Page last updated at 17:23 GMT, Wednesday, 25 January 2006

Oldest regiment serves dual role

Trooping the Colour
The regiment provides the colourful Sovereign's Escort
The Household Cavalry is made up of both the Blues and Royals and the Life Guards - the oldest and most senior regiments in the British Army.

It can trace its origins to a force raised by Oliver Cromwell - the parliamentary officers were replaced by royalists in 1660.

Both regiments are split between two separate units equipped to perform different roles.

The Household Cavalry Regiment is deployed with armoured vehicles on military operations, while the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment performs ceremonial roles on horseback.

The Household Cavalry Regiment has been at the forefront of Britain's military operations in Northern Ireland, the Falklands, and the Gulf War.

The Household Cavalry Regiment in southern Iraq
The regiment has been on operational duty in Iraq

The regiment has been on operational duty with the UN and Nato in Bosnia and Kosovo, and, more recently, suffered casualties in Iraq.

The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment is tasked with protecting the Queen.

Troopers act daily as the Queen's Life Guard in Whitehall and are called upon for important state occasions.

The regiment provides the colourful Sovereign's Escort seen at state visits and the monarch's Trooping the Colour birthday parade every June.

Under the slogan "the best of both worlds", the home page of the Household Cavalry website now carries a single paragraph of text.

It reads: "The Household Cavalry welcomes applications from eligible candidates no matter what their marital status, race, ethnic religion or belief. It has a strict code of conduct covering racial discrimination and harassment."

But in 1995, the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) criticised the regiment for a recruitment policy that effectively "screened out" black soldiers.

Andrew Parker Bowles commanded the mounted soldiers for Charles and Diana's wedding
Andrew Parker Bowles commanded the soldiers for Diana's wedding

The CRE had been called in to investigate allegations of overt racism after Cpl Jake Malcolm's posting to the Life Guards was changed to an attachment to the Royal Tank Regiment when it was realised he was black.

He was later awarded 6,500 compensation.

A year later, Mark Campbell, the first black trooper to join the Household Cavalry, was discharged from the Life Guards on medical grounds.

He revealed he had faced taunts of "nigger", been handed a note saying "there is no black in the Union Jack" and had his bed soaked with urine.

Prince Charles has complained about the lack of black soldiers in the Household Cavalry and urged the regiment to recruit from ethnic minorities.

Prince Harry will not be joining the Life Guards - of which singer James Blunt was also once a member - he has opted for the Blues and Royals instead.

Finishing school

This is the regiment of Andrew Parker Bowles, the former husband of the Duchess of Cornwall, Harry's stepmother.

He trained and commanded the mounted soldiers and horses for Charles's wedding to Harry's mother Diana, Princess of Wales.

Diana's former lover James Hewitt also served in the Household Cavalry.

It is considered something of a finishing school for the elite after the familiar route through Eton and Sandhurst.

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See Prince Harry in training


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