Origins

In the year 1655 Oliver Cromwell formed an alliance with King Louis XIV of France against Spain. The exiled King Charles II of England, who had been spending his exile first with the French Court and later at Cologne now allied himself to the Spaniards in the Netherlands. He set up his headquarters in the Flemish city of Bruges and tried to raise an Army. Since Spain failed to provide sufficient money and arms, King Charles II could only form five Regiments which were raised in 1656. One of these, in which were collected some four hundred of the King's most loyal supporters, was commanded by Thomas Lord Wentworth. It was called 'The Royal Regiment of Guards'.

The campaign by Spain and her allies against France was unsuccessful. However, 'The Royal Regiment of Guards' played a valiant part in the Battle of the Dunes near Dunkirk in 1658. King Charles was restored to the English Throne in 1660, and landed in England on 25th May. One of his early commissions, dated 26th August, 1660 confirmed the establishment of 'The Royal Regiment of Guards' with Lord Wentworth as Colonel. The Regiment remained abroad forming part of the Garrison of Dunkirk until 1662 when it was brought home to England.

After his restoration King Charles II decided that, for his own personal protection, there should be a Regiment of Guards in England, in addition to 'The Royal Regiment of Guards' at Dunkirk. On 23rd November 1660, King Charles II commissioned Colonel John Russell to raise a Regiment of Foot Guards, the 'King's Regiment of Guards'. This Regiment consisted of twelve companies of one hundred men each.

In 1665, Lord Wentworth died. 'The Royal Regiment of Guards' was linked with the 'King's Regiment of Guards', in one establishment under the command of Colonel John Russell. The formal incorporation took place on 16th March 1665. The new Regiment consisted of twenty-four companies of one hundred men each, to which were added later four companies of Grenadiers. The new Regiment became known as the 'First Regiment of Foot Guards', a title which it retained until 1815 when it was granted its present title.

Full Title

The following is an extract from the 'London Gazette' of 29th July 1815, and explains the origin of the full title of the Regiment: 'His Royal Highness has also been pleased to approve of the First Regiment of Foot Guards being made a Regiment of Grenadiers and styled 'The First or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards' in commemoration of their having defeated the Grenadiers of the French Imperial Guard upon this memorable occasion'. (The occasion was the Battle of Waterloo).

The Grenadier Guards is the only Regiment of the British Army that has directly gained its title from the part it played in action. Since the Regiment won its name, the Grenade emblem has been worn as a badge on the forage cap, on the tunic and on the Colour of the Regiment to signify the Regiment's proud and courageous history. A new uniform embodying the Grenade was first worn at Christmas 1815.

On the 7th November 1920, approval was obtained to replace the Grenade on the shoulder straps with the Royal Cypher.