Unsurprisingly, the uniforms of Household Cavalry bandsmen were unique. Each of the three regiments had uniforms that differed between them until 1883/4 when all the bands were required to adopt a similar style.

One uniform, however that was distinctive to Household troops was State Dress, which has always been worn by trumpeters, kettle-drummers and the bands when on parade in the presence of the Sovereign and the Royal Family. (It is also worn by Drum-Majors of the Foot Guards).

There was a form of State Dress worn by these musicians as early as 1691 and has differed little to the present day. The coat is of crimson velvet with blue velvet collar and cuffs overlaid with strips of broad gold lace (which mostly obscures the velvet). It is worn with a gold and crimson sword belt. The headdress is a dark blue velvet Jockey Cap with square peak and a slight turn up at the rear. The cap also dates back to the 1690s although it was replaced briefly in the mid-1700s by a tricorne hat made of beaver fur. Even more briefly, a gilt helmet with crest was worn between 1816 and 1820.

The only tangible differences during the years was the Royal Cypher and crown in gold lace worn on the front and back of the coat as shown in the image below. On all occasions whether mounted or on foot, the regular white breeches and jackboots were worn. (Kettle drummers may have worn knee boots because the jack boots interfered with the drums).


For normal occasions,the bands and trumpeters of all three regiments wore the helmet with scarlet plume and had done so since the introduction of the Albert pattern helmet in 1842. When the Life Guards amalgamated in 1922, they continued to wear the scarlet plume until 1951, when George VI ordered them to wear the white plumes of the rest of the regiment. However, this did not apply to trumpeters who continue to wear scarlet plumes to this day.
Uniforms until 1883

The 1st Life Guards.

From the early 1870s to 1883, the 1st Life Guards wore a tunic which was edged all round with wide gold lace and fastened in front by hooks and eyes. A row of small buttons (similar to a mess waistcoat) was worn down the front. The cuffs were round, edged on top by a band of gold lace and, according to G.R. Lawn from his excellent book, “Music in State Clothing”, a row of Russia braid eyes were placed above the gold lace. The collar was edged top and bottom in the same gold lace with a single row of Russia braid eyes centred. The shoulder straps were blue edged gold with a lace “1” on the strap. The rear skirts had a three pointed flap on each side with a button at each point and two at the waist.

The 2nd Life Guards.

Photographs in the 1870s show a tunic edged in narrow gold lace with a distinctive cutaway on the front skirts. Gauntlet blue cuffs were edged at the top, bottom and rear with gold lace and gold Russia braid eyes inside the lace. The blue collar was also edged above and below with gold lace and a single row of eyes in the centre. Gold lace twisted shoulder cords were worn with trefoil ends. The rear skirts had three pointed flaps edged in thin gold lace and no buttons on the points. There were two buttons at the waist.

The Royal Horse Guards.

There is little photographic evidence of uniforms worn by the band of the Royal Horse Guards before 1883. It is possible that the uniform was similar to the 2nd Life Guards with no skirt cutaway.

Uniforms from 1884.

From 1884, all three bands wore essentially the same uniform with elements largely adopted from the 2nd Life Guards. In about 1885/6 the collar became deeper and the braided eyes appeared all round the inside.

The only badge worn on these uniforms were those of trumpeters. The Trumpet-Major (as he was later called) wore his badge below the elbow. It should be noted that trumpeters of all three regiments wore gauntlets on all mounted and dismounted parades where all ranks were doing so.

Photographs show the 2nd Life Guards band wearing large white pouches on their shoulder belts from 1895 to 1902. Small white pouches were once worn on the waist belt at the right from 1874 to 1880.


Although bandmasters were designated Warrant Officers 1st class in 1881, they appear to have worn officers’ uniforms, including regimental helmet plumes with white pouch and shoulder belts. Aiguillettes were worn from the right shoulder. Even though they were authorised to wear the Bandmaster badge in 1898, they apparently never did so.


From the eighteen sixties, bandsmen of the Household Cavalry wore blue, scarlet banded round caps with peaks. The crown and cap-band (above and below) acquired gold piping during the 1870s. In 1883, the peaked caps were abolished and pillbox caps, similarly piped were adopted.
Corporals-of-Horse and above were wearing forage cap lace and Albert crown the same as the NCOs in the regiments by the early 1890s.

Stable Jackets

The stable jackets of all three regiments had been standardised since the mid-1870s. It was piped all round with gold lace and there were trefoils on the cuffs and around the collar. The rear seams of the jacket also was laced terminated with trefoils at the shoulder. Gold lace shoulder cords were worn. (G.R. Lawn states that the cuffs and rear seam ends had Austrian Knots but there is no evidence of that).

The trousers worn by all three regiments were as worn by the whole regiment. When blue frocks were issued in the 1890s, the band adopted them without any particular modifications.