HORSE lovers from Pembrokeshire and beyond have been left devastated by the death of one of the county's equine stars, Celt the drum horse.

Just a week ago the Dyfed Shire Horse Farm in Eglwyswrw was planning to welcome Celt, a drum horse in the Queen's Household Cavalry, back to the farm for a visit later this month, but the gentle giant has died following an incident in transit.

Celt, was born on the Shire Horse Farm in Eglwyswrw in 2005 and began training with the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment in October 2008.

After his initial training at the defence animal training regiment in Melton Mowbray, he was then posted to Hyde Park Barracks, where he passed out of training in 2010 and began his life serving in the band of The Household Cavalry.

During his 11-year service Celt, whose official name in the cavalry was Mercury, delighted audiences from all over the world during ceremonial events including more than eight Trooping the Colour, the world-famous Musical Ride in Morocco and providing state escorts to national leaders.

Celt was believed to be the youngest shire to participate in Trooping the Colour and was known for his ability to understand commands in both Welsh and English.

In Eglwyswrw he was proudly celebrated, with the Shire Horse Farm's Cafe Celt named after him and proud tales of his origin and achievements related to visitors.

Since Celt's acceptance into the Household Cavalry two more horses from Pembrokeshire have followed in his hoof steps; Ed who was bought on impulse as a yearling in 2015 left to join the cavalry in 2019. Celt's niece Willa Rose began training for cavalry earlier this year and is on her way to making history as the first ever female drum horse.

The farm's royal connections led to a visit from Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2018, with the Duchess taking the reins during a carriage ride and naming the farm's new foal.

The royal connection was also the reason the Queen was asked, and accepted, to name the latest foal to be born on the farm; Guinevere who was born on the Queen's birthday, April 21, last year.

Celt, who died in the early hours of Tuesday morning, will return to the farm to be buried in his native soil.

A post from the Household Cavalry said that the veteran drum horse had been receiving constant veterinary care following an incident in transit between training activities. However, attempts to save the gentle giant were not successful.

"It is with the greatest possible sadness that that our beloved Celt passed away," said Dyfed Shire Horse farm owner, Huw Murphy.

"We thank the army for giving our boy such a marvellous life and for offering him the opportunity to serve his country for 13 years.

"We are so so proud of everything that he achieved in his astonishing life and know that Ed and Willa Rose will follow in his hallowed hoof steps in the years to come.

"We are devastated as a family as we know our friends and followers will be.

"But when he does return to the farm, we and the Army will give Major Mercury the final send-off that he so fittingly deserves."

A spokesperson for the Household Cavalry added:

"His [Celt's] presence would always astonish onlookers, both on display and in our yard. At 17.2 hands high and weighing 821kg, he was one of the largest horses in service with The British Army, with a gentle giant's personality to match."