The Queen's Body Guard
of the Yeomen of the Guar

Gentlemen at Arms
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This website is not an official Royal Household Site but
created and maintained by Yeoman William Norton





For more information regarding the Corps please contact:

Tim Rayson
The Axe Keeper
The Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms
St James's Palace
London SW1A 1BH
Tel: 0207 204 5594

Role of Honour - The Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners
Role of Honour - The Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms


Her Majesty's Body Guard of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms - the Sovereign's nearest Guard - was instituted by King Henry VIII in 1509.  However, until 17 March 1834 they were originally known as The Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners.  Henry decided to have 'this new and sumptuous Troop of Gentlemen composed of cadets of noble families and the highest order of gentry as his personal Body Guard or "Nearest Guard".  As his Body Guard it accompanied Henry to France in 1513 and took part in the Battle of Guinegate or better known as the Battle of the Spurs and in 1520 attended The King at the Field of the Cloth of Gold.

But for the Yeomen of the Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard and the Sergeants-at-Arms, the Gentlemen-at-Arms are the oldest corps in England.  At the time that the Gentlemen began conducting their duties on foot in Court, as well as mounted in the field, they carried the battle axe.

Today the Honourable Corps consist of 5 Officers and 27 Gentlemen, all of whom, with the exception of the Captain, are retired Officers of the Army or the Royal Marines and are members of the Royal Household. The Officers are promoted from amongst the Gentlemen and receive Sticks of Office from the hand of the Sovereign on appointment.  Their normal duties include attendance at all State Occasions and Services of the Great Orders of Chivalry.  The Corps has its headquarter in St James' Palace. This is the immediate charge of the 'Axe-Keeper and Butler' whose primary duty is to look after the battle axes which are still carried by the Gentlemen on duty. 

Dress for The Gentlemen-at-Arms:

COATEE - Scarlet Cloth, single-breasted.  Blue velvet collar, cuffs, and turn-backs on skirts.  Gold embroidery on collar and cuffs, with portcullis in silver on collar.  Gold embroidered wreath and crown and portcullis in silver on back skirts.  Nine buttons down front and two at waist behind.  Skirts lined blue silk.

BUTTONS - Gilt, indented. The Garter Star, and garter with the Tudor portcullis in the centre.

EPAULETTES - Gold bullion, boxed, bright gilt crescent rim, check lace strap.  Tudor portcullis in silver embroidery on shoulder-strap.  Badges of army rank in silver embroidery above.

AIGUILLETTES - For Officers only.  Gold gimp cord to hang from under the epaulettes on right shoulder.

TROUSERS - Blue cloth, with gold lace, bias and stand, 2 inch stripes, black leather foot straps.  For Officers: Oak leaf lace, 2 ½ inches wide.

HELMET - Gilt metal, with scroll and leaf ornaments.  Front ornament gilt Royal Arms quarterings within the garter, mounted on silver cut star.  Gilt chin-scales, with lion head bosses.

PLUME - White swan feathers, 18inches long, to hang to edge of helmet.

SWORD - Steel cavalry pattern, with steel scabbard.

SWORD KNOT - Gold bullion, with lace strap.

WAIST SASH - Gold, 2 ½ inches wide, with three red stripes 1/8 inch wide.  Gilt clasp on left side.  Tassels gold and red twist, with round heads, to hang 18 inches.

POUCH - Blue velvet, with Royal Cypher and crown in gold embroidery.  One inch gold lace round the edge.  For Officers: Wreath of oak leaves within the lace. Lace oak leaf pattern.

SHOULDER BELT - Gold 2¼ inch bias and stand lace, with blue velvet edge.  Gilt buckle, tip and slide.  For Officers: Oak leaf lace, 2½ inches wide.

SWORD SLINGS - Gold one inch bias and stand lace on blue leather, gilt flat square billet buckle on black web waist belt. For Officers: oak leaf lace.

BOOTS - Patent leather, Wellington, with spur boxes.

SPURS - Gilt, straight, long neck.

GLOVES - White patent leather gauntlets.

FORAGE CAP - Blue cloth, universal pattern, scarlet band 1 3/8 inches wide and scarlet welt. Blue cloth welt above band, black patent leather peak with one inch gold embroidery. Black patent leather chin strap with two gilt mounted ER buttons.

CLOAK AND CAPE - Blue cloth, double-breasted, six buttons each side, top ones 8 inches apart, bottom ones 4 inches, side edge no opening, 10 inches deep, 2¾ inches wide at points, with three buttons, two cross pockets with plain flaps 2½ inches deep, 6 inch Watteau pleat down back strap, 12 inches long.  Scarlet velvet collar and cuffs, cuffs 3½ inches deep and large enough to go over gauntlets.  Blue cloth shoulder straps, with Gold embroidered badges of rank.  Scarlet linings.  Blue cloth cape, three buttons down front, fly on collar to button on to cloak with five buttons.  For Officers: Gold oak leaf lace patch on collar, 6 inches long, with light of Blue velvet small button at outer end.

MESS DRESS - Evening Dress of His Majesty’s Household

The Captain of the Corps receives a Gold Stick of Office from the Sovereign on appointment; the Lieutenant, the Standard Bearer and the Clerk of the Cheque and Adjutant receiving Silver Sticks; these Sticks are carried by the Officers when on duty with the Corps.  The Sub-Officer carries an Ivory headed Stick which he receives from the Captain on appointment.

Captains of The Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners

1509 Henry, Earl of Essex KG 1695 Charles, Duke of St Albans KG
1539 Sir Anthony Browne KG 1712 Henry, Duke of Beaufort KG
1549 John, Lord Bray 1714 Charles, Duke of St Albans KG
1550 William, Marquess of Northampton KG 1726 William, Marquess of Hartington
1553 Thomas, Earl of Essex KG 1731 Richard, Earl of Burlington and Cork KG
1558 Henry, Lord Hunsdon KG 1734 John, Duke of Montagu KG & KB
1596 George, Lord Hunsdon KG 1740 Charles, Duke of Bolton KG
1603 Henry, Earl of Northumberland KG 1742 Allen, Lord Bathurst
1615 Thomas, Earl of Suffolk KG 1745 John, Lord Hobart KB
1616 Theophilus, Lord Howard de Walden KG 1756 John, Lord Berkeley of Stratton
1635 William, Earl of Salisbury KG 1762 George Henry, Earl of Lichfield
1643 Francis, Lord Dunsmore 1772 George, Lord Edgcumbe
*** William, Earl of Salisbury KG 1782 George, Lord Ferrers (de Ferrers)
1660 Thomas, Earl of Cleveland 1783 George Bussy, Earl of Jersey
1661 George, Earl of Norwich 1783 George, Lord Ferrers (de Ferrers)
1662 Thomas, Earl of Cleveland 1797 George Evelyn, Earl of Falmouth
1667 John, Lord Belasyse of Worlaby 1799 Heneage, Earl of Aylesford
1672 Thomas, Viscount Fauconberg 1804 George, Earl of Macclesfield
1674 Wentworth, Earl of Rosecommon 1806 George Richard, Viscount St John
1684 Robert, Earl of Searsdale 1808 Richard, Earl of Mount-Edgcumbe
1687 Theophilus, Earl of Huntingdon 1812 Jason George, Earl of Courtown
*** John, 3rd Lord Lovelace 1827 Henry, Viscount Hereford
1693 Ralph, Earl of Montagu 1830 Thomas, Lord Foley


Captains of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms

1834 Thomas Henry Foley,
4th Baron Foley
1907 Thomas Denman,
3rd Baron Denman
1834 Henry Devereux,
14th Viscount Hereford
1908 Edward Arthur Colebrooke,
1st Baron Colebrooke
1835 Thomas Henry Foley,
4th Baron Foley
1922 George Herbert Hyde Villiers
6th Earl of Clarendon
1841 John George Weld Weld-Forester,
2nd Baron Forester
1924 Labour Government
Post Vacant
1846 Thomas Henry Foley,
4th Baron Foley
1924 George Herbert Hyde Villiers,
6th Earl of Clarendon
1852 John William Montagu,
7th Earl of Sandwich G
1925 Ivor Miles Windsor-Clive
2nd Earl of Plymouth
1852 Thomas Henry Foley,
4th Baron Foley
1929 George Charles Bingham,
5th Earl of Lucan
1858 Henry John Chetwynd-Talbot,
3rd Earl Talbot
1929 Labour Government
Post Vacant
1859 Thomas Henry Foley,
4th Lord Foley G
1931 George Charles Bingham,
5th Earl of Lucan
1866 Charles Augustus Bennet,
6th Earl of Tankerville G
1940 Henry Snell,
1st Baron Snell
1867 William Alleyne Cecil,
3rd Marquess of Exeter
1944 Vacant
1868 Thomas Henry Foley,
4th Lord Foley G
1945 Hugh William Fortescue,
5th Earl of Fortescue
1869 George Augustus Constantine Phipps,
2nd Marquess of Normandy
1945 Charles George Ammon,
1st Baron Ammon
1871 Francis Thomas de Grey Cowper,
7th Earl Cowper
1949 George Robert Shepherd,
1st Baron Shepherd
1874 William Thomas Horner Fox-Strangeway,
4th Earl of Ilchester G
1951 Hugh William Fortescue,
5th Earl of Fortescue
1874 William Alleyne Cecil,
3rd Marquess of Exeter G
1957 Michael John Hicks-Beach,
2nd Earl St Aldwyn
1875 Charles Jonathan Chetwynd-Talbot,
19th Earl of Shrewsbury and Talbot G
1964 Malcolm Newton Shepherd,
2nd Baron Shepherd
1877 George William Coventry,
9th Earl of Coventry G
1967 Frank Beswick,
Baron Beswick
1880 Alexander William George Duff,
6th Earl of Fife G
1970 Michael John Hicks-Beach,
2nd Earl St Aldwyn
1881 Charles Gordon,
11th Marquess of Huntley G
1974 Annie Patricia Llewelyn-Davies,
Baroness Llewelyn-Davies
1881 Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington,
3rd Baron Carrington
1979 Bertram Stanley Mitford Bowyer,
2nd Baron Denham
1885 George William Coventry,
9th Earl of Coventry G
1991 Thomas Alexander Fermor-Hesketh,
3rd Baron Hesketh
1886 Charles Douglas Richard Hanbury-Tracy,
4th Baron Sudeley G
1993 Nicholas James Christopher Lowther,
2nd Viscount Ullswater
1886 George William Barrington,
7th Viscount Barrington G
1994 Thomas Galloway Dunlop du Roy de Blicquy Galbraith,
2nd Baron Strathclyde
1886 Robert St Clair-Erskine,
4th Earl of Rosslyn G
1997 Denis Victor Carter
Baron Carter
1890 Charles Alfred Worsley Anderson-Pelham,
4th Earl of Yarborough
2002 Bruce Joseph Grocott,
Baron Grocott
1892 George William Henry Venables-Vernon,
7th Baron Vernon
2008 Steven Bassam
Lord Bassam of Brighton
1894 Edwyn Francis Scudamore-Stanhope,
10th Earl of Chesterfield
2010 Joyce Anelay
Baroness Anelay of St Johns
1895 Henry Shutt,
2nd Baron Belper
2014 John Derek Taylor
Lord Taylor of Holbeach CBE
1905 William Lygon.
7th Earl Beauchamp

Full list of Gentlemen at Arms being compiled

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Last modified: Saturday, 03 September 2016 13:27