The Household Division

The Household Division motto is Septem juncta in uno (Seven joined in one).

  • Household Cavalry (composed of the Life Guards and the Blues and Royals)
  • Foot Guards (composed of the Grenadier Guards, the Coldstream Guards, the Scots Guards, the Irish Guards, and the Welsh Guards)

The seven regiments that form the Household Division are all currently units of the regular army. In 2004, however, the Minister of Defence announced that the Foot Guards would gain a reserve (or Territorial Army) battalion, the London Regiment. The London Regiment are however neither Foot Guards nor household troops. The Household Division and the King's Troop, Royal Horse Artillery are collectively referred to as the Household Troops. They are under the command of the Major-General Commanding the Household Division, who is also General Officer Commanding London District. From 1950-1968, the term Household Brigade was used.

The connection with the Sovereign remains important ceremonially and operationally, and the Household Division provides both ceremonial and operational support for the Crown. One of the five Foot Guards regiments is selected each year to troop their colour before the Sovereign at Trooping the Colour annually in June. This ceremony includes march-pasts in slow and quick time, and is attended by the Household Troops. Orders for the Household Division are conveyed through the Royal Household to the Major-General via the Field Officer in Brigade Waiting (for the Foot Guards) and the Silver Stick in Waiting (for the Household Cavalry).

The Household Division provides two battalions and incremental companies at any one time tasked for public duties, which include the protection of the Sovereign. In the event of crisis or war it is believed that one of these would be responsible for protecting the person of the Sovereign and facilitating his or her evacuation if this were necessary. In the Second World War a special unit, known as Coats Mission, was entrusted with this latter task. In the 1960s, war plans apparently envisaged evacuating the Sovereign to the Royal Yacht Britannia. It would appear that, contrary to persistent rumour, there were no plans for the Sovereign to join the Prime Minister at the Corsham bunker complex known variously as Hawthorn or Turnstile.

Music and the British Household Division

Music is an essential component of ceremonial regimental life in the UK. Each of the five Foot Guards regiments has its own band and its own regimental quick and slow marches. These are on show in the Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace. Similarly, both the Household Cavalry regiments have their own mounted bands and also their own regimental quick and slow marches.

The Massed Bands and Massed Mounted Bands feature annually at Trooping the Colour. The term "Massed Bands" denotes the amalgamated bands of all five Foot Guards regiments, and numbers around 250 musicians. The term "Massed Mounted Bands" denotes the amalgamated bands of the two Household Cavalry regiments.

The mounted bands wear colourful state dress and black peaked equestrian caps. They are led by two musicians on large Shire horses used as drum horses. Since their hands are occupied with the drumsticks, they must work horses' reins with their feet.