Queen Elizabeth II, Horses and the Platinum Jubilee

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LONDON — Officially, her title is “Elizabeth II, by the grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and her other realms and territories Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith.”

Missing from the list? Racehorse owner.

The Queen is and has been — ever since she was a young girl — in love with horses. Ride them, show them, elevate them, make them run, watch them.

There are stables in each of his royal residences.

Corgis play a starring role in Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations

Her biographers have written that the Queen reads the ‘Racing Post’ newspaper over breakfast, while munching on her bowl of Special K and assorted fruit.

Even as her health began to decline a notch, presenting her with mobility issues, the Queen rode horses and ponies – until the mid-1990s.

So it’s fitting that horses and the equestrian arts feature prominently in this week’s celebration of the Queen’s 70 years on the throne, her Platinum Jubilee.

Horses, in fact, proved to be a popular jubilee gift for the Queen.

Last month, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, sent him a small chestnut horse from Karabakh named Shohrat. And on Wednesday, French President Emmanuel Macron offered him a dapple gray named Fabuleu de Maucour. “The form and elegance of the horse, the seven-year-old standard bearer of the Republican Guard, epitomizes French horse breeding,” the French Embassy said in a statement.

The four-day Jubilee celebration kicked off on Thursday with the Trooping the Color military parade at Buckingham Palace, featuring 1,200 soldiers, 400 musicians – and no less than 240 horses.

UK says ‘thank you madam’ to queen of platinum jubilee show

Britain celebrates its oldest monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. The festivities began on June 2. (Video: Alexa Juliana Ard/The Washington Post)

Like soldiers, horses did as they were told. They displayed both wit and drive, obligingly marching backwards across the parade ground when their riders called, and standing calmly amid the ceremonial shouts and percussion of the timpani.

Elizabeth rode horses in Trooping the Color from 1947, when her father was king, to 1986, when she pivoted to royal carriages.

She spent 18 of those years riding a majestic black mare named Burmese – also a gift from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

And like Ginger Rogers – applauded for dancing as well as her partner Fred Astaire, but “upside down and in high heels” – Elizabeth rode in those shows side-saddle.

At the 1981 Trooping Parade, the Queen was praised for her firm hands on the reins of the Birman, when the horse was spooked by a former cadet in the crowd who fired a pistol blank at both of them (he was arrested and convicted under the Treason Act 1842).

Queen Elizabeth II: A visual timeline of her 70 years on the throne

“She’s a wonderful horsewoman. She has a wonderful way with horses,” her son and heir apparent, Prince Charles, said in a BBC documentary.

During a service of thanksgiving for the Queen on Friday, the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, used horse-related metaphors to talk about his life, saying “your majesty, we’re sorry you don’t you won’t be here with us this morning in person, but we’re so glad you’re still in the saddle.

On Saturday, Jubilee celebrations will merge with Derby Day at Epsom Downs, with members of the Royal Family in attendance.

Although the three Thoroughbreds the Queen has entered for the main event have all withdrawn, her horse ‘Just Fine’ is set to compete in the penultimate race, according to the UK sports press. And five of his retired racehorses will join a parade down the track to celebrate his “unparalleled contribution to the equestrian world”, according to organisers.

The Queen herself will miss the derby. She felt “some discomfort” during the opening day parade, the palace said, and would miss some Jubilee events. She “should watch it on TV at Windsor Castle,” the palace said on Friday.

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Even though she has reduced her public engagements, giving up the derby is out of order for the Queen.

In a sign of her priorities, Buckingham Palace said last month that her “episodic mobility issues” would prevent her from overseeing the official opening of Parliament, yet she managed to attend the Windsor Horse Show the same week. The Times of London reported that the Queen looked “full of life” and that “the secret was simple: the horses”.

Want to see the queen go a little crazy?

Watch a video of her watching one of her horses win.

His sons and grandsons, Princes Charles, Andrew, William and Harry, all play or have played polo. The Queen’s daughter, Princess Anne, was the first British royal to compete in the Olympics. She rode Goodwill, her mother’s horse, at the Montreal Games in 1976.

Her Majesty’s racing colors are purple, with a gold braid, much like London’s new $23bn underground and railway, the Elizabeth Line – which she recently rode.

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It is said that the queen does not bet on horses.

They say not everyone believes it.

Elizabeth’s parents gave her a Shetland pony, Peggy, when the princess was 4 years old. She rode horses at age 6.

With the palace’s blessing, the Windsor Horse Show has published an official portrait for the monarch’s 96th birthday. It shows the Queen wearing a dark cape, holding the reins of two of her own stunningly white ponies, Bybeck Nightingale and Bybeck Katie.

Twitter said — mostly approvingly — that she looked like Gandalf from “The Lord of the Rings.”

Elizabeth inherited her breeding and racing herd from her father, George VI, in 1952 when she became queen.

She has been racing horses for more than 60 years, the thoroughbreds she owns have taken first place in four of the five “flat racing” classics: the Oaks and the St. Leger, as well as the 1,000 Guineas Stakes and 2,000 Guineas.

Only the Epsom Downs Derby escaped him.

In her new book on the monarchy, ‘The Palace Papers’, former New Yorker editor Tina Brown explains that the Queen’s wedding gift to her son Charles, when he married Camilla Parker Bowles, was a broodmare.

At the Windsor Castle wedding, Brown reported, the Queen slipped out of the reception to an adjoining room to catch a few minutes of the Grand National, Britain’s tallest steeplechase – which organizers delayed by 25 minutes on his behalf. She was joined on the television set by Andrew Parker Bowles, Camilla’s ex-husband.

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In a 2020 article in Horse & Hound magazine, the editors listed the Queen’s all-time favorite horses, as revealed by her head groom, Terry Pendry, and race manager, John Warren.

Pendry described Elizabeth as a “fountain of knowledge on all things horse, you might say a living encyclopaedia”.

He said one of the Queen’s favorites was Doublet, a horse Anne rode when she won the European Eventing Championships in 1971.

Then Pendry slipped in an admiring retort: ​​“The queen has bred both horse and rider!