Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Life Guard Cavalryman

click photo to enlarge
Somewhere in the top ten photographs that are taken by visitors to London, sitting alongside the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Tower Bridge, a "bobby", and a red double-decker bus is one of the Household Cavalry outside the barracks at Whitehall. There are always at least two soldiers in ceremonial dress there, one on foot and the other mounted: sometimes there are more. In summer they display their metal breastplates and a lighter uniform, whilst winter brings the greatcoats. Passing through that area the other day I took my turn with the tourists thronging the guardsmen and got this photograph. It shows a member of the Life Guards, one of the two Household Cavalry regiments who act as the Queen's bodyguards, and (with the Blues & Royals) are the senior regiments of the British Army, their origins dating back to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Today the soldiers of this corps provide the army with three squadrons, one for mounted ceremonial duties, and two reconnaissance squadrons using Scimitar, Panther and Jackal armoured vehicles.

I've often thought that the ceremonial duties of such regiments must be a welcome break from the hazards of Iraq or Afghanistan. And yet, as I watched person after person standing next to the guardsmen to have their photographs taken, and child after child being lifted by their parents to pat the nose of the uncomplaining horse, it occurred to me that it requires training of a different sort (for man and beast!) to impassively endure the non-stop attention of the visiting hordes. And, with that thought in mind, I quickly composed my shot - at a distance - and departed.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40mm (80mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/125
ISO: 400
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On