Mounties take over as Queen's personal bodyguard ... for a day
Tourists gather around as Royal Canadian Mounted Police Corporal Jennifer McRae, 28, from British Columbia, guards the Horse Guards Parade in central London on May 23. Queen Elizabeth has invited the Mounties to act as her personal bodyguard for several days this week. (AP)
PHOTO GALLERY: The Mounties in London
One of the most iconic symbols of Canada on the world-wide stage is the figure of the Canadian Mountie, clothed in scarlet and white and brown stetson. And preferably riding a horse.
Queen Elizabeth knows this well, and she has made sure the famed Canadian lawmen have a strong presence in her Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Last week, the RCMP's Musical Ride was part of a tribute pageant for the monarch's 60 years on the throne. This week, 15 members of the RCMP have been given the rare honour of acting as the Queen's personal bodyguard, a task that is usually handled by the Queen's Household Cavalry.
The highlight is the Changing of the Guard ceremony, a daily tourist-driving ceremony. On Wednesday and Friday this week, it is the Mounties who will be standing guard at Buckingham Palace.
The last time the Mounties were part of such regal ceremony in London was at the coronation of King George VI in 1937. And they are making history again with the first women participating in the Changing of the Guard.
While it's all about pomp and circumstance, and less about security, this duty is not without its rigours. Members of the Household Cavalry drilled the Mounties and their horses for this moment in the spotlight.
The RCMP and the Queen have had a long association, most notably through the shared love of horses. The Mounties have presented the monarch with four horses over the years, the most famous being Burmese. The Police Service Horse was given in 1969 and became the Queen's favourite horse. She rode him in the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony until 1986, when the horse was retired.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police and British LifeGuards ride together at Horse Guards Parade in London, on May 23, 2012, as the Canadians take part in the 'Changing of the Guard' ceremony. (AFP/GettyImages)