Green’s Dictionary of Slang

His Majesty’s bad bargain n.

also Her Majesty’s bad bargain, His Majesty’s hard bargain, king’s bad bargain, Queen’s bad bargain, ...bad shilling, ...hard bargain, Q.H.B.
[the quality of his service does not justify his pay]

a worthless soldier; a malingerer; a soldier jailed in a civilian prison; cites 1801 + 1843 refer to an officer in the East India Company.

[UK]Grose Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue n.p.: Bad bargain, one of his majesty’s bad bargains, a worthless soldier, a malingerer. [Ibid.] King’s bad bargain, one of the king’s bad bargains, a malingerer, or soldier who shirks his duty.
[Ind](ref. to 1764) G. Hadley & M. Fitrut Compendious Grammar (5 edn) 57: In 1764 a foolish officer (one of the Company’s hard bargains as they are emphatically called) would touch the pots in which they were cooking.
[UK]Lex. Balatronicum [as cit. 1785].
[UK]Egan Grose’s Classical Dict. of the Vulgar Tongue [as cit. 1785].
[UK]G. Croly Pride Shall Have a Fall V:2: You impudent man-milliner! — you thing of mummery and moustaches — you King’s bad bargain — you apology for a man.
[UK]F. Chamier Ben Brace (3 edn) 8: [of a sailor] We never were king’s hard bargains - fellows with short hair and long teeth, who [...] wonder why they don’t make prize money.
[Ind]Bellew Memoirs of a Griffin I 272: I must now attend to duty, or expose myself to be considered one of what are cantly denominated ‘John Company’s hard bargains’.
[US]J. Grant Phantom Regiment 247: ‘I was once nearly hanged by Wellington,’ said the Doctor [...] ‘Hanged,’ said Slingsby; ‘then you proved a King’s bad bargain, Doctor?’ ‘Not half so bad as you, Jack,’ retorted our old medico.
[UK]Cornhill Mag. Feb. 243: The younger Bohemians of my own service were a more polished breed... They were generally indeed, what used to be called Q.H.B.’s – Queen’s hard bargains – from a professional point of view .
[Aus]‘Puella’ Good at Last in Northern Argus (Clare, SA) 7 July 4/1: [H]e had gotten sick of the service and become, as barrack slang has it, one of the ‘Queen’s hard bargains’.
[US]Sat. Rev. 13 June 744/2: They called him the King’s hard bargain, and said ‘It's badly off we are for soldiers’.
[UK]M. Davitt Leaves from a Prison Diary I 145: Another and more frequent means of ‘fetching the farm’ is termed ‘faiking’ (malingering), and [...] is practised only by the lowest type of criminal, such as the pickpocket, bruiser, thief-cadger, and ‘Her Majesty’s bad bargains’ — as soldier-convicts are called by the other prisoners.
[UK]Tit-Bits 26 Ap. 35/1: A worthless character such as used to be called a Queen’s bad shilling, when men were enlisted with a shilling... He schemes into hospital... to get off a route march, a field-day, coal-carrying [F&H].
[UK]St Martin’s le Grand 4 295: There were collected all Her Majesty’s bad bargains, a numerous and grotesque band.
[UK]Daily Mail 13 Apr. 7/2: The Q.H.B. used to devote his attention to the Militia, but the Royal Artillery is now a favourite corps with him... Sent to so many different stations, the chances of detection are less [F&H].
B.M. Croker Peggy of the Bartons I 95: Goring, on the other hand, was one of her Majesty's ‘bad bargains,’ who merely regarded his work as a disagreeable interlude between polo, racing, gambling, and similar distractions.
[UK]J. Ware Passing Eng. of the Victorian Era 204/2: Queen’s bad bargain (Military). A recruit who turns out a bad soldier –from Queen’s shilling.