Friday, 29 October 2010

The Cole Family's Royal Connection

Last Tuesday, I was delighted to get on a bus to Windsor with friends and family for what was a pretty special day out.

In a twist on the Dick Whittington story, we all went to see the formal debut of our family horse Dyfed Celt as a member of the Queen's Household Cavalry.

As a family, Shire Horses are in the blood. My grandfather John Rees Lewis (or J.R as he was known) worked the land at Carnhuan, Eglwyswrw, with the Shires and latterly showed them with help up until his death in 1991. Our family, not wanting to sell his wonderful legacy, decided to diversify and open the farm to the public as the Dyfed Shire Horse Farm in 1994. We've sold horses to Germany and to the USA over the years, but never, until now, to the Royal Family.

It seems like an age ago when the BBC Wales cameras reported on Celt's new adventure in London, away from his Eglwyswrw home in west Wales.

Now, exactly 2 years later, we've gone full circle.

Eglwyswrw to London
As the report above shows, we as a family saw an advertisement for a Drum Horse in the Heavy Horse World and got in touch with the powers that be.

For only a young 3 year old, we knew his attitude and tempremant would be what was required. We weren't disappointed when the offer was made to purchase him for the Household Cavalry.

But that didn't mean that he'd make the grade and for the past 2 years he's been living in the underground Kensington Barracks in London and grazing in Hyde Park whilst undertaking the training required for him to be officially welcomed into the Cavalry.

The regiment have been excellent in communicating with us Celt's progress and last summer, the family and friends had a bus trip to Kensington to see Celt in his new surroundings. I was unfortunately unable to make it - being on holiday in France at the time.

Windsor & the Emir of Qatar
So I was really pleased to have a second opportunity this week to have a trip to the bigger smoke to see Celt at work. Now, 2 years on, it wasn't just a matter of seeing him in training, but actually seeing him in action.

The Emir of Qatar and his entourage were due to arrive on an official visit and were to be met by the Queen, Prince Phillip and the family.

We arrived in good time and found a place en-route just a 100 or so yards from the main welcoming platform. In the light drizzle, some 50 of us waited attentively for the star of the day to arrive - no, not the Emir or the Queen, but Celt!

See here a slideshow of photos taken by BBC Berkshire of the day and in particular, photo 6 of our gang, manning the barricades! As the caption says, the bus left west Wales at around 4am - but I think the locals must've been bemused as to why we were there in the first place!

The reason arrived at the head of the procession just after 11am. Celt, 2nd in line of some 200 horses of the Household Cavalry, passed us in his full regalia, carrying those solid silver drums and the musician on top.

He behaved very well throughout the short welcoming ceremony and we could see him in the distance, at the heart of the action, as the respective anthems were played.

The Household Cavalry's Mounted Regiment Training Wing
We were then fortunate enough to be given a tour around Celt's home for the day at the regiments' near-by training wing. There, we saw him back in the stable after the exertions of his day out on formal parade.

We were told that this was the Queen's first opportunity to see him in action and in a matter of days it is expected, we shall hopefully find out what his new formal, Roman name will be. His stable name however will remain Dyfed Celt which will remind all of his roots. He will also be given the rank of a Major - not bad going for a West Walian!

He will next be on parade at the Lord Mayor's Parade in London in a few weeks time and next year there's a very good chance that he'll be on Horseguards Parade in the Trooping of the Colour.

It really was great to see one of our family's horses taking his place, centre stage, in the Queen's Household Cavalry. It was great in addition, that this was witnessed by a wide community of family and friends who had willingly paid the £20 coach fare and got up ridiculously early, to see a real 'one-off' occasion in the flesh.

More Media Coverage
Just as before when he left for the bright lights of the city, the Welsh media have again been enthusiastic in their interest of Celt's progress.

S4C's 'Ffermio' programme recorded the proceedings and will be transmitting the footage this coming Monday at 8.25pm. Meanwhile, my oldest brother Huw, who did a great job in organising the trip, went live on BBC Radio Wales' Jamie Owen and Louise Elliott programme on Wednesday morning. This clip on iplayer is only retrieveable for the next few days. Wind forward to 2:30:30 for an 8 minute interview with Huw.

It's a lovely story and one, that as a family and a community, we are rightly very proud.

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