Need a leg-up, ma’am? Troops mock female CO struggling in the saddle for ceremony amid dissent in the ranks
- Major Francesca Sykes of King’s Troop was filmed struggling to mount her steed
- She needed soldiers to help her into the saddle before a ceremony in Green Park
- Members of the ceremonial unit are typically required to be expert equestrians
Troopers in King Charles’s mounted ceremonial battery have circulated a humiliating video of their commander failing to mount her charger.
The footage shows Major Francesca Sykes of King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, needing two soldiers to help her into the saddle before a ceremony in Green Park near ~ Buckingham Palace.
One holds the reins while another tries to push her on to the horse. The pair’s efforts fail however, to the annoyance of the assembled troops. An apparent falling-out with members of the unit has led to them trying to expose what they regard as her shortcomings as a rider.
The footage was recorded as King’s Troop helped mark the state visit of Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president in November 2022.
Major Francesca Sykes (right) leads The King’s Troop of the Royal Horse Artillery during a Trooping the Colour ceremony
Footage shows the commander needing two soldiers to help her into the saddle before a ceremony in Green Park near Buckingham Palace
An apparent falling-out with members of the unit has led to them trying to expose what they regard as Major Sykes’ (left) shortcomings as a rider
Members of the unit are supposed to be expert equestrians and spend hundreds of hours preparing for royal birthday parades, funerals and state visits. Although Major Sykes lacks height, her status dictates she rides a taller horse, around six feet in height.
However these problems have not stopped colleagues mocking her.
‘If you can’t vault a horse unassisted then you don’t pass out of training,’ said a King’s Troop source.
‘On the South African visit a warrant officer was given the job of marching to Major Sykes in his formal attire and helping her launch on to the horse. Otherwise she would never have got up. It is embarrassing.’
But a Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘It is completely normal for help to be offered when riders need assistance to mount their horses. Officers are provided with taller horses so their hand signals can be seen by the rest of the troop when on parade.’
Major Sykes assumed command of King’s Troop in 2021 from Major Vicky Flood. She has taken part in numerous high-profile events such as Trooping the Colour.