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|Youth Club visit to the Kings Troop - Pictures and Text by Gordon Brown|
The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery is primarily a ceremonial unit of the British Army, quartered at Woolwich. It is a mounted unit and all of its soldiers are trained to care for and drive teams of six horses pulling each of six First World War-era 13-pounder field guns used today to fire salutes on state occasions.
It’s duties include the firing of royal salutes on royal anniversaries and state occasions and providing a gun carriage and team of black horses for state and military funerals. The unit is most often seen providing gun salutes on state occasions in Hyde Park and Green Park.
It was named The Kings Troop, Royal Horse Artillery in 1947 when King George VI decided that following the mechanization of the last batteries of horse-drawn artillery, a troop of horse artillery should be kept to take part in the great ceremonies of state and declared that the ceremonial Riding Troop of the Royal Horse of Artillery would be known as “The King Troop”. On her accession, Queen Elizabeth II declared that the name “The King’s Troop” would remain in honour of her father.
On 6 September 1997, the coffin of Diana, Princess of Wales was carried on a gun carriage by members of the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery. Every June since 1997 the King’s Troop has appeared on Horse Guards Parade to celebrate the Queen’s Official Birthday and then repairs to Green Park, adjacent to Buckingham Palace, firing a 41-gun salute, which is a 21 gun salute with additional 20 rounds fired because the gun position is in a Royal Park.
It was amazing to see how immaculately the site, its buildings and horses were kept and we also learned some interesting facts some of which were as follows:
There are 111 horses based on site
Every horse has its own Army number which is printed on their hoof
New horses are given names that begin with the first letter of the current Commanding Officer’s surname
Over one third of The King’s Troop is made up of female soldiers
When on parade with it’s guns, the King’s Troop takes precedence over all other Regiments in the British Army
The guns used in the display are 13 pounder’s which saw action in both world wars
The King’s Troop is the smallest military unit. Although primarily a mounted ceremonial regiment, it’s soldiers have a dual role and in recent years have deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq and provided security for the 2012 Olympic Games