The Queen's Royal Lancers (QRL) were established in 1993 by the union of the 16th/5th Lancers ('The Vulgar Fraction') and the 17th/21st Lancers, both products of the 1922 mergers. The 5th (Royal Irish) Lancers were successors to the 5th (Royal Irish) Dragoons formed in the Siege of Enniskillen, honoured in Marlborough's wars, but disbanded in 1799 after insurgents had infiltrated its ranks during the Irish Rebellion of the previous year.
The Queen's Royal title came from the 16/5L, Queen's bestowed on the 16th Light Dragoons in 1766 for excellent service in Portugal. The Royal part was conferred on the 5th in 1704 for its part in the Battle of Blenheim. When the two were linked together in 1922 the 16th were given precedence in the new title because of the 5th Lancers' break in lineage, and therefore loss of seniority in the cavalry.
QRL headquarters are at the 17th/21st Lancers' Prince William of Gloucester Barracks near Grantham. The regimental museum is situated in nearby Belvoir Castle, once home to John Manners, who raised the 21st Light Dragoons in 1760.
17th Lancers re-enactment group in the review order of 1880-1900
The scarlet peaked cap, with its blue band and quarter welts (representing the four corners of the lancers' full dress cap), is 16/5 colouring. The cap badge is referred to as a motto - the skull and crossbones with the OR GLORY scroll of the 17th. It was first adopted for Hale's Light Horse as a memento mori, relating to the death of Gen Wolfe at Quebec in 1759. Col Hale was the officer entrusted with bringing the battle's dispatches back to the King, for which he was commissioned to raise his own regiment of light horse. Before long this became the 17th, the only cavalry unit in the Wolfe Society. The motto stands out among army badges and caused the 17th to be called 'The Death or Glory Boys'. Their nickname 'Tots' came in after the South African War of 1899-1902, from the Boer word for death's head - Totenkopf. Modern names for wearers of the motto range from 'The Boneheads' to 'Blackbeard's Mob'.
The collar badge is the same as that worn in the 16/5L from 1954, a C cypher within a Garter belt juxtaposed with a circle inscribed Quis separabit (Who shall separate us?) and containing an Irish harp and a crown, all on crossed lances. The C cypher belonged to Queen Charlotte, wife of George III and Queen of the 16th's title.
Except for the scarlet cap, No. 1 dress 'blues' are 17/21 in appearance: a double white stripe on the trousers/overalls and white gorget patches on the collar. Col Hale got the 17th into white facings from the outset to echo the facings of his former regiment, the 47th of Foot.
The scarlet mess jacket, an unusual colour for lancers to wear, dates back to 1832 when William IV attempted to have the whole army in red. The edict was rescinded in 1840 but the 16th Lancers were away in India and either missed or ignored the directive. When their tour of duty came to an end in 1846 Col Vandaleur asked permission of the Queen for his regiment to continue in scarlet and the 16th were known as 'The Scarlet Lancers' thereafter.
The regimental quick march, Stable Jacket, harks back to horse days, the slow march, Omdurman, to the battle where the 21st Lancers made their reputation in 1898.
Other marches in the QRL repertoire are The White Lancer and Wagner's Rienzi from the 17/21, and Queen Charlotte and Scarlet and Green from the 16/5. The Spanish National Anthem, Marcha Real, was played in honour of King Alphonso XIII, Colonel-in-Chief of the 16th Lancers from 1905 and of the 16th/5th until his death in 1941. During one memorable visit to the regiment the King arrived with his Sam Browne belt fastened with the cross-strap on back to front, and in order not to embarrass His Majesty all officers on parade were hastily instructed to change theirs to match. Ever since that occasion the officers have maintained the idiosyncrasy as a regimental custom.
The chief battle anniversaries are Blenheim (13 August), when the 5th remembered the prowess of their forebears in the 1704 conflict; Balaklava Day (25 October) for the 17th, the only lance regiment in the Charge of the Light Brigade; Khartoum Day (2 September), commemorating the battle of the 2nd Sudan War where the 21st fell upon a hidden horde of Dervishes, a much publicised episode at the time which resulted in their achieving the title 'The Empress of India's'.
Aliwal Day (28 January) celebrates the magnificent charge of the 16th Lancers on the Sikh artillery at the Battle of Aliwal on the Sutlej river in 1846, the culmination of the First Sikh War. After the battle lance pennons of the 16th were so encrusted with dried blood that they developed a 'concertina' effect, a symbol of the fighting the regiment exploited afterwards by crimping its pennons to simulate the effect. The QRL continue this custom and the Aliwal tradition of the 16th, who also held the reputation of having been the first to charge with the lance (at Bhurtpore in 1825) and the last (at Mons in 1918).
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