While writing a short item yesterday about the Queen opening the newly renovated Canada House in London, I wondered about the presence of red serge-clad RCMP officers on those iconic black horses. Sure, the government has spent hundreds of millions consolidating its diplomatic offices into the prestigious Trafalgar Square location, but why are there Musical Ride horses in Britain? And who paid for them?
That sent me down the rabbit hole that can be federal government media-relations departments. I started at Foreign Affairs, which sent me to the RCMP. It said that the high commission in London had requested mounted RCMP officers to attend the official opening but that the horses weren’t sent from Canada and there was no expense to the RCMP. So how did they get there, and who paid for them? The RCMP directed me back to, yup, Foreign Affairs.
By then, more than 30 hours has gone by since my initial request. The first story had long since been replaced on the front page of this website. Finally, an answer arrived at the end of business on Friday: The officers, plus the saddles, flew to London, courtesy of a donation by Air Canada.
And the horses? The Queen of Canada loaned the horses from her stables at Windsor Castle, free of charge. The royal mews even arranged for transportation to London and grooming services. And if anyone wondered why they looked exactly like Musical Ride horses, that’s not a coincidence. The animals were gifts from the famous equestrian troupe to the Queen. Their names are George and Elizabeth, which happen to be the names of Elizabeth II’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.
So, not only did the Queen open the refurbished building, but she provided the outside entertainment, as well.