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Queen Elizabeth II - horsewoman

Updated on October 21, 2015
Her Majesty the Queen with Ronald Reagan
Her Majesty the Queen with Ronald Reagan | Source

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

In control

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

Queen Victoria on horseback. Seen with John Brown.
Queen Victoria on horseback. Seen with John Brown. | Source

Trooping of the Colour 1986

The Trooping of the Colour. Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh.
The Trooping of the Colour. Her Majesty the Queen, Prince Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh. | Source

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!

Photography credits

All photographs from Wikipedia Commons.

Further reading

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.

QE2 style

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.

Queen Elizabeth - 1950s style icon.


Grace Kelly - Princess Grace of Monaco.

The Royal Baby.

Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh.

© 2013 Jackie Jackson

Thanks for reading - please say hello!

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    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @sousababy: Love that!

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 4 years ago

      Gee, I have something in common with Anne. Because for years I felt: "If it doesn't fart or say eh, I'm not interested."

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @SusanAston: You were there? How exciting! It was a wonderful event on TV.

    • SusanAston profile image

      SusanAston 4 years ago

      Re the Hornpipe video - it was such a rainy day - and it was really cold too.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @anonymous: Oh good spot - thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      In Trooping of the Colour 1986 below the photo you have mentioned 1886 instead of 1986

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @ajmac: Thank you!

    • profile image

      ajmac 5 years ago

      I enjoyed watching these videos.Thank you for the nice lens.

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @chanis lm: Thank you! They're all great videos aren't they? I love the one of the Queen driving - she might be in her eighties but she doesn't seem to have slowed down :)

    • chanis lm profile image

      chanis lm 5 years ago

      Some excellent videos - I really enjoyed that!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Ikey4088: We certainly do! Isn't that a funny thing about the Sailors Hornpipe? It's almost as if it's bred into us :) I love the way in the video that Prince Philip grins at the Queen. What a great couple they are.

    • profile image

      Ikey4088 5 years ago

      Ha ha it's true.... I watched the video and was also bobbing to the Sailors Hornpipe, oh and I also had a big grin on my face too. What a great lens. (being English I may be a little biased). We love our Queen.

    • kce5590 profile image

      kce5590 5 years ago

      @AnimalHouse: same here! never would have guessed it!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great lady! She's incredible..thanks for your

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @AnimalHouse: Thank you. The Queen is pretty amazing!

    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 5 years ago

      It always amazes me whenever a queen is riding a horse. :) Very nice lens! thank you for sharing!

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @laurajax: Thank you so much, laurajax!

    • profile image

      laurajax 5 years ago

      terrific job! love this lens

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @Dressage Husband: Thank you so much, Stephen. I understand that she now rides regularly with her youngest grandchildren - which is lovely. She's incredible - she's one of the most famous people in the world and yet she's a loving granny too.

    • Dressage Husband profile image

      Stephen J Parkin 5 years ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada

      The Queen really is quite amazing and I have even seen a picture of her when much younger than now actually mucking out her own horse stall. She believed like all good horse people that this is part of forming the necessary connection with the horse to be able to ride at the highest levels as she undoubtedly does and did. Blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      This is an excellent example of superior writing. It's been very useful for me. Everything is very open and represents very clear explanation of issues. Really blogging is spreading its wings quickly. Your write up is a good example of it. Your website is very useful. Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time, today I find it finally this postgive me lots of advise it is very useful for me. I will pay more attention to you , I hope you can go on posting more such post, I will support you all the time. This was just what I was on looking for. I'll come back to this blog for sure! I bookmarked this blog a while ago because of the useful content and I am never being disappointed. Keep up the good work.Rotary

    • BritFlorida profile image

      Jackie Jackson 5 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

      @agagata lm: Thank you for reading! The Queen - and Prince Philip constantly amaze me. They are at an age when they should be relaxing and taking it easy but are as busy and active as ever. They are both remarkable people.

    • agagata lm profile image

      agagata lm 5 years ago

      I've lived in the UK for almost 7 years now and I love reading about and watching the Queen. I think her love for animals is amazing. Thank you for sharing! x


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