays). I must admit that when I chose my Regiment at Sandhurst, I didn’t quite realise that it was an 0530hrs start kind of Regiment. Well, it’s the price you pay for the satisfaction of working with the horses, but also, in my opinion the best soldiers I’ve encountered in my five years working in the Army.

International media interest has also been intense recently, so I am definitely feeling the strain as the Unit Press Officer. At 1015hrs today, German camera crews from ARD turned up at Horse Guards to prepare their footage of the day, Germany always holding a big interest in our Army and the Royal Family. Americans are also fascinated, so I am trying to give NBC what they require too. It is quite a task getting the outside world to understand such a complex unit that has so many peculiar traditions that might not be understood. Some people don’t even realise that we’re Army, a particular bugbear of mine.

So preparations have already been arduous for the Royal Wedding, and will continue to be for the next 24 days. At the moment we practice pretty much every day, points that will be pertinent to this important event. Control of your horse, riding straight and dressed-off with your neighbour, precise and yet elegant sword drill, ‘carrying’ your plume, projecting your words of command… there is so much that goes into such a spectacle – it has all the drama of an opera. And before the Royal Wedding we have another parade to complete, the Major General’s Review, just to check all is in order – he shall not be disappointed!

I will take the opportunity to say a warm hello to the Household Cavalry Regiment soldiers and officers now serving in Afghanistan. D Squadron (Prince William’s old Squadron) are currently on patrol in Helmand Province, and doing a fine job in their Scimitars and Jackals. It has only been a year since I was there myself. Last year I was dusty and being shot at, now I’m on a horse, and hopefully very shiny. Such a role reversal is part of life in the dual-role Household Cavalry. With another long but colourful day completed, the countdown to the Royal Wedding gets ever shorter.

19 thoughts on “25 days to go

  1. dean dawson says:

    wishing you all a succesful parade as a ex-cavalry man myself i know the amount of work which goes in to the parade. Hope all goes well.


  2. joanne says:

    this is a very interesting post from a true soldier, from a regiment i am particularly interested in and would like to join in the near future after i have completed my equine management course, having an insight on what goes on in this regiment gives me detail on what is to be expected, and none of this is to put me off joining.


  3. teresa harvey says:

    My son is HCMR and on duty that day for the wedding. Am astounded at the preparation involved. It means my son can’t be home for his fathers 22 year party and his WO2 22 yr dine out. We are so dissapointed but very very proud of him.


  4. IanVisits says:

    A quick question about the rehearsals for the Royal Wedding Escort procession that takes place in the very early hours of the 27th April.

    Will that also include the carriages – or is it just the riders and horses checking out the route.

    In essence, is it something worth dragging myself into town at a most ungodly hour to photograph?




  5. greg ball says:

    we know it’s hard work but it does look sharp. we in canada wish the unit all the best . I also would like to
    wish god speed to D Squadron.
    Fior Go Bas -Irish Regiment of Canada


  6. Julian says:

    Most people probably have but little inkling of how much preparation is involved in such an undertaking. You men have my respect and admiration. Good luck!


  7. Arthur Ronald Thompson says:

    Well God Bless you all for maintaining such wonderful traditions,but Sir, the are dark clouds ahead for the Future and that has been brought about by Politicians.
    We only have to open are Eyes,and look around,for what once true Loyal English Men,have now been replace with this ever increasing tide flow of another Culture,that will soon turn this our Sovereign Kingdom into, Islamic Land UK.
    I wish you good fortune in the Preparation of this Royal occasion, and All the Best on the Wedding Day, and do take your sword with you,these are troubled times we are in.

    Respectively Yours, A R Thompson.


  8. Vanessa Watkins says:

    It’s only in the recent years I’ve found out the work that you all do as an army as well as preserving the history of our country on English soil. I’m sure that the both the dedication to perfection and all of your hard work will be so much appreciated, not just by England but the watching world! We can never thank our troops enough for the lives they risk on our behalf, we’re all very proud-whatever the role of your job takes.


  9. Lindy says:

    Thanks for taking the time to blog. We’re ex-pats, now living in Florida and I’m using your blog with my children, whom I homeschool. It’s a great way of taking them behind the scenes and learning just a little of the tremendous hard work that goes into preparing for such a big occasion. We’ll be looking out for you on TV on the wedding day!


  10. Derek Wood says:

    Captain Hulme.

    And how many Guardsmen ( besides doing their own kit ) to get your kit up to scratch ???? come come good Sir !!! Please do not tell me you do it all yourself . I wish D Squadron a safe tour of duty . even with all the” Bull “I think they would prefer to be getting the parade kit up to scratch rather than the tour .
    But knowing how well trained and disciplined you all are the job will be done with great aplomb . We are very proud of each and every one of you .


  11. jakelevi@tiscali.co.uk says:

    Great blog James, I’m looking forward to reading them all…..and it looks like doing the media course in October is paying off 🙂

    Sarah Smith


  12. pat says:

    i cant wait for the wedding, only the british army can do pagentry. your the best, dont worry about the early mornings it will be worth it on the day


  13. dolly says:

    good luck to all , although my granddaughters would like to see a bit more of their daddy, with all the rehearsals ! very proud mother-in-law , we’ll be watching,


  14. Kathleen Cure says:

    A huge undertaking but, as always things will turn out perfectly. Will be getting up at 5 a.m. in Nova Scotia, Canada. Good luck everyone


  15. Roger Stevens says:

    sir, please dont forget your comrades (the foot guards) they must pe there on the big day with you even if it is only street linning which in my opinion is one of the hardest jobs i did in the 9 QBP’s i did thank god it was only on one occassion.

    Enjoy the day one and all the real big occasions dont come around that often

    A proud welsh guard that was involved in the mountbatton funeral


  16. STEVE ROBINSON says:

    my son is in the life gaurds an will be doing the wedding hope all goes well .good luck to all the lads an have a good day everyone


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