Valley Forge Military Academy Garrison Sgt. Major Kept a Royal Wedding on Track

GSM Bill Mott greets guests of the Royal Wedding.
Image via GSM Bill Mott.
The GSM along the Royal Wedding parade route.

Garrison Sgt. Major (retired) Bill Mott knows about attention to detail, whether it’s overseeing the parade route of a Royal Wedding or keeping things running smoothly at Valley Forge Military Academy.

These days, the GSM oversees the discipline and well-being of the Academy students.

His is a face well recognized on campus. 

The 60-year-old works with the president, the dean, the faculty, and the barracks officers, visiting the school house daily, and walking the grounds.

He keeps an eye on the school’s daily schedule and on the facilities.

He’s also the gentleman who leads tours with potential students and their parents during open houses.

 “There are a myriad of daily task and responsibilities that I might need to get involved with or remedy,” he says.

 “Plus, I do like to see cadets for a chat now and again, individually if things are going extremely well for them, or if they might need some guidance.”

Royal Wedding Duties

He had a decidedly different job in 2011, when he was the Garrison Sgt. Major for the London District, “a bespoke position in the British Army,” he says.

His role included organizing parades for Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family.

The GSM shared memories of his involvement in the wedding for Prince William and Kate Middletown with People Magazine in an April 29, 2021 article by Simon Perry.

He had met with Prince William many times prior to the wedding, describing him as “an outstanding young man, a lovely lad.”

“He was a cadet at Sandhurst when I was a regimental sergeant major. It is lovely to see how he is maturing and some of the things that you see him doing,” he said in the article.

Royal Wedding Preparations

A big part of the GSM’s job was to coordinate hundreds of troops for Prince William and Kate’s return to the palace after the wedding. 

“I was up at ‘dark o’clock,’” he says.  “I had to mark the ground for the guard of honor and the street liners. We did a rehearsal one early morning a couple of days before,” he says.

He walked the route. He checked for potholes, and kept an eye out to make sure there was “no road furniture, traffic furniture that was going to cause problems for the mounted divisions, for instance.”

“I would even check the flags on the mall. Occasionally, I might see a Union Flag upside down.”

Thankfully, there was nothing else out of place, he reports.

Still, the Unexpected

Nothing out of place, but on the day of the wedding, a horse did not cooperate. It threw its rider ahead of the newlywed’s carriage.

“To be thrown from a horse on tarmac is not a nice experience, and he was in his regalia as well,” GSM told People Magazine.

The trooper stood at attention when the couple passed him seconds later.

“He had just been thrown off and here he was standing. I got a message to him a few days later to say how proud I was of him,” GSM says.

A Splendid Affair

“Because it was such a splendid affair, everyone was pumped up. Even at 4 a.m. there were people already waving their flags,” GSM recalls.

He watched from the palace gates when the couple appeared on the balcony.

“The crowd was falling over themselves with excitement with ‘aahs and oohs.’ he recalls. ”They were very happy people. It’s amazing how close it is when you are there on the ground.

“It is only 34 paces from the railings to the wall and they are only 15-20 feet above you. I’m a soldier, a man’s man, but even for me it was lovely to see that.”

A Different View

GSM’s close working relationship with the royal household earned him a chance to see the wedding from the Westminster Abbey pews, but he was needed elsewhere at the time so he gave his ticket to his sister Sarah-Jayne Scott and son Jonathan.

“It was as rewarding because I know that I had two people that I love dearly that were there and felt this magical moment of being involved in something so important,” he says.

More about GSM’s day job is at Valley Forge Military Academy and College.

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