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The Blues and Royals' custom of saluting by hand even when bare headed, an act that could result in disciplinary action in any other regiment, originated in battle, most probably at Warburg in 1760. There The Blues' Colonel, the Marquis of Granby, is said to have lost both hat and wig in a wild cavalry charge before reporting to his commander-in-chief with a salute sans hat.

The warrant officers' and corporals' messes of the Life Guards have a tradition of hanging a 'brick' at Christmas time to symbolise the suspension of normal duties over the festive period. The custom dates back to 1888 when a forage master reportedly tossed a brick up onto the forage barn roof for much the same reason.


The 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards (1QDG) were formed in 1959 from two armoured regiments that could trace a lineage back to 1685. The standing enjoyed by cavalry regiments raised under James II secured for them the highest position in the army, second only to the Household Cavalry.

The Queen's title was visited on both regiments but settled on the 2nd in 1727 when their titular head, the Princess of Wales (Caroline of Anspach), became Queen to George II. The Dragoon Guards title came twenty years later, when the three senior regiments of horse were relegated to dragoons with the suffix 'Guards' added to preserve dignity.

1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards

Bay mounts used by the 2nd from 1767 played such a prominent part in the regiment's image that it was called 'The Bays'. In 1872 the nickname was upgraded to official title and Queen's Bays was used alongside 2nd Dragoon Guards thereafter. The 1st Dragoon Guards were known by their initials KDG.

Regimental headquarters are at Maindy Barracks in Cardiff, recruiting takes place in Wales and the border counties, and the term 'Welsh Tankies' has been used to describe 1QDG.


The all-blue peaked cap is mounted with an Austrian eagle badge, items of KDG origin. The double-headed eagle, worn as a collar badge in the KDG from 1896, came from the arms of the Emperor Franz Josef of Austria, the Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment at the time. In 1915 the badge was put aside because of Austria's part in the First World War, but was taken on again in 1938.

1QDG bandsmen at a cavalry memorial service in Hyde Park

1QDG bandsmen at a cavalry memorial service in Hyde Park, c. 1990. Note the ex-officer of the Regimental Association, left, with his 'uniform' bowler and rolled umbrella

The collar badge of the 1QDG is the word BAYS in Gothic script within a crowned wreath of bay leaves - formerly the badge of the Queen's Bays. Buttons are stamped with a Gothic Q over DG within the Garter on a crowned star.

Regimental full dress is heavy dragoon pattern: a brass helmet fitted with the scarlet plume of the KDG, a scarlet tunic with the blue facings of the KDG, and blue overalls with the white stripe worn by the Bays to complement their buff white facings adopted in 1855.

Simkin's painting of a private man in the 2nd Dragoon Guards on a bay mount

Simkin's painting of a private man in the 2nd Dragoon Guards on a bay mount, c. 1806

In barrack dress a regimental stable belt of royal blue may be worn.


The regimental slow march Queen's Dragoon Guards is accompanied by the quick march Radetsky/Rusty Buckles. Bandmaster Herr Schramm introduced Johann Strauss's Radetsky March to the KDG, probably because of its connection with the Austrian ruling family. 'Rusty Buckles' was a nickname for the Bays in the eighteenth century when the heavies spent long periods in Ireland. The new issue of horse brasses was missed and the regiment returned to England with irons rusted by decades of rainy conditions.


The regimental standard bears the cypher of Queen Caroline and the Bays' motto Pro Rege et Patria (For King and Country).

Waterloo/Gazala Day commemorates the regimental days of the KDG and the Bays together. At Waterloo surviving officers and sergeants of the 1st Dragoon Guards pooled their rations and dined together on the battlefield, a simple act of brotherhood the regiment turned into a tradition on Waterloo Day. Gazala Day honours the Bays' north African desert service, notably at the Cauldron and Knightsbridge, where they were in action with tanks for nineteen days continuously in the period 26 May - 21 June 1942.

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