In a rare mother-son outing today, The Queen was joined by Prince Charles to meet the Household Cavalry’s newest drum horse.
At Hyde Park barracks, the Monarch and heir to the throne visited the mounted regiment of the famous Household Cavalry. It was The Queen’s job to official name the new drum horse: Perseus.
Perseus – named after the character from Greek mythology – is a nine-year-old bay coloured Shire horse and was ridden by Lance Corporal Richard Brown in full ceremonial dress; he is the joint most senior animal in the British Army as a major, like all horses that carry drummers.
The horse is tasked with holding the drummer and their two large drums for the regiment’s musical performances, usually at State Occasions like Trooping the Colour and the State Opening of Parliament. He is currently undergoing training for the role, which is intensive and specialised, and should be ready to pass out, as all officers do, at The Queen’s official 92nd birthday next June.
The Household Cavalry are, however, first and foremost, an operational regiment, ready for deployment. Earlier this year, they took part in Operation Temperer, supporting the police following recent terror attacks. The Blues and Royals and the Life Guards are the oldest and most senior regiments in the British Army
Commanding Officer Lt Col James Gaselee – whose family has connections with Prince Charles – asked Her Majesty to officially name the horse. She did so happily, wearing two brooches of the Household Cavalry regiments she was visiting.
Nick Gaselee (James’ father) trained Charles as an amateur jockey in the early 1980s, and his daughter, Sarah-Jane, was a bridesmaid at Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981.
The Queen was then shown into the stables, where she viewed some of the other horses, including one she gifted to the regiment a number of years ago.
Johnnie – pronounced Joanie – is a four-year-old horse the Sovereign gave to the Household Cavalry last year; she is being coached to be a charger for the Life Guards.
“She’s quite small”, The Queen remarked, but Lt Col Gaselee explained that she will grow in muscle and build with her training and increase in age. The horse was given a Polo by Her Majesty, and bared her teeth as she enjoyed it. “Horrid,” the Monarch remarked, to the laughter of the room.
Prince Charles, meanwhile, was shown the tack room, where the soldiers take care of their equipment. Of course, it must be kept at the highest standards, especially for use at the important events the regiment takes part in.
“How do you walk in those?” Charles asked of the soldiers’ thigh-high boots. “It’s very difficult, sir,” replied Trooper Fisher.
In the forge, The Prince of Wales learnt about the regiment’s apprentice programme for would-be farriers, chiming with his work at The Prince’s Trust, and in the stables, he was shown his son’s horse, Wellesley, a white charger which The Duke of Cambridge rides each year at Trooping the Colour.
It was then to the forge for Her Majesty, where she was shown horse Quinn, who had had his skeleton painted on to his coat in white paint. Major Harriet Church, the regiment’s vet, explained to The Queen how this helped teach the soldiers about the horse’s biology, and even how to give first aid, should the animal require it.
“It’s a very good idea,” the horse-loving Monarch said. “But does the paint come off?” She was informed it was water-based and non-toxic.
To end their visit, royal mother and son posed for a photograph with the regiment’s officers and warrant officers. We may see Prince Charles accompany The Queen more often, following Prince Philip’s retirement this summer.