The Royal Family and the RCMP
The link between the RCMP and the Royal Family is as obvious as our name: Royal Canadian Mounted Police. But the connection is deeper and more personal than just a name and traces back over a century.
On this page
- The Royal history of the RCMP
- The role of the Royal Family and the RCMP
- Tradition of gifting horses
- Timeline of Royal interactions
The Royal history of the RCMP
The first interaction between the North-West Mounted Police and the Royal Family happened in 1897. That year, the mounted police paraded in London, England, for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. That set off a relationship that has lasted over a century.
In 1904, the reigning monarch solidified our relationship even further. That's when King Edward VII conferred the title of Royal to the organization. That created the Royal North-West Mounted Police. He did this to recognize our 30-year policing role in the Northwest and Yukon Territories.
In 1920, the Royal North-West Mounted Police absorbed the Dominion Police. As part of the change, it also changed its name to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Our relationship with the Royal Family has remained strong in the century since then.
The role of the Royal Family and the RCMP
Many members of the Royal Family hold honorary titles in the RCMP. Their appointments have established the tradition of all RCMP honorary appointments being Royal Family members. This further speaks to their close personal relationship with us.
Note that not all members of the Royal Family have honorary roles or titles. This includes Their Royal Highnesses The Prince and Princess of Wales.
His Majesty King Charles III
The King is the current Honorary Commissioner of the RCMP. He accepted the title on May 23, 2012, during a visit to Depot Division (then as The Prince of Wales).
He replaced his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, who became Commissioner-in-Chief of the RCMP.
Since 1920, this title has been similar to the role of Honorary Colonel in the Canadian Army. This person:
- is seen as the guardian of regimental traditions and history
- promotes the regiment's identity and ethos
- is an advisor to the Commanding Officer on almost all issues, except operations
- receives updates on all important activities
- makes occasional visits to operational units
Did you know?
All 4 Honorary Commissioners in our history have been Royals: Prince Edward (later King Edward VIII), 1920-1937; King George VI, 1937-1952; Queen Elizabeth II, 1953-2012; and The Prince of Wales (now His Majesty King Charles III), 2012-present.
His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex
The Earl of Wessex is 1 of 2 Honorary Deputy Commissioners of the RCMP. He accepted the title on October 12, 2007, at our Annual Regimental Dinner.
The role of Honorary Deputy Commissioner is a new tradition. It carries no official duties beyond a direct relationship with the RCMP.
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal
The Princess Royal is the other Honorary Deputy Commissioner of the RCMP. She accepted the title on November 11, 2014, at the Musical Ride Centre in Ottawa.
Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II was the only Commissioner-in-Chief of the RCMP in our history. She accepted the title on May 10, 2012 during her Diamond Jubilee.
The title of Commissioner-in-Chief is similar to a Colonel-in-Chief in the Army. This person is usually a member of the Royal Family and acts as the Patron of the unit.
A Colonel-in-Chief receives information on all important activities. They also make occasional visits to operational units, but have no operational role.
Before accepting this title, Queen Elizabeth II had been Honorary Commissioner of the RCMP since 1953.
Tradition of gifting horses
For over 50 years, we maintained a tradition of gifting horses to Queen Elizabeth II. In turn, we also received horses from her.
Gifts to Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II took a keen interest in horses and knew much about them. We presented her with 8 horses as gifts.
In the autumn of 1968,Staff Sergeant Ralph Cave, the RCMP's riding master in Ottawa, suggested we present 1 of our horses as a gift to Queen Elizabeth II. On April 28, 1969, we presented her with the gift of Burmese, a Musical Ride service horse.
Burmese became one of her favourite horses. She rode Burmese at the annual Trooping of the Colour, an impressive display of military pageantry to mark her birthday, for 18 years. Burmese passed away in 1990. Queen Elizabeth II didn't ride a horse at that event since 1987.
We presented Queen Elizabeth II with another police service horse during our centennial celebrations in 1973. This time, she chose Jerry, a 3-year-old black gelding. She picked him from a group of 5 horses during her visit to the RCMP stables in Ottawa on August 2, 1973.
Queen Elizabeth II wanted this horse to have the same training Burmese had received as a part of the Musical Ride. Jerry stayed in Canada until 1977 to complete his training as a saddle horse and for use in the RCMP Musical Ride.
When we presented the horse to Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle on May 15, 1977, Jerry's name changed to Centenial (with 1 "n"). He then went to the Mounted Division of the London Metropolitan Police. There, he received crowd-orientation training.
On October 27, 1998 we presented Queen Elizabeth II with the gift of James. This was part of our 125th anniversary celebrations.
He was an RCMP service horse and a trained Musical Ride horse, named after St. James Palace in London. The Prince of Wales (now His Majesty King Charles III) used to ride him for the annual Trooping the Colour.
He was also the veteran champion at the Royal Mews Horse Show in 2012. He went on to be National Champion at the Christmas show at Olympia.
We presented Queen Elizabeth II with the gift of George, an RCMP service horse, during the Royal Windsor Horse Show at Windsor Castle on May 16, 2009. This was to mark the 40th anniversary of our presenting Burmese to her.
During the presentation, Canadian actor Leslie Nielsen narrated a 2-minute video on the RCMP. Nielsen's father was a member of the RCMP.
Since 2009, The King (in his prior role as The Prince of Wales) has ridden George for the annual Trooping the Colour.
We presented a young mare, Elizabeth, to Queen Elizabeth II as a private gift. The gift was in commemoration of her Diamond Jubilee. It also coincided with her accepting the honorary title of Commissioner-in-Chief of the RCMP.
Born on April 24, 2007, Elizabeth was named in honour of the Queen Mother, Queen Elizabeth. The RCMP riding master and Queen Elizabeth II's stud groom selected Elizabeth for her. The RCMP's riding master trained the mare before we sent her to Queen Elizabeth II.
Upon receiving Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth II said she wanted to breed her. She also promised she would gift us Elizabeth's first foal. In 2018, she fulfilled that promise with 2-year-old filly, Victoria.
Sir John (2016)
Commissioner Bob Paulson presented Queen Elizabeth II with Sir John, an 8-year-old gelding, on May 12, 2016. This was in honour of her 90th birthday.
We presented the gift to her in front of Windsor Castle during the Royal Windsor Horse Show. As part of the festivities, the Musical Ride also performed nightly at Windsor Castle from May 12 to 16.
The Princess Royal rides Sir John for the Trooping the Colour.
Kluane and Darby (2019)
On April 3, 2019, we gifted 2 horses to Queen Elizabeth II. We selected these horses to join her stables based on their ideal:
Kluane was a 5.5-year-old Hanoverian gelding that was in training for the Musical Ride. But as a young, untested horse, he needed more training and wasn't ready to be a charger for the Royal Family. For this reason, we took Kluane back in June 2022 to begin his Musical Ride training.
Darby, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding, was an experienced horse. He had toured for many years with the Musical Ride.
We gifted the 2 horses to mark 2 milestones:
- The 80th anniversary of our breeding program
- The 50th anniversary of presenting Queen Elizabeth II with her first RCMP horse, Burmese.
Commissioner Brenda Lucki and Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale attended a private ceremony at Windsor Castle to present Canada's gift.
Gifts from Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II also gave us 2 horses as gifts during her time as the reigning monarch.
Golden Jubilee (2002)
Queen Elizabeth II presented us with the gift of Golden Jubilee from her own personal collection. This took place at a ceremony at the RCMP stables in Ottawa on October 14, 2002. This gift was in recognition of her 50th year as reigning monarch.
In 2018, Queen Elizabeth II gifted us a young foal named Victoria. Elizabeth, the mare we gifted to Her Majesty in 2012, foaled Victoria in 2016. Her birth at Sandringham Estate made history as she was the first non-thoroughbred Bloodstock to be foaled there.
Victoria's name comes from a piece of North-West Mounted Police history. The Mounties took part in Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee procession in 1897.
Victoria is currently training for the Musical Ride.
Timeline of Royal interactions
Over the years, the RCMP and Royal Family have shared many noteworthy moments.
- June 22, 1897: North-West Mounted Police contingent parades in London for Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. This is the first international appearance of the Mounties and first use of the Stetson.
- September 28, 1901: The Mounties escort Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George V, Queen Elizabeth II's grandfather) during a visit to Calgary. This is one of the last occasions that members wear the old style of dress. By the following year, it changes to a style much like today's uniform.
- December 29, 1904: The outgoing Governor General, the Earl of Minto, becomes Honorary Commissioner of the Royal North-West Mounted Police.
- October 6, 1919: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) inspects the Mounties in Regina.
- May 3, 1920: His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales becomes Honorary Commissioner of the RCMP.
- May 14, 1937: King George VI becomes Honorary Commissioner.
- July 7, 1953: Queen Elizabeth II becomes Honorary Commissioner.
- July 4, 1973: Queen Elizabeth II presents our Guidon to Commissioner William Higgitt at Depot Division during RCMP centennial celebrations.
- May 19, 2005: Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh lay a wreath at the RCMP Cenotaph. This is in memory of the 4 RCMP members murdered near Mayerthorpe, AB, on March 3, 2005. Following the ceremony, they meet with the families of the fallen members.
- June 3, 2007: Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal tours the newly opened Heritage Centre. Afterward, the exterior ceremonial walkway is dedicated as The Princess Royal Walkway.
- October 12, 2007: His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex becomes an Honorary Deputy Commissioner.
- June 8, 2009: The Earl of Wessex presents the RCMP with a gift of a 16-month-old golden retriever from Queen Elizabeth II during a visit to Fort Calgary. She personally selected the dog with the registered name of Kenside Wallow of Sandringham and named her Suzanna. She adapted the name from one of her favourite childhood books: Susannah: A Little Girl with the ‘Mounties' by Canadian author Muriel Denison.
- At first, Suzanna underwent training as a bomb-sniffing dog. But she later went into the care of Assistant Commissioner Brown, the Commanding Officer of Depot Division.
- Suzanna was in the receiving line to greet Queen Elizabeth II in Winnipeg in 2010. She also greeted The Prince and Princess of Wales (now Their Majesties King Charles III and The Queen Consort) in Regina in 2012.
- May 23, 2012: On our 139th anniversary, an official ceremony takes place at Buckingham Palace. During this ceremony, 15 RCMP members replace The Queen's Life Guards. This is a significant break from tradition and marks the first time that a non-military unit guards the Sovereign.
- May 10, 2012: Queen Elizabeth II becomes the Commissioner-in-Chief of the RCMP. His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales (now His Majesty King Charles III) becomes the Honorary Commissioner.
- November 11, 2014: The Princess Royal becomes an Honorary Deputy Commissioner while visiting the Musical Ride Centre in Ottawa. During this visit, The Princess Royal and her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, present RCMP Long Service Medals to 7 members.
- May 12-15, 2016: To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday, 39 members of the Musical Ride and 35 horses travel to the United Kingdom. There, they perform for her at the Royal Windsor Horse Show.
- As part of the event, Commissioner Bob Paulson presents Queen Elizabeth II with the gift of Sir John, an 8-year-old gelding. This is the sixth horse gifted to her by the RCMP.
- In return, she presents a rocking horse to us at Windsor Castle, named Burmese after the first horse given to her in 1969. The rocking horse is on display at the Musical Ride Visitors Centre in Ottawa.
- May 12 to 15, 2022: 5 members of the Musical Ride, and 1 retired member, take part in A Gallop Through History in Windsor, England, as part of Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee Celebrations.
- May 18, 2022: The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall (now Their Majesties The King and The Queen Consort) visit the RCMP Musical Ride. This is for Queen Elizabeth II's Platinum Jubilee. There, they inspect the riders and horses and take in a Musical Ride performance.
- September 19, 2022: 5 members of the Musical Ride take part in the funeral procession for Queen Elizabeth II in London, England. Four of the members ride horses we previously gifted to her: George, Elizabeth, Sir John and Darby.
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