Norfolk man in charge of Royal Wedding pomp and ceremony
An estimated one billion pairs of worldwide eyes will be on Britain for this Friday's Royal wedding and the man charged with upholding the nation's reputation for military precision, pomp and excellence has his roots firmly in north Norfolk.
Major General William Cubitt CBE has been preparing for the event ever since Prince William and Kate Middleton announced their engagement.
The task falls to Maj Gen Cubitt, whose family have lived in north Norfolk for 300 years, in his role as commander of the Household Division.
He is responsible for ensuring that 1,500 troops from all three services, together with about 200 horses, know where they should be and what they should be doing on the day. Parading soldiers, glinting swords, beautifully-groomed mounts, dazzling uniforms and military bands will be a key feature of the ceremonial and have earned Britain a global and envied reputation for its mastery of pageant.
But Maj Gen Cubitt, 52, is not daunted by the responsibility. 'It's not at all irksome. We are all absolutely thrilled about it – I've had no shortage of volunteers wanting to be involved,' he said.
'It's going to be such a popular day, and a national attraction, and they are a very popular couple.
'We are now in the crescendo of it all and there is a lot of practise going on. Much of the responsibility falls on the police. My bit is ceremonial and I have every confidence that we have planned it well, and every confidence in my troops.'
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Maj Gen Cubitt was appointed to his present role four years ago and has organised many large-scale military events in London since then, including state openings of parliament, the Queen's Birthday Parade and Cenotaph ceremonies.
The only differences this time were that royal weddings were not annual events, the crowds would be larger and there would be more members of foreign royal families attending.
His job has included working with the police and Buckingham Palace to plan the route of the military parade, organising the ceremonial escort from Westminster Abbey back to Buckingham Palace for the Queen and other members of the Royal family, supporting the escort from the abbey for Prince William and his bride, and organising the guard of honour at Buckingham Palace.
The Queen's guard on the day will be the first battalion of the Irish Guards, just home from Afghanistan. Prince William is Colonel of the Irish Guards which is Maj Gen Cubitt's own regiment.
On Friday he will be in Westminster Abbey with his wife Lucy as wedding guests, leaving a number of commanders to oversee the smooth running of operations in the field.