Elizabeth II: the queen, the horses, and the football

At 21, Princess Elizabeth is an avid spectator of the Epsom Derby. Accompanying her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the young Princess Royal witnesses the victory of Pearl Diver in this prestigious race.

She wasn’t there just out of duty – horse racing has been a lifelong passion. Thus, Royal Ascot became an almost permanent fixture in her diary, an event she enjoyed as a young princess, until the end of her reign as queen.

“The Queen was very involved in horse racing as a breeder and owner of horses, but also as the owner of a racecourse since that of Ascot is owned by the Crown. But above all she was a racing fan. She loved this sport and, because of her position, she was also very involved in it.explains Lee Mottershead, senior editor at the Racing Post, a British daily on horse racing.

From childhood, Elizabeth had an affinity with horses. It is said that she first sat on a horse when she was three years old.

“She was very involved because her family was too, but it was not a forced passion. It is said that in 1942 her father, King George VI, then owned two exceptionally good racehorses, Big Game and Sun Chariot. The Queen and her sister, Princess Margaret, were allowed to visit the horses, trained by trainer Fred Darling. She stroked Big Game and enjoyed the experience so much that she said that she didn’t wash her hands for hours afterwards, she liked it so much”says Mottershead.

After her father’s death, Queen Elizabeth not only inherited the crown – she also inherited the horses and even the racehorses of Ascot.

His family was already owners and breeders of Thoroughbreds. Elizabeth continued this tradition and recorded a number of victories.

She has won every classic except Epsom, and had 24 victories at Ascot. In 2013 his horse Estimate won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

Fashions have changed over the decades, but the Queen’s love for the sport has never wavered. It was at Royal Ascot that she was most closely associated. Despite her royal status, she was considered part of the racing community.

“The great joy for racing fans was to see the Queen on a racecourse in her most natural state, because she was first and foremost a racing fan. She was like them, she was also very approachable. She was one of the theirs. She was a racing fan at heart.”explains the editor of the Racing Post.

For decades, Queen Elizabeth II has been a supporter, protector and figurehead of British horse racing.

“King” Pelé and the English success of 1966

In 1968, the legendary Maracana Stadium hosted a “royal encounter”, when Queen Elizabeth II visited there with her husband, Prince Philip, and met Pelé, nicknamed “the king of football”.

The great footballer remembered this meeting by paying tribute to the monarch after her death at the age of 96 on September 8.

He has tweeted his admiration for the queen since meeting her in person in 1968, when visiting the stadium in Rio de Janeiro.

“His actions marked generations”wrote Pele. “This legacy will be eternal”.

Two years earlier, Queen Elizabeth II presented captain Bobby Moore with the Jules Rimet Trophy after England beat Germany in the FIFA World Cup final.

Tributes from the world of sport poured in following the passing of Her Majesty The Queen.


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