Home Formation About us History Events Management

1859 - 1909

Although the formation of the Regiment goes back officially to the year 1859, it was preceded by a Volunteer Corps as early as 1798, when, in answer to the threat from France , the Corps of the Kensington Volunteer Association was enrolled. Presentation of Colours by the Duchess of Gloucester took place at an historic ceremony on Palace Green in May, 1799, immortalized in a painting by Frederick Countze, which now hangs in the Mayors Parlour at the Town Hall, Kensington. The Corps disbanded when the Treaty of Amiens was signed in 1802, but a year later the Kensington Corps of Volunteer Infantry was formed, which existed until 1814, under the command of Major Torriano.


The unbroken history of the Kensington Regiment - and its military successor 41 (PLK) Signal Squadron, dates from December, 1859, when the 4th Middlesex Volunteer Rifle Corps was formed by Lord Truro. Headquarters were in Islington, but in 1879, when Colonel Somers Lewis was commanding, the march westwards commenced to new headquarters in Swallow Street, Piccadilly. In 1885 a move was made to entirely new headquarters in Adam and Eve Mews in Kensington High Street. Rather than trust to the tender mercies of the War Office for a loan, the entire cost was raised by the Regiment and its supporters.

The sub-title of the Regiment was now "The West London Rifles"; they wore the famous grey uniform, with red facings and a black belt. In 1893, in open competition against five Guards battalions and twenty Volunteer units, "The West London Rifles" had the great distinction of winning The Daily Telegraph Cup at Bisley, a marching and rifle competition under strenuous conditions. The great cup, weighing one hundred and fifty-one ounces of solid silver, is still proudly held by the PLKR Association .


A section of the Regiment went to South Africa with the City Imperial Volunteers in 1900, resulting in the first Battle Honour, " South Africa , 1900-02." In 1905 the Regiment was "adopted" by the Royal Borough of Kensington, with permission to use the arms and motto - Quid nobis ardui - of the Royal Borough, and so became "The Kensington Rifles."

Far-reaching changes lay just ahead when, in 1908, all the old Volunteer units were swept away to make room for the new Territorial Force established by Lord Haldane. The 4th Middlesex (Kensington Rifles) and the 2nd (South) Middlesex were amalgamated to form the 13th County of London Regiment . The new unit adopted the uniform and headquarters of the 4th Middlesex. In the same year Her Royal Highness The Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll, who resided at Kensington Palace , graciously gave her consent to the use of her name to the new Regiment, and thereafter until her death, more than thirty years later, supported "Her Kensingtons" by both word and deed in all their many activities.


In 1909 the Regiment was made a "Line" regiment and received new Colours at the hands of HM King Edward VII at Windsor - one of ninety-eight sets presented by the King that day. The Colours were worked by enthusiastic ladies of Kensington under the personal supervision and encouragement of Her Royal Highness Princess Louise.