2nd Life Guards

The English King Charles II made a romantic escape from England to Belgium after his defeat by Cromwell at the Battle of Worcester on 3rd September 1651. On the conclusion of the Civil Wars (1642-51), many Royalist supporters fled the British Isles to join Charles in Exile.

These Royalist expatriates formed three "troops" of "Horse Guards" (see 1st Life Guards). When Charles II returned to England in 1660, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Troops of Horse Guards returned with him. Shortly thereafter, a 4th Troop of Horse Guards was raised in Edinburgh, and two troops of Horse Grenadier Guards were raised to augment the king's army. These troops subsequently formed a foundation for William III's army. During the War of Austrian Succession (1740-48), King George II personally led them in battle in Europe.

Reorganised in 1788, the 2nd Troop of Horse Guards and the 2nd Troop of Grenadier Guards were combined to form the 2nd Regiment of Life Guards with an establishment of 230 men based in London under the command of Lt. Col. Felix Buckley.

As a Regiment, the 2nd Life Guards fought on the Spanish peninsular against Napoleon's troops (Peninsula War 1807-1814) and at the Battle of Waterloo (1815) where the Regiment charged French Cuirassiers in a significant action which saved the British centre from being overrun.

After the defeat of Napoleon, the Regiment remained in London for a period of seventy years, during which they were responsible for protecting the monarch both in a ceremonial and also in a practical role. The ornate gateway on Whitehall which forms part of the Horse Guards Parade buildings remains the symbolic entrance to the St James's Palace and Buckingham Palace estates. A ceremonial guard has been mounted here since 1663, at which time Charles II had the first Horse Guards building constructed as a cavalry barracks.

In 1882, the Regiment sailed to Egypt (then a British protectorate) and took part in the Anglo-Egyptian War, returning to London after a brief campaign.

When, in October 1899, the Boers declared war on the British colony of South Africa, the Regiment embarked for Cape Town and served with distinction until the war's end (1902).