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Old 12-06-2010, 07:33 PM   #1
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Default Uniform of the Grenadier Guards' Drum Major

I've noticed the interesting colourful uniform of the drum majors of the guard regiments, specifically the uniform seen being worn by the Drum Major of the Band of the Grenadier Guards.


Could any of you knowledgeable drum majors out there explain anything about this uniform (i.e. history, uniform parts, significance, when it's worn, etc.)?

Thank you,
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Old 12-07-2010, 08:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Uniform of the Guards' Drum Majors

The uniform of the Guards Division Drum Majors, State Dress is unique to the Household Division.

In May 1660, the Restoration Procession for King Charles II, coming back from exile in Flanders, was held. The King was escorted by mounted fellow men with Kettledrums and Trumpeters. 'Mounted' meant that appropriate headgear against falling off was required, and thus the jockey cap was combined with the golden dress the men wore.

At the time, these loyal men who accompanied the King back to the Continent were regarded as King's Men. The Kings at the time of Charles II decided to put a Trumpeter and a Drummer in their own livery, in their own dress of the court (the golden tunic you see today as Court Dress). To continue that tradition, the Drum Major(s) on Parade wear State Dress.
Today, the Drum Majors on Parade wear the State Dress only when the Sovereign is on Parade, on the principal Royal Birthdays and Anniversaries and on ceremonies on which a member of the Royal Family is there (e.g. the wedding of the present Queen in 1947, openings of Parliament, Guards of Honour, ...) The State Dress is not a military uniform but in fact an ancient Court dress, which is translated in the display on the breast and back by the Royal Cypher, nowadays E II R.

And as you see with the State Dress, a crimson apron is worn; which has no real function, but as I said, it is part of the tradition, but was actually not worn in the Restoration Procession of 1660. The mace was by the way used make way for the marching soldiers with the drums and flutes.

Drum Majors wear State Dress because all Foot Guards Drum Majors hold warrants of appointment as personal drummers to Her Majesty. The Household Cavalry bands wear State Dress because at the time of the restoration and the formation of the standing army Parliament refused to vote any money to pay for trumpeters or kettle drummers for the Household Cavalry. Charles II paid for these himself (actually he twisted the arm of the Lord Mayor of London who provided the money, this is why to this day Household Cavalry bands wear State Dress in the presence of the Lord Mayor). As the funds had come from the Crown, these musicians were part of the Royal Household and not part of the army which is why they wore the royal livery. Obviously, today the Household Cavalry bands are paid for by MoD funds the same as the rest of the army but they still wear State Dress in the presence of the Sovereign and other members of the Royal Family.
The Drum Major is appointed a Household Drummer to the Sovereign and as such wears Her Majesty''s State Clothing during occasions of State Ceremony, such as Trooping the Colour. Such clothing is not military uniform but Royal Household Dress.

The version worn today is unchanged from that worn in 1901. The tunic alone is worth approximately 8,000.

The Drum Major''s staff, or ''mace'', has its roots in the 17th Century. One, dated 1671, is displayed at Armoury House in the City of London. The Drum Major''s elaborate cross belt, embellished with Battle Honours and the Regimental Cap Star, recalls the original leather drummer''s ''carriage'' worn by the senior or Sergeant Drummer to secure his drumsticks when not in use. To make room for various embellishments, the drummer''s sticks have become smaller but continue in the modern day to be a symbol of the Drum Major''s original appointment.

The above is a compilation of information concerning State Dress as worn by Drum Majors of the Guards Division.

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Old 12-11-2010, 08:38 AM   #3
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Default Re: Uniform of the Grenadier Guards' Drum Major

The tunic is actually of scarlet cloth, but that's hard to see under all the bullion lace and embroidery!

What look like white trousers are actually white 'spatterdashes' - the ancestor of our 'modern' white spats. These button up past mid-thigh and were formerly worn by all British Infantry. They are worn over scarlet breeches and originally served to keep pebbles out of the buckled shoe, and to keep the shoe on the foot
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