For royal tours to Canada, equerries are chosen from the commissioned officers of the Canadian Forces — typically a major or lieutenant-colonel is appointed for the Queen while a captain is selected for the child of a monarch.
Prince William wanted a search and rescue pilot for his equerry — an officer of the British royal household who attends or assists members of the royal family — because that’s his job in the Royal Air Force. He also wanted someone who was bilingual.
He reviewed the files that were presented to him and chose Capt. Jean Leroux of CFB Comox, who was only too happy to be chosen.
Capt. Leroux says meeting Prince William for the first time was a privilege and very informal.
“I was sitting in the office they have set aside for me in St. James Palace and the Prince walked in. He approached me very casually and introduced himself.
“We talked for a few minutes about the tour and then immediately starting swapping stories about being search and rescue pilots. We may fly different types of helicopters in different countries, but it’s the same type of work so we definitely have that in common.”
Leroux has been in London, England, for the past week combining some CH-149 Cormorant simulator training with learning what will be expected of him throughout the royal tour. So far, he’s been brushing up on protocol, the tour’s itinerary and accompanying the royal couple out in public to learn the ropes.
“My job is to stay close to the Duke and Duchess to make sure they are on schedule and to handle any last-minute things that might pop up,” he says. “So far it has been an absolute pleasure to work for the royal couple.”
Leroux flew with the royal couple, and their entourage, aboard a CC-150 Polaris from 437 Squadron, 8 Wing Trenton, Ont. on June 30 for the start of their eight-day visit to Canada. Several other Air Force units will be involved in the tour as the Duke and Duchess travel across Canada.
Leroux is currently assuming the duties of chief check pilot and operational aircraft commander on the Cormorant helicopter at 442 Squadron in Comox.