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  • 16
  • 30 mins
  • United Kingdom

The Household Cavalry comprises an extraordinary mix of men, animals and weaponry, combined in one unique regiment. For the last six months, film-makers have been allowed unprecedented access to Britain's most senior regiment.

The Life Guards and the Blues and Royals are the Queen's traditional bodyguards. One week they could be on horseback, escorting the Sovereign down The Mall; the next moment they might be patrolling downtown Basra in their tanks.

This major series provides the viewer with a fascinating insight into the regiment's ceremonial and military duties, as well as examining its 350 year history.

In the centre of London, only 100 yards from Harrods, nearly 250 horses spend their lives serving the Queen. Knightsbridge barracks is a constant hive of ceremonial activity. We follow the stories behind the year's ceremonial season of eight major parades.

The foreground scenes of parades may be familiar, but for the first time viewers will see in depth the effort, humour, anguish and hard work that goes into staging them. History, tradition and royalty form just part of the human and equine stories behind the 'Queen's Cavalry'.

Before they joined the regiment, 95% of all Household Cavalry troopers had never ridden before. We follow one ride of rookies through riding school. Arguably this is the army's toughest course. It's certainly the school of hard knocks as these 18 year-olds learn to ride and fall off from scratch. In only 16 weeks they are transformed from 'sacks of spuds' into accomplished troopers riding in full state kit - jackboots, plumed helmet and sword.

The other half of the Household Cavalry consists of the armoured regiment based in Windsor. This year we have been on manoeuvres with them; there is virtual warfare on Canada's Great Plains with Britain's main battle group. We look at street fighting, and the deadly art of fire fighting with live ammunition and real grenades.

8 episodes

1x01 The Big Event

  • Series Premiere

    no air date — 30 mins

Insight into the daily lives of the troopers of the Household Cavalry, the British Army's most senior regiments. The horsemen practice for the state opening of Parliament - an exercise that takes place during the dead of night. New recruits learn to ride the hard way at Windsor, and the armoured division gets into a fire fight with the Paras.

1x02 Grit, Spit And Polish

  • no air date — 30 mins

The Princess Elizabeth Cup sees troopers compete to be the smartest in the Household Cavalry. Recruits seeking promotion attend gruelling tests involving live rounds and grenades, and the trainee horse-riders attempt their first canter.

1x03 Just Another Day

  • no air date — 30 mins

A trooper is punished during the Queen's Life Guards' rigorous 4pm daily inspection, a ritual that began after a poor turn-out for Queen Victoria. The armoured regiment heads for Farnham and manages to get a tank lost in the town's one-way system, while the trainee horsemen start a kitty during their training - paying £5 every time they fall off.

1x04 Fully Armoured

  • no air date — 30 mins

The armoured divisions visit Canada for a mock battle, in which conditions are exactly as expected during a war - except lasers are used instead of live ammunition. Back in London, the trainee troopers don their breastplates as the ceremonial season begins, and prepare to guard the Queen for the first time.

1x05 Cavalry Black

  • no air date — 30 mins

Stories of famous horses from the regiment's past, including Sefton, the mount wounded by an IRA bomb. The newest equine member of the troop, Freddy, is gently handled when he is ridden for the first time. The trainee tank drivers' tests, however, are far more gruelling, as they take the vehicles cross-country while learning to drive for war.

1x06 Trooping The Colour

  • no air date — 30 mins

Princess Anne discusses preparations for the Queen's Birthday Parade, as the Knightsbridge Barracks undergo last-minute rehearsals. Meanwhile, the trainees in the riding school come under pressure as classes intensify, and their instructor struggles to ensure all candidates make the grade.

1x07 The Sharp End

  • no air date — 30 mins

The trainee troopers prepare for their final riding exam over one of the Army's toughest courses. Originally hopeless horseman Glenn is apprehensive - as is Adrian Van Loon, whose kit often fails to meet the rigorous standards. Gunners from the armoured regiment practise on the firing range with live ammunition, and the Household Cavalry's historian talks about their role in the battle of Waterloo.

1x08 Passing out

  • no air date — 30 mins

After passing their riding course - one of the toughest in the country - the new troopers graduate. The latest additions to the regiment parade in full ceremonial uniform to mark the occasion - but the last such outing of the season also provides a chance for the soldiers to reflect on fallen comrades in conflicts from World War Two to Iraq.