|Preobrazhensky Lifeguard Regiment|
— III —
Преображенский лейб-гвардии полк
2013–present as the 154th Preobrazhensky Independent Commandant's Regiment
|Country||Tsardom of Russia|
|Banner of the regiment|
|Badge of the regiment|
The Preobrazhensky Life-Guard Regiment (Russian: Преображенский лейб-гвардии полк, Preobrazhensky leyb-gvardii polk) was one of the oldest and most elite guard regiments of the Imperial Russian Army. Along with the Semyonovsky Regiment, the Preobrazhensky Regiment also served as a gendarmerie unit for the state Secret Chancellery (secret police) in the 18th century, headed by Prince Fyodor Romodanovsky.
The young Tsar Peter I of Russia (born 1672, r. 1682–1725) developed the regiment from 1683 onwards on the basis of his poteshnye voiska ("toy forces"), during the military games he conducted in the village of Preobrazhenskoye (now a district in Moscow). The Preobrazhensky Company of Peter's forces officially formed in 1687; it had expanded to become a regiment (Russian: полк, romanized: polk) by the 1690s. The Preobrazhensky Regiment distinguished itself during the Great Northern War of 1700–1721, the Patriotic War of 1812, and the Russo-Turkish War of 1877–1878.
The regiment operated as the body-guard of the Grand Duchess Yekaterina Alekseevna as well as the main supporter of her bloodless 1762 coup against her husband Emperor Peter III; having become Empress Catherine II (r. 1762–1796) she declared the Preobrazhensky highest in the order of military precedence from 14 July 1762.
In spite of its distinguished record, part of one battalion of the regiment mutinied in June 1906, at a time of general unrest in the Russian Empire. The mutiny was quickly suppressed and 190 soldiers sentenced to service in disciplinary battalions.
Colonel Alexander Kutepov (later a general) became the last commander of the regiment in April 1917; he disbanded the formation in December 1917 in the wake of the October Revolution of November 1917. In 2013 the regiment re-formed within the Russian Armed Forces as the 154th Preobrazhensky Independent Commandant's Regiment.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, officers of the Preobrazhensky Regiment were young Russian aristocrats and appointment was considered a proof of loyalty to the government and the tsar. Among its membership was the Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky.
After 1874 ordinary soldiers of the Preobrazhensky Regiment were mainly conscripts undertaking their obligation to serve for three years in the active army and fifteen years in the reserve (Opolchaniya). For the Preobrazhensky Regiment conscripts were selected for their height and fair hair (in order to provide a standardised appearance on parade).
The regimental flag was of St. George's colours, with the inscription: "For displayed feats in battle of Kulm 17th of August 1813". (29 August 1813 in the Julian calendar).
This colour was given to the regiment in order to celebrate its action at Kulm, where the outnumbered Preobrazhensky regiment withstood the charge of French troops.
Throughout its history the regiment wore the standard uniform of the Infantry of the Imperial Guard, which from 1683 to 1914 was predominantly of a dark green (eventually verging on black) colour. The main distinctions of the Preobrazhensky Regiment were the red facings (plastron, collar, cuffs and shoulder straps) edged in white piping. Distinctive regimental patterns of braid (litzen) were worn on the tunic collar, plus the tsar's monogram on the soldiers' shoulder straps and officers' epaulettes.
Following the Russo-Turkish War, the regiment was awarded a small bronze scroll to be worn as a battle-honour on shakos and other headdresses. In 1883, in recognition of its overall distinguished record, officers of the regiment were authorised to wear a large metal gorget inscribed "1683-1850-1883". A second model of gorget, designed in imitation of that worn during the 18th century was approved for the regiment in 1910.
An unusual feature of the Preobrazhensky Regiment was that it included a small detachment of sailors. Intended to commemorate a period during the reign of Peter the Great when the regiment served on board ship as temporary marines. This unit provided rowers for members of the Imperial Family when embarked on ceremonial barges on the Neva. The Preobrazhensky sailors wore naval dress, distinguished by orange stripes on the neck-collar.
Main article: Preobrazhensky Regiment March
The "Preobrazhensky Regiment March" (Russian: Марш Лейб-гвардии Преображенского полка) is one of the most famous Russian military marches. It was used as an unofficial national anthem in imperial times. The march has been often used in modern Russia, particularly in the annual Victory Day Parade for the trooping the colours and the inspection of troops.
Before World War I it was used as the presentation march in several military formations in Prussia Since 1964 it has used as the slow march of the Royal Marines.
Several lyrics are known for the march.