Denton John will have a front row seat for tomorrow’s Royal Wedding – as the only American protecting the Queen.
In his shining breastplate, red plume, sword and immaculately-pressed uniform, the 23-year-old New Yorker is a proud member of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.
He will be on horseback tomorrow to watch over Queen Elizabeth as she leaves Westminster Abbey to return to Buckingham Palace following her grandson, Prince William’s wedding to Kate Middleton.
It is a world away from his childhood in Harlem as the son of immigrants from the small island of Grenada.
‘When I was young, it was all about skateboarding, punk rock. I was into everything,’ he told CNN in London.
It was only when he returned to his island roots after graduating from Harlem’s Wadleigh High School that he decided to sign up for the British Army.
He was eligible to serve because the Caribbean nation is a member of the Commonwealth, the association of nations that used to be part of the British Empire.
After passing his entrance exams, Denton was posted to the prestigious Household Cavalry, the same regiment that both Prince William and Prince Harry served in after graduating from Sandhurst military academy.
It was a steep learning curve for the American because he had never even sat on a horse before.
But after two years of training, he now rides like a seasoned veteran and will spend seven hours on horseback tomorrow.
While he will enjoy the pomp and ceremony, he still has an important job to do.
‘We are the Queen’s Life Guard,’ he said. ‘We are the first line of defence if anything should happen to that carriage. We are very vigilant as soldiers.
‘I’ll be taking in the sights and sounds, but I’ll be very focused on my job,’ he added.
‘He is the only American in the Household Cavalry, and as far as we know, the only American in the Royal Wedding, It’s our version of the “American Dream”,’ said Denton’s commanding officer Captain James Hulme.
‘I was always sure he was going to do something positive with his life,’ Loretta Lewis, his former teacher at Wadleigh HS on West 114th Street, told the New York Post.
‘He would come to school in a tie every day, always cool – and this was before mandatory uniforms!’ she said.
She added that Denton already showed an interest in England at school, where he studied the English classics like Beowulf and Pride and Prejudice.
Denton said his parents will be watching the wedding on TV to try and pick him out.
‘My mum’s very proud,’ he said. ‘She’s telling everyone about this.’