Friday, May 1, 2009

Royal Guardians Profile: The Royal Mounted Escort

Since independence the Belgian royals have been protected by a mounted escort during public outings and to this day the Royal Mounted Escort provides unmatched pomp and color on Belgian royal occasions. The ceremonial guard is today filled by members of the Federal Police General Reserves. The guard consists of 132 men and all ride home bred Belgian horses. Even horse color is kept uniform, varying with the duties each group of troopers is attached to. In the lead of the column is always the "front arrow" which consists of 3 detective inspectors who carry their lances horizontally to show that the monarch is present. 14 trumpet musicians come next, all on grey horses. The first company of two troops rides next followed by the standard-bearer of the Royal Mounted Escort who rides directly in front of the monarch flanked by two guards. The guard commander rides alongside the monarch on his right-hand side at all times. 2 detective inspector dispatch riders follow him to be ready at all times to pass information as needed. They are followed by the second company of two troops who are then followed by the 3 mounted detective inspectors of the rear arrow who, like all but the front arrow, carry their lances upright.
The Royal Mounted Escort wear old fashioned uniforms designed for them in 1938 when the guard was part of the gendarmerie. Their bearskin hats are their most distinguishing item of dress and it is considered an honor to wear them as the style has always been associated with elite troops. Although their primary duty on these occasions is the immediate protection of the King of the Belgians the men of the Mounted Escort are sometimes called upon for other duties such as helping out with crowd control, urban, woodland and coastal patrols whenever cavalry troops would be of use as a preventative force.

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