In 1759, it was decided to follow the example of continental armies and form regiments of light cavalry. It was thought that this cheaper form of cavalry would be better suited to conduct vedette, reconnaissance, scouting and flank guard duties. Thus, on the 4th of August 1759, Colonel Burgoyne was appointed commanding officer of the 16th Light Dragoons, a regiment to be raised in Northampton. He wrote his own recruiting poster, ending with: "You will be mounted on the finest horses ... Your society will be courted; You are admired by the Fair ... Young men out of employment or uncomfortable ... nick in instantly and enlist."
The Regiment's first foreign deployment came in 1762 when they were embarked for Portugal, with whom Britain was allied against the French and Spanish. The Regiment fought their first action at Valencia de Alcantara in Spain. Here, Burgoyne commanded the Regiment and a mixed brigade of British and Portuguese infantry. In this action the allied troops surprised and defeated a numerically superior force, capturing the commanding Spanish general, and destroying the Regiment of Seville. On their return to England, the new Regiment found that they had gained a considerable reputation for their exploits. As a result, in 1766 the Regiment was for the first time designated as a Royal regiment, being styled 16th "The Queen's" Light Dragoons, adopting Queen Charlotte's cipher, which to this day is a constituent part of The Queen's Royal Lancers 'Queen's Badge'.