With Royal wedding fever spreading across the country, hundreds are expected to line the streets of London and get caught up in the pomp and ceremony. By Elizabeth Pears, Voice-online.co.uk
All eyes will be on bride-to-be Kate Middleton, and The Dress, but on April 29, Met Police constable Jason Witham may be keeping a closer eye on things than most.
If chosen to be part of the prestigious Grey Escort – a special police guard on horseback – former chef Witham and his horse Fulham will help guide Prince William and Kate’s extravagant wedding procession to Westminster Abbey.
Crowds of cheering well-wishers waving banners and flags are anticipated and the escort is crucial to ensuring the happy occasion goes off without a hitch.
It will be some change from watching the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles on TV with his Jamaican parents at the family home in Enfield, to being the only black face in a handpicked group of the Mounted Branch’s best riders.
The father of two said:
“It never crossed my mind. Never did I think I would be involved in something like this. I am not banking on it, but it would be nice. It’s a one-off sort of thing. Fulham is absolutely the right horse for what will be a very busy day. He’s very solid and not easily spooked. If I see something on the side of the road, I know whether it is something he will react to and I can get prepared for it. To know the horse, and for them to know you, is the best thing.”
Although security and crowd control is at the top of the agenda, the Grey Escort, named after the grey-coated horses who form the contingent, will help add to the glamour of the day.
Preparation for the big day will mean a lot of shining, buffing and mane styling, and the chosen few have been practicing trotting in a line of four, in perfect synchrony.
Constable Witham joined the Met Police in 2002, and after a couple of years wanted to specialise in something. He felt that the Mounted Branch was the only thing that “rocked his boat.
With a negligible amount of previous riding experience, he successfully got through the arduous application process, underwent a gruelling 16-week course, and started work in November 2008.
He said: “I get a lot of comments every day, especially from black people who say they have never seen a black person on a horse. My answer is, ‘You have now’. That easily happens about 30 or 40 times a day. If I had a pound each time, I’d be rich.”