The Foot Guards are the Regular Infantry regiments of the Household Division of the British Army. There are five active regiments of the Foot Guards and one reserve regiment:
- Grenadier Guards
- Coldstream Guards
- Scots Guards
- Irish Guards
- Welsh Guards
- Royal Guards Reserve Regiment
A simple method to help distinguish between different Guards is by looking at the spacing of the buttons on their tunics.
Grenadier Guards – evenly spaced tunic buttons.
Coldstream Guards – paired tunic buttons.
Scots Guards – tunic buttons in groups of three.
Irish Guards – tunic buttons in groups of fours.
Welsh Guards – tunic buttons in groups of fives.
The ascending number of buttons also indicates the order in which the regiments were formed.
Various other features on the uniform help distinguish between regiments such as the plumes, the collar badge and the shoulder badge.
When the regiments all parade together they form up in the order of: Grenadier Guards on the right flank, then Scots Guards, Welsh Guards, Irish Guards and the Coldstream Guards on the left flank. This is due to their motto being ‘Nulli Secundus’ (Second to None)
The role of the Foot Guards is to act as the primary garrison for the capital and for ceremonial duties. Two battalions are appointed for public duties. They provide the Queen’s Guard, the Tower of London Guards and sometimes the Windsor Castle Guard. On Public Dates, the Guards Battalions are located in barracks close to Buckingham Palace.
In the future the Foot Guards will serve in a ceremonial role and the Reaction and Adaptable Forces.
There are many other Foot Guards in armies over the world. The term ‘Guards’ is considered an honorific term to distinguish elite soldiers. Most monarchies have at least one regiment of guards and their duties to guard the Royal Family.
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