7th (Princess Royal's) Dragoon Guards

In the autumn of 1688, men from all parts of England were summoned from the villages and the towns to establish an army to defend the Protestant religion from a Roman Catholic king, James II. In what was termed the 'Glorious Revolution', seven English noblemen invited William of Orange to invade from Holland and assume the throne, and it was precisely to support this invasion that an army units were raised in the shires and counties of England. (The majority of James II's own troops subsequently swapped allegiance to support William.)

One of the most enthusiastic noblemen to support the Protestant cause was William Cavendish, 4th Earl of Devonshire (later Duke of Devonshire), who raised troops in his home county of Derbyshire and neighboring Nottinghamshire - as was the norm, these troops were named after their patron, thus Cavendish's Horse or alternatively the Earl of Devonshire's Regiment of Horse. By chance, Princess Anne (later Queen Anne), a Protestant, had fled from London to Nottingham and the Earl of Devonshire's troops had the honour of forming an escort for the young princess. Deserted by his army, James II fled to France without bloodshed and William, together with his wife Mary, assumed the throne of England, Scotland and Ireland.

In gratitude for their loyalty, by Royal Warrant dated 31st December 1688, the new king commissioned the Earl of Devonshire's Regiment of Horse to form part of his regular army. Apart from officers, the Regiment's establishment was set at 6 troops of 50 'private soldiers', each of whom was paid 2s.6d. per day, almost £1 per week - a very respectable sum. In practical day-to-day command of the Regiment was Lt. Col. John Coke.
A year after its inauguration, in 1689 the Regiment was equipped as 'cuirassiers', with breastplate armour.

In August of that year, the Regiment shipped to Ireland in response to James II landing there with an army. In Ireland, the Earl of Devonshire ceded the Colonelcy of the Regiment to the Count de Schomberg, son of the army's commander the Duke of Schomberg. Schomberg's Regiment of Horse formed part of the right wing of William's army at the Battle of the Boyne (1690). The Regiment returned to England in 1691. 1692 saw the Regiment shipped to Belgium, where they fought in most major battles including the Battle of d'Otignies (1693) and at the Siege of Namur (1695). In 1697, the Regiment returned to England and their armour was placed in storage.

After ten years of comparative peace in Southern England, the Regiment crossed the Channel once more in 1702 to join Marlborough's army in Belgium for the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-14). Marching to Germany, they fought at Schellenberg and Blenheim (1704). At Blenheim, the Regiment fought with distinction and lost a number of officers and men, with 56 horses killed. Fighting minor actions throughout the campaign in Holland, Germany and France, the Regiment fought the Battle of Ramilies in 1706. After years of campaigning on the Continent, the Regiment returned to Ireland in 1715. The Regiment remained in Ireland until the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48).

In 1742, the Regiment - at this point in time known as Ligonier's Regiment of Horse - landed once more in Belgium to serve in the army commanded by George II himself. The Regiment fought with conspicuous gallantry at Dettingen in 1743. (At Dettingen, the Regiment's standards were so badly damaged by French gunfire that they needed replacing, and the damaged standards were presented to the junior officers who had carried them during the course of the battle.) There followed a period of minor engagements until the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745.

In 1745 Charles Stuart, the Roman Catholic grandson of James II often referred to as 'Bonnie Prince Charley', landed in Scotland intent on challenging the English throne, and Ligonier's Regiment of Horse was one of the regiments hurried home to meet the new threat (the 'Second Jacobite Uprising').

The re-organisation of the army in 1746 saw the Regiment returned to Ireland and re-named the 4th Irish Horse. A Royal Warrant of July 1751 describes the uniform as 'scarlet with black facings . . . and buttons of yellow metal set two on two . . . hats ornamented with a yellow metal loop and a black cockade'. The Regiment remained in Ireland until the outbreak of the Seven Years War (1755-62).

In 1760, the Regiment shipped to Belgium and marched to Germany to join the army commanded by the Duke of Brunswick. After meritorious service during the war, the Regiment returned to Ireland in 1763 when the uniform underwent minor changes - the high 'jackboots' were replaced with lighter boots and remounts were provided with full, long tails to replace the horses with short, docked tails. (Bizarrely, 36 years later, in 1799, the horses' tails were ordered to be docked!)

Further re-organisation of the army in 1788 saw the Regiment renamed the 7th Princess Royal's Dragoon Guards, the royal patronage being granted in response to a request from the Colonel of the Regiment, General Hodgson, the Princess Royal at that time being 22 year-old Charlotte, eldest daughter of George III.

The Regiment was in Ireland when the Irish rebelled in 1798, as were consequently heavily engaged in policing duties throughout the rebellion.

At the turn of the century, the Regiment's establishment was 10 troops with 80 men per troop. In 1812, the cocked hats were replaced by helmets with horse-tail crests, and the Regiment moved constantly throughout England, Scotland and Ireland. In 1819, the bearskin crest helmet was introduced. For the next twenty years, the Regiment was heavily committed to domestic policing duties.

In 1843 the Regiment went to South Africa where they fought the Seventh Kaffir War (also referred to as the Xhosa War, 1846-47). At a skirmish on the Keiskamma River in 1846, the regimental silver was captured by the Xhosa tribesmen! The Regiment remained in the colony until 1849 and a significant proportion of soldiers chose to remain in South Africa as settlers rather than return to England.

The Regiment travelled to India in 1857 in response to the Mutiny, remaining there for ten years and returning to England in 1867. In 1882 they were sent overseas again in response to the Egyptian Revolution (1879-82) culminating in the battle of Tel El Kebir (1882). Returning to England, the Regiment has a short respite before travelling to India in 1891 and then to Egypt in 1893. Returning to England in 1894, the Regiment enjoyed six years of comparative peace before leaving for South Africa in 1900 under the command of Lt. Col. W H M Lowe.

At that time the Regiment totalled 24 officers, 565 men and 506 horses. They were in action throughout Boer War as part of the 4th Cavalry brigade (together with the 8th Hussars and the 14th Hussars) under command of General John French.