THE RIGHT OF THE LINE

1. The honour of “The Right of the Line”, on a Land Forces parade, is held by the units of the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery when on parade with their guns. On dismounted parades, RCHA units take precedence over all other army units except formed bodies of Officer Cadets of the Royal Military College representing their college. RCA units parade to the left of units of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.

2. The artillery company of the Troupes de la Marine (formed in Quebec in 1750) was considered a “corps d’√©lite” and on parade took the position of honour at the right of the line. At about this time, the Royal Artillery was officially accorded the same honour. It has not been clearly established exactly when the Royal Artillery was first given its position on the right of the line but it was very likely in Flanders about 1742-1748. It is recorded that in 1742, at a camp at Lexden Heath near Colchester, “The Artillery on its own authority, moved from the left of the camp to the right, which was its customary place.”

3. In 1756, the matter was brought to official notice on a complaint by a Capt Pattison, whose company of artillery was denied its usual place on the right during a parade to witness the execution of a deserter. He based his claim on the custom in Flanders. The claim was upheld and the official letter on the subject concluded as follows:
“It is the Duke of Cumberland’s order that Colonel Bedford write to Capt Pattison and acquaint General Bland, it is His Royal Highness’ command that the Artillery take the right of all foot on all parades and likewise of Dragoons when dismounted”.

4. In 1773, at Gibraltar, the Commander Royal Artillery protested that the governor had changed the accepted order of precedence in parading the Guards. The protest was then taken to His Majesty King George III, who upheld the Gunners’ claim. The custom was again upheld in 1787 when it was questioned whether the Royal Irish Artillery should parade on the right or left of the Royal Military Artificers who were the next in order of precedence after the Royal Artillery. The answer to this question was: “The Royal Artillery to be on the right, either English or Irish, there is no exception.”

5. From its formation in 1793, the Royal Horse Artillery took precedence over all cavalry including the Household Cavalry, following the established precedence of the Foot Artillery over all infantry including the Foot Guards. This precedence was confirmed in 1804 but was modified by Her Majesty, Queen Victoria in 1868 so that the Royal Horse Artillery, when on parade with their guns, would take precedence over the Household Cavalry, who otherwise held the right of the line as part of the Body Guard of the Sovereign.