“They’re armed and they don’t stop for anyone.” Meet the Metropolitan Special Escort Group (SEG), the ‘Royalty Protection Branch’ of the Scotland Yard who are trained to safely guide VIPs through the busy streets of London and who, unlike the Police, are permanently armed with visible Glock 17 firearms.
It’s not entirely explicable why this video is so watchable—especially considering that the majority of the 30-minute documentary is footage of the pace bike from inside the lead vehicle of a motorcade—but somehow, “Inconspicuous Ingenuity”, written, directed, and narrated by Antony Loveless is actually entertaining.
It could be that anyone who rides a motorcycle will be drawn in by the riding skills demonstrated by the entourage, but also, if you’ve ever commuted through a busy city, knowing they make this happen during rush hour in London, England makes it even more remarkable.
Additionally amazing is that this well-oiled system doesn’t block off the streets, as is the common practice in America. Instead, the lead rider decides, as they ride, which direction should be taken—information that is being continually communicated to the “outriders”—the two or more riders who leapfrog one another as they alternately block then direct traffic at each "junction" (that’s British for intersection). All this is accomplished with only the discreet use of flashing blue lights and whistles.
The aim is to keep city traffic flowing while maintaining a speed of about 20-25 miles per hour. This allows for the motorcade to stay in motion at all times without disrupting the city’s motorists.
Part 1 of the documentary includes a 25-minute ride from Heathrow Airport to New Scotland Yard in 2000. Three cars are led by 3 motorcycles. At no point does the motorcade stop and other than a few opportunistic pedestrians and a couple distracted drivers, no one interferes with the procession. Again, somehow this is interesting.
Part 2 is dominated by the final sequence, footage from a 2014 motorcade delivered at warp speed to a catchy electronic tune, a rather abrupt but refreshing change of mood. The ever-present pace car maintains its position while the “outriders” scramble to and fro, but the team, like the number of cars in the ‘cade, is up from 3 to 5. As well, the officers now have guns and the BMWs are now Honda VFR1200s.
Escorting VIPs is serious business and likely quite stressful but in what we might expect from the British, calm civility prevails, even when they fall. (Could I resist including this?)