Queen Elizabeth II - horsewoman
Queen Elizabeth of England & her horse, Burmese
Queen Elizabeth of Britain is known for being an excellent horsewoman. She loves to ride horses and she loves to watch horse racing. This photograph shows the Queen on her horse, Burmese, in the company of Ronald Reagan, then the President of the United States, at Windsor - taken in 1982.She was crowned before I was born so I have grown up 'knowing' Her Majesty as a superb British monarch.
How skilled a rider is the she? Well, here's an example. I want you to imagine that you are a 55 year old woman. You're busy because your son is due to be married in a few months but you have a necessary duty to perform - a duty that involves you leading a procession of horses in a traditional ceremony and parade in the heart of London. You are leading the procession - made up of skilled riders who are trained mounted troops. The crowds are waving and cheering as you ride by. The horses are accustomed to that and they behave wonderfully.
Then, six shots fire out.
Your horse panics. All the horses in the parade panic. With thousands of people watching and the television cameras on you, you have to control your terrified horse.
Oh, and you're riding side-saddle...
Photographs from Wikipedia Commons.
Trooping of the Colour - 1981
The shots were fired at close range. All the horses panicked. These were well-trained horses and accustomed to crowds but not to gunfire. See how quickly the Queen reacts. See how she has her horse under control before the drilled and well-trained soldiers do - and they are essentially her bodyguards.
Her Majesty is in control and has her horse calmed down while the trained soldiers are still trying to control their own horses. Seconds later she is seen giving her horse a soothing pat on the neck.
And remember, she was riding side-saddle. As you can see from the photograph of the Queen with Ronald Reagan, when riding in private she sits astride the saddle normally but it is the custom that on ceremonial occasions,she rides side-saddle. Victoria though, it is believed, always rode side-saddle. See the photograph below.
Victoria riding side saddle
Trooping of the Colour 1986
Did the experience put the Her Majesty off riding in the Trooping of the Colour ceremony? No, here she is in 1986 with Prince Charles and Prince Philip.
Does she still ride?
I'm writing this in 2013, the Her Majestry's eighty-seventh year. And yes, she still rides regularly. She no longer rides in processions and parades and her riding is more likely to be done on private land. However, there are still occasional newspaper photographs showing that the she still rides.
Note that the she has always refused to wear a riding helmet. When she's riding privately, she's more than likely wearing a headscarf.
Does she still drive?
As a young princess, she learned to drive during the Second World War when she served in the Women's Auxiliary Army Service. She also trained as a mechanic. When she is going to the stables to ride, she normally drives herself there. She's also been spotted by astonished pedestrians. Note two things:
1. She doesn't exactly drive slowly and
2. She drives stick
About her horse, Burmese
- Burmese was a mare who was presented to Her Majesty by the Canadian Mounties
- She was given to Her Majesty in 1969. This is because the Canadian Mounties went to Britain to perform in a horse show that was attended by the Royal Family
- Burmese retired after the 1986 Trooping of the Colour shown in the photograph above
- After her retirement, she went to live at Windsor Castle. Her Majesty issued an order saying that no-one else should ride her
- Burmese was born in 1962 and died in 1990
- Burmese is buried in the grounds of Windsor Castle
Her Majesty's daughter and granddaughter
Above is a quote from the Elizabeth's husband - the lovely Prince Philip - about their daughter, Anne. She competed in high-level equestrian events. Her own daughter, Zara, is also well-known as a competitive horsewoman.
My favorite Royal video
For no other reason than it's fun! This is typical English eccentricity. It shows a musical interlude during the Jubilee celebrations in 2012. Similar to the way the English are nostalgic about the Shipping Forecast, We automatically bob about and bounce up and down when we hear the Sailor's Hornpipe. Even the Royals, young and old.
I really think that Her Majesty and Kate (the Duchess of Cambridge) are trying really hard to maintain their composure and not join in but, like all English people, they just can't help it! Princes Philip, Charles, Harry and William are having a great time though - and so is Camilla.
You think I'm exaggerating?
It's true - everyone bobs up and down to the Sailor's Hornpipe. Take a look! And this is in the highly prestigious Royal Albert Hall. What's more, any member of the audience with a klaxton, car horn or any kind of tooter, is welcome to join in!
All photographs from Wikipedia Commons.
Our sovereign has lived, and ruled, during some turbulent times. These haven't always been in politics and in public life - there have been dramas and tragedies within the family too. There are some excellent books about Her Majesty that will ultimately become collector's items. My selection is below.
Do you prefer to watch rather than read? Then you'll love these.
For a certain generation of women the Royal Princess who became Her Majesty was a fashion icon. This is similar to the way that Princess Diana was in her day and the way that Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, is today. Follow the link below to read more.
MORE ROYAL ARTICLES
© 2013 Jackie Jackson