HEROES, OF THE
“The gin and tonic has saved more Englishmen’s lives, and minds, than all the doctors in the empire.” – Winston Churchil
The Horse Guards, part of the Household Cavalry, were originally formed in 1661 by King Charles II to provide him with the highest standard of personal protection.
Steeped in history, the regiment has attracted an array of intrepid and extraordinary characters throughout its lifetime, especially during the Age of Elegance, including Fred Burnaby, Christina Broom, John Shaw, Henry Paget and the Marquess of Granbury.
It’s their taste for adventure that’s inspired us and we, in turn, want to inspire you. We’ve shared just a few of our heroes’ stories on the following pages, and you can find out more about their endeavours at the Household Cavalry Museum itself.
One such character was Colonel Frederick Gustavus Burnaby (or, as we like to call him, Fred). A linguist, novelist and travel-obsessive, Fred was renowned throughout Victorian society for his rip-roaring feats of derring-do.
He was the first to make a hot-air balloon trip from England to France.
He defied a travel ban to ride into the heartland of Russian territory. A hero to the end, Fred died saving comrades on the battlefield.
A bear of a man, Corporal John Shaw was a celebrated boxing champion at home and abroad.
At over six feet tall, and weighing 15 stone, Shaw challenged any man in England to take him on… and dutifully beat every single opponent.
And it isn’t just the chaps who made history. Skip forward to the late 19th century and you’ll find the exceptional Christina Broom.
Appointed official photographer to the Household Cavalry division, with a darkroom in the Chelsea Barracks.
Christina was entirely self-taught and became the UK’s first female press photographer.
Henry Paget. The second Earl of Uxbridge, Paget commanded 13,000 Allied cavalry and 44 guns at the Battle of Waterloo.
Appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 4 January 1815, he led a spectacular charge of the British heavy cavalry at the Battle of Waterloo, but was wounded in the right leg by cannon fire.
Legend has it that Paget was close to the Duke of Wellington when he was struck, and exclaimed, “By God, sir, I’ve lost my leg!” — to which Wellington replied, “By God, sir, so you have!”
John Manners remains a hero and celebrated the country over.
While leading a spectacular charge at the Battle of Warburg, he lost his hat and wig forcing him to salute his commander without them, an incident still commemorated by the tradition that non-commissioned officers and troopers of the Blues and Royals are the only soldiers in the British Army who may salute without wearing head-dress.
The Marquess of Granby was a commander who actively cared for his soldiers welfare and encouraged retired troopers to set up as publicans. Today, there are many pubs named after him – why not visit one?