The night before the big day

Captain James Hulme of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment sums up the mood in barracks on the eve of the Royal Wedding.

Final rehearsals

Final rehearsals

Hyde Park Barracks, Knightsbridge, London
Thursday 28 April 2011, 2100hrs 

100 minutes of the hardest imaginable work, that’s pretty much what is left. Well, I never thought it would actually arrive. The Royal Wedding is finally around the corner for the Household Cavalry. I have to be careful not to breathe the sigh of relief yet, the main event is of course yet to take place. But the rehearsals are behind us, the kit is ready, and the horses are getting their final feed before getting some rest. Some lie down, other simply narrow their eyes and slumber.

The atmosphere at the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment tonight is electric. Street parties are heard over the perimeter walls of our barracks, whilst inside you can cut the air with a sword. Anxiousness, excitement, tiredness, relief (prematurely perhaps)… just some of the emotions and feelings that we all now share. And the real challenge is yet to come. The business that we’re in is quite strange I suppose; being soldiers, veterans, trying to tame animals to ride geometrically, whilst wearing some cumbersome kit. It’s not an easy job.

So today started at 0600hrs, the Regimental Watering Order went out to exercise the horses that little bit harder and further. 1hr 30mins of walk and trot around the streets of London. I even took my Troop past the entrance to Westminster Abbey, where tomorrow we shall be parked up, ready to Escort the carriages. I like to think we had that extra bit of swagger today in light of our up-and-coming role

At 1100hrs, I had William, my trusty charger for the last six months, tacked up and ready for his final assessment. Was he ready to ride on the big day? An OK was given by the Regimental Veterinary Officer and an OK also from the Riding Master. I don’t want to ‘set myself up for a fall’, and have done everything possible to ensure he is OK to ride. You might think it is barmy for me to take out a horse that has been rested for the last two weeks, but I think he’ll know what is expected from him.

Well I am glad to say that yes, William will now be wearing the smart shabraque and beard, just two of the accoutrements that mark out an officer’s charger. He will be riding through the world’s cameras tomorrow, I think he’ll do just fine. As for soldiers, they will be as smart and professional as they always are. I went around the kit cleaning rooms tonight. That little bit of extra care is going into their uniforms tonight. Jackboots were the shiniest that I’ve ever seen them, cuirasses and helmets like mirrors. Self-pride has really set in.

Media have been frantically trying to get their final scoops, and my phone’s battery lasted barely an hour with the call overload. I think the final ones that can be accommodated, have now been done and dusted. Now we just have to cope with live footage of the event itself, and only fate will decide the outcome of that one. 2 billion people will be watching apparently.

Hopefully I will be able to get online and tell you all how it went. In the British Army, we love after-action-reviews. Who knows, we might need points for when we do our next Royal Wedding, hopefully in the not too distant future.

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Captain James Hulme

14 thoughts on “The night before the big day

  1. It’s probably totally unnecessary to say it, but Good Luck to everybody tomorrow. I’ll be watching it as much for the horses as for the rest. 🙂


  2. HI I have enjoyed following your stories over the past weeks…..You do all the British people proud!

    Let me tell you are the envy of the world,very proffesional and hard working men.

    British expat living in Ontario Canada.

    Goog luck for tomorrow I will be watching from 3am EST time.

    Ann Turner


  3. We would like to wish all the troops all the very best for tomorrow. We will be watching on the BBC. You all look very smart. I’m sure you will be all a bit nervous, but as usual you will all do a great job and make the Royal Family very very proud of you all. You are all very smart in your uniforms, I saw clips of the rehersal yesterday morning on the BBC news, and I felt very proud of you all, as I said at the beginning all the very best for tomorrow, you will all be in our prayers, lots of love, Sharon & Rebekah Hunter, xxxxxxxxxxxxx


  4. Have the most amazing day everyone enjoy what you have practised hard for. We all know it will go to plan because the best in the world are performing it. God bless each and every single one of you. Im no longer in the army but love watching everything that goes on you all looked amazing in the rehersals. makes me remember what i’ve left behind even though I still live in salibury plain. love to you all xxxxxxxxxxxx


  5. Good luck tomorrow and I am I sure it will all go to plan and you will do the nation and the royal couple very proud xx


  6. Thank you so much for your colourful in-site into the household cavalry, here in western Australia it makes me feel very much a part of it all, you all do such a good job I am proud of you all, i hope the day gives you all great pleasure and pride after all the work you have put in and I hope to see William strutting his way around and that all the horses enjoy the day too. love you all Gillian (ex Army) Many years ago now ha ha enjoy!!!!


  7. To everyone taking part in the royal wedding enjoy it, you will do your country proud,
    good luck everyone not that you need it
    cant wait to see william strutting his stuff


  8. I will be wathcing and will feel proud to see my fathers regiment. He was always proud of being in the Household Cavalry, and I always remember him when I see you all in your splendour. Love and best wishes to all on this day.


  9. All night cleaning viduals accomplished.
    Now its time to buddy up, brush sticky tape and a final polish.

    Good luck to all let the public see the best and brightest


  10. I have total admiration, and confidence in everything that you all do, and I’m sure you will make everyone very proud.


  11. well done, great show, get those boots off and charge a glass or two to the happy couple. Looking forward to Her Majestys visit to cork. Thank You Again. Pat


  12. It was great to watch the HC on the Tele so much the past few weeks as you prepared and on the big day. Was proud to see you all!

    I was a cavalry officer in the US Army (7th Cavalry). We were a sister unit now twenty-five years ago when I was a platoon commander and 2IC. We trained in the states & at Windsor.

    Years later, met an old friend in New Zealand, who was at that time (2004/5?) the R1.

    Have held the HC (B&R’s & LG’s) special since those long lost days.

    As a subject of the crown and a yank, often called a Yankee Dootle Pohm, I’m proud to have an association and you all did smashing.

    Plan to move home in six years to London and see you live more often than I can now (about every two years).

    You did great guys!


  13. The BBC webiste said that it is a “private wedding” in the text about not inviting Blair and Brown.

    So I assume the bride’s father is fooitng the bill for ‘all the king’s horses and all the king’s men”, etc

    Not so you will say. It is the conned UK taxpayer


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