Bond, Ethan Bond: Attention on Alexandrian with royal family ties ahead of Charles III’s coronation

Bond, Ethan Bond: Attention on Alexandrian with royal family ties ahead of Charles III’s coronation
Bond donning Color Guard of the St. Andrew’s Society with wife Victoria during the Old Town Scottish Walk. (Courtesy Photo)

By Michelle Ruiz

Adventure is in Ethan Bond’s blood. The British-born Alexandrian is a descendant of Norman Knights. His ancestors sailed with globe-circling explorer Sir Francis Drake. Bond has helped launch spy planes over Saddam Hussein-ruled Iraq, ridden horseback alongside Queen Elizabeth II’s carriage and erected a makeshift hospital to contain the spread of COVID-19 among Death Row inmates at San Francisco’s San Quentin prison.

Now Bond is bound for what may be his most challenging mission yet: journeying to Ukraine to rebuild its military and civilian healthcare systems amid a brutal war with Russia.

“We haven’t seen a war like this since World War II,” said Bond, 47, who will soon travel first to Poland and then to Ukraine as a vice president at Aspen Medical, which “provides medical services in places where they would not otherwise be,” he said – like Ebola Treatment Centers in West Africa in 2014 or field hospitals in Mosul during the counter offensive against ISIS in 2015. The Allies were “fighting an aggressor who was completely unjustified and, in many ways, very evil. I think we’re seeing that now with the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

The invasion has decimated Ukraine’s healthcare infrastructure, destroying 300 medical centers, according to Bond. He alleges that Russian forces have deliberately targeted field hospitals and blood banks, in violation of the Geneva Convention. The erratic enemy will demand creativity from Bond and his team. He prefers not to publicize the specific tactics they plan to employ to treat casualties, but says “it’s a whole new way of fighting war.”

The son of a military family, Bond has played roles in the major conflicts of the 20th and 21st centuries. Summers as an Army-sponsored cadet at the University of London in the 90s were spent with active regiments, including in Cyprus for Operation Desert Strike, the post-Gulf War response to Hussein’s attacks on the civil Kurdish population. Sandhurst Military Academy and the Household Cavalry, the British Army’s elite, invitation-only reconnaissance unit, followed. (Both Princes William and Harry joined the regiment – the former came after Bond’s time; the latter served at the same time as him in a different squadron and failed to win him over). Then came an era of highly charged deployments, from Bosnia and the Balkans campaign to, post- 9-11, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Bond is often asked if he’s scared to venture into conflict, particularly in a war as lawless as that in Ukraine, but he said his vast experience mitigates any sense of worry.

“Why do I have absolutely zero fear? It’s not because I’m super brave. It’s because I’m super familiar with the threat.”

After years of combat, Bond struggled more with the adjustment to civilian life. Two days after his military retirement in 2005, he flew to Iraq to work with defense contractor Aegis as U.S. troops were withdrawing. He stayed until 2012.

His first wife was then pregnant with his son, Logan, now 11, and he diverted to Washington D.C. to help establish Aegis’s office there. Bond bristled at the banality:

“I have left my comrades, I have left … a life that had great meaning to me, and now I’m working in a cubicle,” he recalled of his mindset. “That’s the tough bit – not going to war and having adventures.”

Still, his far-flung missions continued: Since joining Aspen, he’s been deployed to Sierra Leone, Liberia, South Sudan, Somalia and Libya. During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bond was dispatched to San Francisco to quite literally right the ship on the quick-spreading Diamond Princess cruise liner.

Bond holds dual British and American citizenship and allegiance to both countries. He believes in American exceptionalism, even as he acknowledges his adopted country is far from perfect. He’s also an avowed supporter of King Charles III.

“I think he’s much-maligned because everybody loved Diana so much,” he said, but Bond applauds the new monarch’s history of work with his youth charity The Prince’s Trust and championing environmentalism long before it was trendy.

Bond served as Queen Elizabeth II’s carriage guard at her Golden Jubilee in 2002, riding beside her on horseback before a crowd of 2 million. “It was bloody hot,” Bond remembered. After hours along the parade route, the carriage returned to Buckingham Palace and the Queen asked the guards to wait a moment. Bond thought Her Majesty might offer them lemonade. Instead, “she came out with sugar cubes, apples and carrots for all the horses.”

He was an invited guest at the monarch’s funeral last year, calling her “refined and elegant and extraordinary at all times,” while also possessing a “lovely little sense of humor.”

In 2020, Bond was inducted into The Order of St. John, the royal chivalric order first established by Queen Victoria, recognizing a life spent “to prevent and relieve sickness and injury, and to act to enhance the health and well-being of people anywhere in the world.”

Bond moved to Alexandria from Reston six years ago when he and his wife, Victoria, a realtor, had a meet-cute fit for a classic rom-com. Logan, then 5 or 6, introduced the couple at a mutual friend’s garden party. “I looked up and he’s walking across the garden with this bombshell on his arm,” Bond laughed.

He serves as an active member of the Color Guard of the St. Andrew’s Society of Washington D.C., the charitable organization which dates back to the founding of Alexandria. “It also means that we get to dress up in fabulous Scottish attire and join in the Alexandria Scottish walk,” Bond said. Victoria moonlights as a sommelier (Bond is partial to BRÜT Champagne & Wine Bar). Logan, a proud Boy Scout, is poised to follow in his family’s legacy of service. “Since he was knee-high to a grasshopper,” Bond said, “he’s wanted to join the military.”

After a lifetime of expeditions, Bond has settled – as much as he may ever settle – in Alexandria. Its charms remind him of the towns to which he sailed while growing up on the British coast: “It’s a great place to have roots.”

The writer is a contributing editor for Vogue. Her work also regularly appears in Vanity Fair, the New York Times and other publications.