Like many of my generation, as a child I adored the Royal Tournament, the Armed Forces’ annual circus at Earls Court: the Royal Navy’s field gun competition, King’s Troop’s musical ride, motorbike daredevilry and massed bands.
The Tournament was scrapped for more than a decade until it was revived last year, because more than 1,000 servicemen and women who took part could no longer be spared.
What was lost in that time was an inspiration to the young. In the same way, the sale of city centre barracks and parade grounds has removed soldiers from millions of civilians’ daily sight: they have become as distant as Martians.
The Ministry of Defence is now considering selling off Knightsbridge Barracks, presumably to a billionaire sheikh. The Household Cavalry would be trucked into central London to perform public duties, just like King’s Troop, evicted from their traditional home in St John’s Wood.