Unit History: Dragoon Guards
Dragoon Guards was the designation used to refer to certain heavy cavalry regiments in the British Army from the 18th century onwards. While the Prussian and Russian armies of the same period included dragoon regiments amongst their respective Imperial Guards, different titles were applied to these units.
The British Army first used the designation in 1746, when the King's Own Regiment of Horse, the Queen's Own Royal Regiment of Horse (prior to 1727 the Princess of Wales's Own) and the 4th Horse were redesignated as the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Dragoon Guards respectively. In 1788 the four remaining regiments of Horse were converted into the 4th-7th Dragoon Guards.
The exercise of converting from "Horse" (heavy cavalry) to "Dragoon" (formerly mounted infantry) was intended to save money - Dragoons were paid less than Horse - and the change was very unpopular amongst the regiments affected. To compensate for the loss of pay and prestige the impressive title of "Dragoon Guards" was adopted. The Dragoon Guards remained as cavalry of the line and did not become Household troops in any sense.
In the British Army the regiments of Horse that were converted to Dragoon guards took precedence over all other cavalry regiments of the Line, which were at the exclusively dragoons. As the senior regiments they could not take numbers sequential with those of the existing dragoon regiments, so needed a new title and numbering system. Hence they were termed Dragoon Guards, the guards appellation giving them higher status, and allowing them to be numbered in their own sequence.
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