King Charles’s mounted troops round on CO’s ’embarrassing’ blunder

King's Guard horse bites man as he stands to take a photo

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Members of the King’s mounted ceremonial battery mocked their Commanding Officer after she publicly struggled to mount her horse. A video showed Major Francesca Sykes of King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, squirming on her horse’s saddle during an event at Green Park in 2022. Attempts by two of her men to help ultimately failed, and while the event has now long passed, the footage continues to haunt the unit of expert riders.

The recording was taken as the battery prepared for the arrival of South African President Cyril Ramphosa in November last year.

In the video, Major Sykes’ horse moves during the first attempted mount, forcing her to disembark.

Two soldiers come to her aid, with one mounted rider holding the reins and another aiding her from the ground.

The video reportedly frustrated her colleagues, one of whom claimed it was “embarrassing” for the unit.

According to the Daily Mail, which first posted the video, some battery members have fallen out with one another.

They now allegedly aim to expose their leader’s perceived “shortcomings”.

Speaking to the publication, one source within the King’s Troop said soldiers who can’t vault a horse unassisted “don’t pass out of training”.

The source added that a uniformed warrant officer helped her launch onto her horse while wearing “formal attire”.

They claimed that, otherwise, the Major would “never have got up”, adding: “It is embarrassing.”

According to the Ministry of Defence, the Major’s required assistance was not unusual for military riders.

A spokesman for the department said it is “completely normal” for fellow unit members to offer their help.

They said that officers mount taller horses when riding with their teams so colleagues can see their hand signals during the parade.

Major Sykes has served as Commanding Officer of the King’s Troop since 2021 when she took over from Major Vicky Flood.

She has carried out vital duties since receiving the role, having participated in Queen Elizabeth II’s birthday parade last year.

Her unit accompanied King Charles III, then the Prince of Wales, who led from the front on horseback.

She also commanded the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery as it fired the Death Gun Salute in Hyde Park on September 9, marking the Queen’s death.

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