Page 3 Profile: Nicholas van Cutsem - soldier

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The Independent Online

Van who?

Major van Cutsem serves with the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment and happens to be Prince William's best friend. His father, Hugh van Cutsem, is also a close friend of Prince Charles.

You will have definitely caught sight of van Cutsem at the royal wedding in April when he rode behind the newly married couple (above); he led the Captain's Escort to Buckingham Palace after their wedding at Westminster Abbey. He has served twice in Afghanistan, is a discreet friend to the royal family and apparently an all-round decent chap. Unfortunately, reports surfaced yesterday of him allegedly hitting a soldier so hard he snapped his riding crop.

Uh-oh. That sounds serious...

It could be. If a military police probe proves he assaulted the soldier who was "role-playing" an attack on the Queen's state coach, Major van Cutsem could face a court martial. The mock riot was staged as part of a military exercise at Bodney training camp in Norfolk. Troops were practising how to defend the monarch's ceremonial carriage. Around 100 troopers took part, with about 40 posing as rioters.

So it was a bit of play-acting that got out of hand?

Could well be. Members of the regiment have defended the Major saying the trooper overplayed his role and "behaved like an idiot" trying to pull van Cutsem off his horse. Let's see what the military investigation decides...