Jogging for Queen and Country
I have never met Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in person. I could tell you a story of how I think we are the only Canadians on posting to the UK who missed attending the Queen's Garden Party because of some miscommunication involving my husband, but maybe I'll save that story for another day.
When my husband took an exchange posting to the 3rd (United Kingdom Division) in Bulford Camp, I had the opportunity to continue working in a part-time capacity as an Army Reserve Public Affairs Officer. I was invited by the Media Operations Group (Volunteers) to deploy with them on a few training weekends, including a week in Mönchengladbach, Germany, to deliver media training for the command staff of Sir General David Richards, Commander of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC).
One time our group did a weekend at Sandhurst to learn about recent operations in Iraq and the media challenges with deployment coverage they were experiencing. This weekend included a small Mess Dinner with the Earl of Wessex (now the Earl of Forfar- in a nod to the Queen Mother's heritage.)
The Earl lived just up the road and was a classmate of the Commanding Officer of the MOG (V). The Earl had just returned from a visit to Canada with the Countess of Wessex, and they had been visiting Canadian military units very close to my hometown in Ontario. We enjoyed a great conversation about the beauty of the Niagara Region over a Pimm's.
During the Mess Dinner, I was placed directly across from the Earl's bodyguard. We struck up a conversation, and I asked if he, too, had been to Canada. He mentioned he had accompanied the Earl on this most recent trip and had been on many trips to Canada as part of the security team for the Royal Family.
Our conversation went something like this:
Me: So, as a security detail member, what is the worst part of these visits for you?
Him: The jogging.
Me: We make you go jogging?
Him: Well, when we go on an official visit to Canada, we attend many functions on any given day. And, regardless of the time or the meal, Canadians feed us like it is our Last Supper. We know this will happen, so we start jogging three weeks before we leave and continue for three weeks after coming home, and my knees are too old to jog.
We had a good laugh over this as I could only imagine the concern and care that went into hosting a reception for members of the Royal Family and how plentiful the refreshments would be.
Then I asked the obvious question.
Me: So, what is the best part of these trips?
Him: That's easy, the train journey through the Rocky Mountains.
Me: Oh, I bet that view is spectacular!
Him: It is incredible.
The best part is stopping the train in a random location for the evening. I don't need to worry about the perimeter because nobody knows where we are, and getting to us would be challenging. We all sleep like babies, and then we wake up to this spectacular sunrise. This is the best part of our trips to Canada.
I appreciated the honesty and conversation. We went on to have a delightful evening, including the Earl roasting the CO of the MOG(V) in a fun and thoughtful way. I will never forget this conversation or the memory of meeting a member of the Royal Family. The story is still fun to share to this day!
I wish to extend warm wishes to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on her Platinum Jubilee 70th Anniversary. You have ruled with grace and compassion and have put service above self in every aspect of your reign. God Save the Queen.
Major (Ret'd) Shawna Bruce, retired in 2012 with 27 years of military service. She started her career as a civilian project officer for the Directorate of Exhibitions and Displays (Public Affairs) at NDHQ. Shawna continued her Public Affairs journey as a Projects Officer for the Directorate of Cadets, Public Affairs Officer at 38 CBG (Winnipeg), Public Affairs Ops Officer at 4 Division HQ (Toronto), Public Affairs Officer at 1 ASG (Edmonton) and Senior Public Affairs Officer at 3 Div HQ (Edmonton). Upon retirement, she traded in her uniform for safety goggles and took on the role of National Public Affairs Leader for Dow's Canadian operations for over eight years. Shawna now runs her own consulting company where she prepares teams to respond to their next emergency with crisis communications and media training. Visit our website or connect with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.