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  • The ‘Royal Tiger’ badge was awarded as a lasting testimony to the exemplary conduct of the Regiment during its service in India
  • Sergeant Smith won the first Victoria Cross for the Regiment at Battle of the Great Redan in 1855
  • The Regiment fielded nineteen battalions during World War I

The original Leicester Tigers

The troubled days that marked the closing period of the reign of King James II saw the birth of what was to become The Royal Leicestershire Regiment. Colonel Solomon Richards was commissioned to raise a Regiment on 27th September 1688, which initially was named after him.

Service across Europe

After a brief period of service as Marines the Regiment joined the British Expeditionary Force which was sent to France. In 1695 it won special distinction and its first Battle Honour for the gallant part all ranks played in the siege of Namur, a strongly fortified town (in what is now Belgium) which was deemed impregnable.

They continued to serve with much credit in Flanders and took part in Marlborough’s campaigns fighting with great valour at Huy, Liege, Venloo and elsewhere. The Regiment was then sent to join the army of Lord Peterborough and at Almanza (Spain) in 1707 it fought until hardly a man was left standing. It was re-organised and employed in the defence of Catalonia, and in 1709 was brought home.

Regimental gallery 03
The Royal Leicestershire Regimental Galleries at Newarke Houses

Stationed in Canada and the American War of Independence

In 1725 the Regiment was sent to Minorca and remained there for twenty-four years. In 1751 it became titled the 17th Regiment of Foot. At the outbreak of the Seven Years War it was sent to Nova Scotia and took part in the famous siege and capture of Louisburg, Cape Breton in 1758. It had many more successes, defeating the French at Crown Point and Ticonderoga, and was present at the capture of Montreal in 1760 which transferred the sovereignty of Canada from France to Britain.

In 1761 the Regiment served with distinction in the West Indies, being present at the capture of Martinique, and subsequently at the capture of Havana.

At the commencement of the American War of Independence the Regiment was again sent across the Atlantic and landed in Boston on New Year’s Day 1776. It was actively engaged in many of the battles of this campaign. It was stationed in Nova Scotia and in Newfoundland until 1788, and in 1782 was renamed the 17th (Leicestershire) Regiment.

India connection

In 1804 the Regiment embarked for India where it was destined to win its much-prized badge of the ‘Royal Tiger’, super-scripted ‘Hindoostan’. For over eighteen years the Regiment took part in actions in India and helped to lay the foundation of the British Empire there. On leaving India in 1823 to return home the ‘Royal Tiger’ badge was awarded as a lasting testimony to the exemplary conduct of the Regiment during its service in India.

After a brief spell at home and in Australia the Regiment was back again in India in 1837 and took part in many campaigns. The Battle Honours of Scinde, Hyderabad, Kurrachee, Afghanistan, Ghuznee, and Khelat were proudly displayed on the Colours.

Regimental chapel
The Regimental Chapel at Leicester Cathedral

Great honours

From 1841 until after 1899, Battalions of the Regiment excelled and won great honours fighting in such diverse places as Aden and Gibraltar. When war with Russia broke out in 1855 the Regiment formed part of the army, which landed in the Crimea. There at Sevastopol, taking part in the fierce assaults on the Redan, Sergeant Smith won the first Victoria Cross for the Regiment.

It next saw service in Afghanistan in 1878-79, employed in the capture of the famous fortress of Ali Masjid, which guarded the Khyber Pass, and in the two expeditions into the Bazar Valley. In 1881 it was renamed The Leicestershire Regiment.

In 1899 the Regiment began another long spell of active service in the South African War, distinguishing itself at Talana Hill, and Ladysmith. After a brief rest it carried the war into the Orange Free State and the Transvaal, and was present at the storming of Laing’s Nek and the capture of Amersfort, Ermelo and Belfast, and in the operations around Lydenberg.

In the First World War the Regiment fielded nineteen Battalions, fighting in all theatres of war from France to Mesopotamia, winning three Victoria Crosses and earning thirty-seven Battle Honours.

Discover the timeline of the Leicestershire Regiment during the First World War.

In the Second World War six Battalions of The Leicesters served in theatres of war from Norway to Malaya earning twenty-two Battle Honours. For its outstanding contribution, in 1946 it was granted “Royal” status and became The Royal Leicestershire Regiment.

Post-WW II the Regiment saw service in Korea, Germany, Sudan, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Brunei, Borneo, Aden, Malta and Libya.

On 1 September 1964, The Royal Leicestershire Regiment was amalgamated into The Royal Anglian Regiment, with 1st Battalion of the former becoming 4th (Leicestershire) Battalion of the new Large Regiment of Infantry. The Royal Leicestershire Regiment (Territorial) ceased to exist in 1971. The heritage of Leicestershire’s County Regiment is currently carried forward by B (Leicestershire) Company 2nd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment and by 2 (Leicestershire and Lincolnshire) Company 3rd Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment (Army Reserve).

The Museum of The Royal Leicestershire Regiment forms part of Newarke Houses.

With thanks to Ray Cunningham MBE, Regimental General Committee.


Roman Leicester

(47- 500) A military fort was erected, attracting traders and a growing civilian community to Leicester (known as Ratae Corieltauvorum to the Romans). The town steadily grew throughout the reign of the Romans.

Tudor & Stuart Leicester

(1500 – 1700) The wool trade flourished in Leicester with one local, a former mayor named William Wigston, making his fortune. During the English Civil War a bloody battle was fought as the forces of King Charles I laid siege to the town.

Georgian Leicester

(1700 – 1837) The knitting industry had really stared to take hold and Leicester was fast becoming the main centre of hosiery manufacture in Britain. This new prosperity was reflected throughout the town with broader, paved streets lined with elegant brick buildings and genteel residences.

Victorian Leicester

(1837 – 1901) The industrial revolution had a huge effect on Leicester resulting in the population growing from 40,000 to 212,000 during this period. Many of Leicester's most iconic buildings were erected during this time as wealthy Victorians made their mark on the town.

Edwardian Leicester

(1901 – 1910) Electric trams came to the streets of Leicester and increased literacy among the citizens led to many becoming politicised. The famous 1905 ‘March of the Unemployed to London’ left from Leicester market when 30,000 people came to witness the historic event.

Modern Leicester

(1973 – present day) Industry was still thriving in the city during the 1970s, with the work opportunities attracting many immigrants from all over the world. While industry has declined in recent years, excellent transport links have made Leicester an attractive centre for many businesses. The City now has much to be proud of including its sporting achievements and the richness of its cultural heritage and diversity.

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