PICTURE GALLERY: Household Cavalry soldiers at Holkham Beach

They have played major roles in the royal wedding, the Queen's birthday celebrations and the state visits of American president Barack Obama and the Sultan of Brunei in the last few months.

It's been a hectic ceremonial season for the Household Cavalry soldiers, some of which have also been carrying out operations in Afghanistan.

But for the last two days they have been swapping the bustling streets of London and the rugged terrain of the middle east for the white-gold sand and cooling sea water at a nationally-acclaimed Norfolk beach.

Yesterday the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment's Life Guards Squadron were undertaking their annual training day at Holkham Beach, on the north Norfolk coast and the Blues and Royals Squadron trained there on Thursday.

Captain Roly Spiller, adjutant of the HCMR, said: 'It's been a really long hard ceremonial season for these guys and they have worked incredibly hard.

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'We are first and foremost operational soldiers, which many people do not realise, and some of the more experienced soldiers have been serving in Afghanistan this year as well.

'We all love coming to Norfolk. The Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment has been coming here for 23 years now and it is something that we really look forward to.

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'Holkham Beach is a beautiful place for them to train and a well-earned treat for the soldiers and their horses.

'It is a change of scene from the streets of London where we usually work they benefit from improving their balance. Many of the horses will not have walked into the sea before so this all about them gaining the trust of the rider.

'It also a different experience for them to be riding bareback and without their regimental uniforms and the salt water and the sand is also very beneficial to the horses.'

Two hundred and twelve soldiers and 184 horses from the HCMR were involved in the royal wedding parade.

As the last line of defence they had a role in the security on the day.

Some of them formed a captain's escort for Prince William and Kate Middleton as they travelled in a horse-drawn coach and others formed a sovereign escort for the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh.

Mr Spiller said: 'The royal wedding day was a fantastic experience for us. It was truly memorable for these young men to play a major role in a historical day.

'I remember the moment when William and Kate came out of Westminster Abbey as man and wife. There was such a buzz of anticipation in the crowd beforehand and when they walked out there was an incredible roar that spread all the way down the road.

'It was also an incredible experience to be cheered along by the huge crowd as we rode back down the street.'

He added: 'One of our soldiers, Trooper Baker, who is not here today, even received a letter from William and Kate shortly after the wedding.

'His horse, Jeremiah, had slipped on the tarmac, causing him to fall to the ground. Instead of lying there wishing the ground would swallow him up, he kept hold of his helmet and sword, and jumped straight back up the horse and gained control.

'William and Kate witnessed this and they wrote to him congratulating him for showing such bravery and control in the situation.'

There were 50 soldiers and 31 horses at Holkham Beach yesterday and the HCMR is one-week into three-week stay at Bodney Camp near Swaffham.

The HCMR will be performing a show at the Holkham Country Fair.

See today's EDP Sunday supplement for a preview of the event and see Monday's EDP for full coverage from the fair.

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