Raised at Bruges, Holland, as the Royal Regiment of Guards in 1656, during Charles II’s exile, it was first commanded by the Earl of Rochester. Comprised of men loyal to the King who had followed him into exile, command passed to Thomas (5th Baron) Wentworth in 1658. It served as part of the Spanish Army during the Anglo-Spanish War in the Netherlands and saw action at the Battle of the Dunes (1658) under Wentworth, before accompanying the King home to his Restoration in 1660, the period when the musketeer in this print was serving. In 1665, it amalgamated with John Russell’s Regiment of Guards to form the 1st Regiment of Foot Guards and, following the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, it became the Grenadier Guards. The helmet, different from the pikeman’s pot, disappeared soon after, as did the buff coat over his shoulder. Intended to give the wearer the protection of an overcoat, it left his arms free to handle his weapon. His bandolier had twelve cartridges (the “Twelve Apostles”) and a bullet bag and priming horn filled with powder. The weapon is a matchlock, with a piece of slowmatch in place. In action the match would be lit. To avoid fumbling in his bullet bag, he would have two or three bullets ready in his mouth. The matchlock had problems: a match was visible to the enemy at night and might extinguish in bad weather, so it was replaced by the flintlock, which ignited powder by striking flint against a steel to cause a spark. The bandolier of cartridges was replaced by a cartouche box, or pouch. The musketeer has no sling to his weapon which was therefore always at the ready.
Sources: Painting at Hampton Court of the departure of Charles II from Holland, equipment in Guard Room at Hampton Court.