Sunday, February 05, 2023

King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery

London The Unfinished City
A QF 13-pounder being fired in Green Park.

Anyone that has visited London while it is celebrating a Royal birthday, wedding, celebration or state visit, will no doubt have seen, if not heard, cannon being fired from one of the Royal Parks, HM Palace and Fortress at the Tower of London or another special site.

The gun salute is a ceremonial duty performed by the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery, who were created to perform this role, among other things, by King George VI.

London The Unfinished City
The King's Troop on Constitution Hill waiting to enter Green Park.

One of the most accessible places to view the gun salute is in Green Park, which allows you to see the Troop on Constitution Hill and then follow them charging in to Green Park and setting up.

London The Unfinished City
Preparing to fire the first shot of the gun salute.

If you ever get the chance to witness a gun salute... take it.

Brief History

Following the mechanisation of the artillery King George VI expressed a view that a horse artillery troop should be kept to take part in the great ceremonies of state. And so, on April 17, 1946, the Riding Troop was created.

This troop, of the Household Division, was barracked at Shoeburyness as a six-gun Royal Horse Artillery battery.

London The Unfinished City
Gun salute complete, the King's Troop head back to barracks.

On October 24, 1947 King George VI on inspecting the troop enacted a proclamation by amending the page on the visitors' book by crossing out the word 'Riding' and inserting 'King's'.

Following his death Queen Elizabeth II proclaimed that the name 'King's' would remain in honour of her father.

London The Unfinished City
Standing guard at Horse Guards Parade.

The King's Troop also mount the King's Life Guard, on Horse Guards Parade, every summer for 2–3 weeks, while the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment has a break to rest their horses and take part in summer training.

For 65 years the King's Troop were barracked at St John's Wood Barracks before it was relocated to the Royal Artillery Barracks, Woolwich, in February 2012.

Due to the greater distance, the troop no longer ride to central London, so vehicles transport there horses to central stables.

With females being able to join the troop, from 1996, they now make up roughly 40% of the 140 strong members.

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