Boot and Saddle by JG Gilberd
Kings Troop - Royal Horse Artillery
The Troop is the only horse-drawn artillery unit in the British Army of today, and is stationed at St John's Wood, London. Its duties include the firing of Royal Salutes and taking part in State and other occasions as part of the Household Division. They are also required to provide a gun carriage and a team of black horses for State and Military funerals.
Before the Second World War there were horse artillery batteries stationed at Aldershot and in London. The last to be mechanised was 'K' Battery RHA - they lost their horses late in 1939. It was His Majesty George VI's express wish that after the War a Troop of the RHA mounted and dressed in traditional manner should once more be seen taking part in ceremonies of State. In 1947 George VI inspected the then Riding Troop (who had received their horses back the year before) and said that he wished it to be known as his Troop. Her Majesty has decided that this title shall continue during her reign in recognition of her father's special interest in the Troop.
To see Kings Troop firing a Royal Salute is one of the more spectacular forms of ceremonial to observe in London, 71 horses taking part, the officers and Soldiers resplendent in their full dress uniform.
Six 13-pr guns form up in line at Hyde Park and gallop into action. A salute of 41 guns is fired and as the last round echoes around the Park, the teams are brought up 'backed in' to their guns and gallop away.
Jim Gilberd, 1989