To mark her 96th birthday, HRH Queen Elizabeth II had a photographic portrait taken of herself holding her two Fell ponies, Bybeck Katie and Bybeck Nightingale, on the grounds of Windsor Castle:
Another horsey tribute is being released to mark The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, a celebration of her 70-year reign. This time it’s a book called There Once Is a Queen, written by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo. It chronicles how her father, King George V, gave then Princess Elizabeth a Shetland pony called Peggy when she was only four.
The author told the Sunday Times that he discussed her first horse love during a lunch in 2016. “She talked very, very movingly about her love for this horse,” Morpurgo recalls. “This was a life-changing moment. From that moment on, horses were going to be part of her life.”
As we know, the Queen’s passion for horses never dwindled and she grew up to be a skilled horsewoman, racehorse breeder and owner. She famously controlled her mare Burmese when someone fired a round of blanks at her during the Trooping the Colour parade in 1981. Burmese was a gift to Her Majesty from Canada and was a black RCMP horse that the Queen rode in parades for 18 years.
According to The Daily Mail there have been two documentaries about the monarch’s love of horses. The Queen’s Race Horses: A Private View, was released in 1974 and was narrated by her Majesty, and The Queen: A Passion for Horses, which was released in 2013 as part of the 60th Anniversary Coronation celebrations.
There Once is a Queen, beautifully illustrated in watercolour by artist Michael Foreman, is available for advance purchase from Amazon.ca (hardcover copies will be available Sept. 6, 2022).