The regiment was raised as the second of the new regiments of light dragoons in 1759, also known as Burgoyne's Light Horse. In 1766 they were renamed after Queen Charlotte as the 2nd (or The Queen's) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons, the number being an attempt to create a new numbering system for the light dragoon regiments. However, the old system was quickly reestablished, with the regiment returning as the 16th (The Queen's) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons in 1769.
Shortly after its establishment the regiment saw combat in February 1761 against French forces garrisoning Belle Île. During the subsequent eight months the 16th Light Dragoons served as part of a British force campaigning against the Spanish.
The 16th Light Dragoons arrived in New York in September, 1776. They were involved in fighting at Brandywine, Paoli, and Monmouth Court House. The regiment returned to Britain in December, 1778.
During 1793-96 the 16th Light Dragoons served in the Low Countries during the early stages of the French Revolutionary Wars, distinguishing itself at the Battle of Beaumont. In Spain and France between 1809 and 1814 the regiment suffered 309 casualties in a series of separate encounters.
At Waterloo the regiment charged with Vandeleur's Cavalry Brigade. John Ormsby Vandeleur was appointed to the staff of the British army in Belgium. He was given the colonelcy of the 19th Light Dragoons on 12 January 1815. He commanded the 4th Cavalry Brigade, consisting of the 11th, 12th, and 16th light dragoons, at the Battle of Waterloo
After service in the First World War the regiment was re-titled as the 16th The Queen's Lancers in 1921 and amalgamated with the 5th Royal Irish Lancers to form the 16th/5th Lancers (later the 16th/5th The Queen's Royal Lancers) the following year- Part of a general reduction of mounted cavalry numbers in the British Army