George, an RCMP Musical Ride horse, given to The Queen
BERKSHIRE, England - First he was a star of the RCMP's Musical Ride, and now George, the black gelding from Pakenham, Ont., has joined the Queen's royal stables after a presentation full of pomp and ceremony on the grounds of Windsor Castle.
For only the fourth time in the force's history, a horse from the RCMP's Musical Ride was given to the Queen, as thousands of spectators attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show and Royal Tattoo Saturday.
The police service horse turns nine on Monday and stands 17 hands high and weighs 1,375 pounds. The horse follows three of his bloodline relatives in joining the Royal Mews. The Mounties presented The Queen with Burmese in 1969, Centenial in 1973 to mark the 100th anniversary of the RCMP, and Saint James in 1998 to celebrate the RCMPs 125th anniversary.
Thirteen members of the RCMP Pipes and Drums Band came onto the riding arena just before the finale of the Royal Tattoo and played "The Maple Leaf Forever". Then Saint James, the horse that the RCMP gave Her Majesty in 1998, and George, were ridden out into the field and approached the box where the Queen was seated. The Queen came forward was presented with the horse by RCMP Commissioner William Elliott with Canadian Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan and Canadian High Commissioner James Wright nearby.
The ceremony also featured a two-minute video, narrated by Canadian actor Leslie Nielsen, that included still images and video of the past presentation to the Queen of the other three RCMP horses. It also showed the Queen's presentation of a horse called Golden Jubilee to the Mounties in 2002 in honour of her Golden Jubilee year.
"I called Leslie Nielson. His father was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and he agreed to do the narration with his velvet voice. So it's a very, very Canadian night in the U.K. at the Royal Windsor Horse Show," said RCMP Superintendent Greg Peters in an interview Saturday.
The easygoing black horse with a white patch on his forehead was renamed George, in honour of the Queen's grandfather, King George V. But his previous name, Peters said, was Terror - a name chosen by a child in the Mounties' Name That Foal Contest back in 2000.
Peters said a child had written and said that one of the ships that doomed British explorer Sir John Franklin travelled with in his search for the Northwest Passage in the 1845 was named HMS Terror, so the horse was named Terror.
"We switched the name obviously from Terror to George," said Peters.