By Tom Dare
A SERIES OF FASCTINATING IMAGES FROM a new book documenting the history of the elite police force responsible for escorting the Royal family around London have been published for the first time.
Pictures from ‘Escorting the Monarch: We Lead, Others Follow’ by Chris Jagger show Prince’s William and Harry perched on one of the Special Escort Group’s (SEG) motorbikes while mother Diana looks on, while another shows former U.S. President George Bush Snr. posing on one of the force’s bikes.
Further images from the book show former Japanese leader Emperor Hirohito inspecting an SEG line-up in 1971, while Princess Diana can be seen donning one of the force’s overalls for another picture.
The new book examines the history of the SEG, a unit of the Metropolitan Police Force responsible for escorting high profile figures around London and ensuring their safety. From queens, kings, presidents and emperors, to priceless works of art, terrorists and high-risk prisoners, the SEG are responsible for ensuring the safety of them all.
Written by the son of a retired SEG officer who himself served in the British Government’s security and intelligence community, Escorting the Monarch is told, in part, through first hand stories and anecdotes gleaned from former officers of the group.
And author Chris Jagger says that his experiences growing up were one of the main reasons he decided to write the book.
“When I decided to write ‘Escorting the Monarch,’ there were several motivating factors,” he says.
“Son of a retired SEG officer, I’d been raised on fun stories of the groups adventures. Many provided incredible insights to a world that was otherwise closed off. As a teen, I had the privilege of spending a day here and there to watch the SEG at work – a visit to a secret office or a royal palace was often on the cards.
“For a young north London lad, this was very inspiring to say the least.
“From the perspective of the public, I should imagine that their work appears to be relatively straight forward. However, those who have seen them at work will appreciate that to make something look so elegant requires incredible levels of skill – and practice! The SEG are visually well known to many, but the stories that build their six and half decades of service are entirely unknown – until now.”
One of the main responsibilities of the SEG is to escort and protect the royal family, with their transportation to and from special events the sole responsibility of the police unit.
And Chris says this close relationship has created a special bond between the royals and the SEG.
“The royal family have a huge respect and trust in the SEG,” he says.
“They are a tiny group – approximately 30 officers at any one time, and many of them will serve 10-15 years in the group. They are with the royals day-in-day-out.
“For the group to do their job effectively, they must have the trust and understanding of those they are charged to protect. The relationship is professional but kind and based on a mutual respect. There is always a line which keeps things non-personal, but occasionally royals will spend time with the group on a more personal basis as a way of showing their appreciation.
“The book contains many previously ‘unknown’ insights and anecdotes into the visits of some incredible people; Marshall Tito, the first man and women in space, various US presidents, kings and queens, the Emperor of Japan, Nelson Mandela to name but a few. It also offers unique perspectives on the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill, Lord Mountbatten and Princess Diana.
“Not to mention escorts of IRA prisoners, gold bullion and even the Turin Cloth.”
Escorting the Monarch: We Lead, Others Follow by Chris Jagger is published by Pen and Sword, and can be purchased here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Escorting-Monarch-Chris-Jagger/dp/1526720418