Five officers from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) led Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral procession in London on Monday.
During the state funeral on September 19, the troop of officers from the RCMP Musical Ride marched at the head of the procession.
According to the RCMP’s riding master, Sgt. Maj. Scott Williamson, the Musical Ride had a “very special” and “quite personal” relationship with the late British monarch. In fact, Queen Elizabeth II specifically requested that riders from the group be included in her funeral procession.
Up to 32 members are part of the RCMP Musical Ride, but Williamson, Cst. Katy Loisel, Cpl. Justine Rogawski, Supt. Kevin Fahey and Cpl. Derek Quilley were chosen for the ceremony.
While Quilley helped assist the delegates, the other Mounties rode horses gifted to the Queen, with Williamson riding Darby, Loisel riding George, Rogawski riding Elizabeth, and Fahey riding Sir John.
“It’s a great honor to be a part of this and to have been selected,” said Loisel CBC News. “I never thought I could be here.”
Over the years, the RCMP and Queen Elizabeth II have maintained a close bond. During their royal visit to Canada in 1951, then-Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip saw a performance of the musical Ride in Regina. 46 men and horses were then sent to perform at her coronation in 1953.
During her 70-year reign, the Musical Ride gifted eight of her horses to Queen Elizabeth II. Among the first was Burmese, an all-black filly born in Saskatchewan in 1969.
For 18 years, the Queen rode Burmese during the Trooping the Color ceremony between 1969 and 1986. When the Burmese retired, she never rode another horse for the event.
Of the four horses that appeared at the state funeral, George, Sir John and Darby were trained and performed by the Musical Ride before being presented to the Queen. The fourth horse, Elizabeth, was given to the monarch on her Diamond Jubilee and was actually named after the Queen Mother.
While the four horses that appeared at the state funeral were gifts to Queen Elizabeth II, other members of the royal family have taken a liking to them: Charles rides George during Trooping the Color, while Princess Anne often rides Sir John.
People on social media were happy to see the horses and Canadian Mounties at the Queen’s funeral procession on Monday.
The Mounties were followed for the funeral procession by recipients of George Crosses, NHS staff, officers from the Police Service of Northern Ireland and departments of the Armed Forces. A total of seven groups marched.