Royal visit puts police on alert
With days to go until the Canadian debut of Prince William with his wife Kate Middleton, RCMP and Ottawa Police are reviewing security protocol to ensure the world's most celebrated newlyweds enjoy a safe tour of the capital.
The royal couple arrives on Thursday for their three-day visit to Ottawa, and security officials want a smooth operation when it comes to every aspect of the visit.
Sgt. Al Ferris, who will lead 15 other officers with the Ottawa Police Escort Unit on motorcycles, will be helping to close intersections and manage traffic in advance of the royal motorcade.
The motorcade transporting the couple, he said, must be allowed to proceed without slowing down. "Our role is to … ensure that the package — the VIP in the motorcade — does not stop between point A and point B."
Route remains secret
The route of travel will not be made public.
"That would be private information between the RCMP and us," Ferris said. "For security reasons, we don't tell anyone the routes."
While police insist they're ready for anything, taking into account a walkabout planned for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, one wild card could be the behaviour of the horses pulling their landau in a scheduled ride.
The animals might spook easily, so officers are being instructed to use caution.
Caution around horses
"The horses don't like motorcycles," Ferris said. "We're briefed ahead of time: When you're going by the horses, keep the revs down, keep the engine quiet."
Doug Kirland, a retired sergeant with the Ottawa Police, was previously in charge of special events such as royal tours. Royal family members, he said, are considered as serious a security priority as protecting a head of state.
"There's this enormous popularity. People who want to get there and touch them and be the first at the fence," Kirland said. "Some people may become a little more eager than others."
"The biggest concern here is just that outpouring of affection, and that it doesn't become something that's going to get somebody hurt."
'Like a ballet'
Although thousands of people turned up to greet the Queen and U.S. President Barack Obama in separate visits in recent years, police forces are expecting the appearance of William and Kate to draw even larger crowds.
Still, Kirland said veteran officers who work on escorts are well-trained and experienced enough to detect disturbances that might be bubbling up.
"These things are kind of like a ballet and they have a motion," he said. "When that motion is disturbed and something is out of place, it immediately draws your attention."
The royal couple begins their Ottawa stay on Thursday with a walkabout around the National War Memorial.
With files from the CBC's Laurie Fagan, Sandra Abma