Saturday, 4 August 2007

The Household Cavalry Museum

I visited the Household Cavalry Museum today. This museum is located in the Horse Guards Palace.

The museum is a recent addition to the legions of museums in London. It opened to the public at the beginning of July. I was very happy that we happened to be here the month it opened. I don't think many people have discovered it yet, though.

In the museum, you learn interesting information about why things are done the way they are. For instance, did you know that the reason there is an inspection of the guards everyday at 4 pm is because Queen Victoria once surprised the guards and discovered them all drunk? After that, she insisted on a daily inspection. You also learn the differences between the uniforms and how the present day uniform came into being.

You get to see part of the working stables and a set of stalls (shown here) filled with interactive activities. In these stalls, you can take a quiz about the history of the Household Cavalry, a quiz about the horses, and a quiz about the men. In another stall, you can pick up pieces of the uniform to see how much they weigh. Across the room, you can touch the horses' tack. I liked comparing the saddles and bridles that they use on their horses and the ones I use on mine.

In the next room, there are display cases and explanations about the history of the Household Cavalry. It traced their origins in 1661 by Charles II until the current day. Many people do not realize that the Household Cavalry has two distinct roles. One is to guard the Queen on ceremonial occasions. The other is as an armored vehicle unit. This means that the Household Cavalry currently has soldiers fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.

At the very end of the exhibit, there were two video screens next to one another. Both of them showed the daily life of a member of the Household Cavalry. The twist was that one screen showed a day in Iraq and the other at the Horse Guards Palace. Both of them were showing at the same time and showed the same soldier going through his day. It was very moving.

This is a postcard from the museum's shop showing a little bit of the activities of a normal day. It takes them 10 hours to be ready for daily inspection.

I found it interesting to learn that, today, many of the new recruits don't know how to ride horses when they arrive. They must undergo rigorous training in order to be a member of the unit. This postcard shows a little bit about the training they must undertake.

This picture is from the 11 am changing of the guard.

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