Foot guards

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Harald V, the King of Norway, inspects the Hans Majestet Kongens Garde with Dmitry Medvedev. The unit acts as foot guards for the Norwegian Army.

In some militaries, foot guards are senior infantry regiments.


The Governor General's Foot Guards is one of two active Foot Guards regiments in Canada.

Two foot guards regiments exist in the Canadian Army, the Governor General's Foot Guards and the Canadian Grenadier Guards. Her Majesty's Regiment of Canadian Guards was a regiment of the regular army, with four battalions, but was reduced to nil strength in 1968. Its Colours are in the safekeeping of the Governor General of Canada at Rideau Hall should it be desired to standup the Regiment again. Although the Governor General's Foot Guards has its buttons in pairs, compared to the single buttons of the Canadian Grenadier Guards, it is the more senior regiment; it is affiliated to the Coldstream Guards, and so wears a similar uniform.

Regiment Plume Plume colour Button spacing Collar badge Shoulder badge
Governor General's Foot Guards Left Scarlet Pairs GGFG Guards Star Maple Leaf
Canadian Grenadier Guards Left White Singly Grenade Grenade
Canadian Guards (reduced to nil strength) Left Red & White Singly Crowned Maple Branch Crowned Maple Branch


The foot guards of Denmark consists of the Royal Life Guards (Den Kongelige Livgarde)


The Guard Jaeger Regiment is a Finnish Army unit that provides a guard of honour for the President of Finland.

The Guard Jaeger Regiment (Finnish: Kaartin Jääkärirykmentti, Swedish: Gardesjägarregementet) is a Finnish Army unit located in Santahamina, an island district of Helsinki. The regiment trains Guard jaegers for fighting in an urban environment. The Military Police Company of the Guard Jaeger Regiment provides the ceremonial guard of honour for the President of Finland.


The first infantry regiment of the Republican Guard is responsible for protecting the President of France and for ceremonial duties. Other historical French foot guard regiments include:


The Wachbataillon performs ceremonial guard duty for the German Armed Forces.

The Wachbataillon perform ceremonial guard duty for various branches of the German government. In addition, there were five historical infantry regiments of Foot Guards (German: Garde-Regimenter zu Fuß) in the Royal Prussian Army until 1919. They included


The Brigade of the Guards is the Indian Army's foot guards regiment, formed through the regimentation of battalions from four of India's senior line infantry regiments.


The Grenadiers' and Rifles Guard Regiment is one of two guard regiments in the Netherlands.

The Garderegiment Grenadiers en Jagers & Garderegiment Fuseliers Prinses Irene are the two foot guard regiments in the Netherlands.


The foot guards of Norway consists of the Hans Majestet Kongens Garde (lit., His Majesty The King's Guard; the Royal Guards).


The Spanish Royal Guard escorting the Spanish royal family. The guard unit can trace its origins back to the Monteros de Espinosa.

Spain’s Guardia Real is one of the oldest bodyguard unit in the world. On top of protecting the king & deploying overseas, they also perform ceremonial duties.

Sri Lanka

The President's Guard is responsible for the security of the President of Sri Lanka.


Cavalry of the Swedish Life Guards. The duties of a Swedish Royal Guards are typically carried out by the Life Guards.

The Royal Guards is responsible for protection of the Swedish Royal Family. They are made up of the Life Guards.

United Kingdom


The Foot Guards are the Regular Infantry regiments of the Household Division of the British Army. There have been six active regiments of foot guards and one reserve regiment, five of which still exist. The Royal Guards Reserve Regiment was a reserve[1] formation of the Household Brigade in existence from 1900 to 1901. The Machine Gun Guards, which was formed during the First World War, was disbanded in 1920:

The Coldstream Guards engage the French at Hougoumont, during the Battle of Waterloo. The Guard is the oldest continuously serving regiment in the British Army's regular force.

While these regiments have other distinguishing features, a simple method of distinguishing members of the different Guards units by their appearance is by the spacing of buttons on the tunic. The ascending number of buttons also indicates the order in which the regiments were formed, although the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards, an ancestor of the Grenadier Guards, is younger than the regiment that now takes the name of the Coldstream Guards; the oldest continuously serving regiment in the regular British Army (there are older regiments in the Army Reserve). There are various other distinguishing features of the uniforms of the regiments, such as the colour of the plume, which side it is worn on the bearskin, the collar badge and the shoulder badge. When all five regiments parade together, they are in the order of Grenadier Guards on the right flank, then Scots Guards, Welsh Guards, Irish Guards and Coldstream Guards on the left flank. This is because although the Coldstream are ranked second in seniority, their motto is 'Nulli Secundus' ('Second to None').

The five regiments of Foot Guards, lined up as they parade

Regiment Grenadier Guards Scots Guards Welsh Guards Irish Guards Coldstream Guards
Plume Left N/A Left Right Right
Plume Colour White N/A White-Green-White Blue Red
Button Spacing Singly Threes Fives Fours Pairs
Collar Badge Grenade Thistle Leek Shamrock Garter Star
Shoulder Badge Royal Cypher Thistle Star Leek St Patrick Star Rose

Units of the Foot Guards

A group of foot guards drawn from the Household Infantry Division.

The first three regiments each have a separate incremental company, which keep custody of the colours and traditions of the currently dormant 2nd Battalions. These companies perform ceremonial and security duties in London.

British Foot Guards are appointed for public duties, such as mounting the Queen's Guard.

The Foot Guards have a role as the primary garrison for the capital, for the military security of the Sovereign, and for ceremonial duties in London and occasionally elsewhere. Two battalions are appointed for public duties, with a third from a line infantry regiment since 1996 (and occasionally previous to that year). These provide the Queen's Guard, the Tower of London Guard, and sometimes also the Windsor Castle Guard. The Guards Battalions on Public Duties are located in barracks close to Buckingham Palace for them to be able to reach the Palace very quickly in an emergency. In central London, a battalion is based at Wellington Barracks, Westminster, about 300 yards from Buckingham Palace. However, as of 2010, the independent incremental companies of the Grenadier and Coldstream Guards (all on permanent public duties) have been moved from Chelsea Barracks to the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich. While F Company, Scots Guards, are now permanently based at Wellington Barracks alongside the resident infantry battalion.

The Guards Battalion stationed at Windsor generally provides the Windsor Castle Guard. The Windsor battalion is at Victoria Barracks, a quarter of a mile south of the Castle.

The Guards Division received a new battalion following the restructuring of the army in 2004, when the London Regiment became the first ever Territorial Army Guards unit.

The Royal Guards Reserve Regiment was in existence during the Second Boer War from 1900 to 1901.

The Guards Machine Gun Regiment was raised for service during the First World War. Initially, each brigade of the Guards Division had a machine gun company attached. In 1917, these companies were regimented to form a battalion. Further battalions (the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions) were formed by conversion of the Household Cavalry regiments. King George V ordered that the regiment be classified as the Sixth Regiment of Foot Guards, or Machine Gun Guards. However, it was disbanded in 1920.

Before the Second World War, Guards recruits were required to be at least 5 feet 10 inches tall, they initially enlisted for seven years with the colours and a further five years with the reserve or four years and eight years. They trained at the Guards' Depot in Caterham, Surrey.[2]

In the future, the Foot Guards will serve in the ceremonial role, and the Reaction and Adaptable Forces.[3]

Lance-sergeants within Foot Guards

In the Foot Guards, all corporals are automatically appointed as lance-sergeants on their promotion; lance-sergeants perform the same duties as corporals in other regiments and are not acting sergeants, despite their name. They are however members of the Warrant Officer's and Sergeant's mess.

The appointment of lance-sergeant originated in the British Army and Royal Marines, as it could be removed by the soldier's commanding officer, unlike a full sergeant, who could only be demoted by court martial. Lance-sergeants first appeared in the nineteenth century, but[4] the practice was abolished in 1946, except in the Foot Guards and the Honourable Artillery Company. Both sergeants and lance-sergeants wear three rank chevrons, but in full dress, Foot Guards lance-sergeants are distinguished from full sergeants by their white chevrons and button loops (full sergeants wearing gold along with a red sash over the right shoulder).

United States

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment also known as "The Old Guard" is responsible for presidential escorts & ceremonial duties.


The State Defense Force of Connecticut has two companies of the Governor's Foot Guard, a part-time unit that provides ceremonial functions.

Other nations

Many other nations have regiments of foot guards in their armies, as the term 'guards' is an honorific to distinguish elite soldiers. Most monarchies have at least one regiment of guards, part of whose duties is to guard the Royal Family. The same goes for most republics; for instance:

Other countries that have Guards Units

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ War Office, His Majesty's Army, 1938
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-08-14. Retrieved 2013-03-12. pages 5 and 6
  4. ^ The earliest mentions of the appointment in the London Gazette and The Times are actually in connection with the Royal Marines in 1840. "No. 19904". The London Gazette. 13 October 1840. p. 2254.; "General Court-Martial at Woolwich", The Times, 2 June 1840.

External links

British and Commonwealth

  • Grenadier Guards
  • Coldstream Guards
  • Scots Guards
  • Irish Guards
  • Welsh Guards
  • Governor General's Foot Guards
  • The Canadian Grenadier Guards
  • Federation Guard
  • Brigade of the Guards

Other nations

  • Den Kongelige Livgarde
  • Högvakten
  • Hans Majestet Kongens Garde
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