The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations & Royal Horses

Queen Elizabeth has clearly been a life-long horse fanatic.  She appears to love horses of all breeds – the mark of a true horse lover, as distinct from those who favour just one breed or just one type.  The sight of the horses from the royal stables included in the Diamond Jubilee Tattoo was a sight to gladden the heart of any horse fanatic.  Tiny welsh ponies, draught horses, race horses, riding horses – there was a large range of breeds and ages.  Some of these horses have been gifts – but they’ve been given to the Queen because the givers know she loves them.

It’s the horses in the ceremonial parades that make these events special.  However historic or fancy cars are, they pale into absolute insignificance beside a contingent of magnificent horses and horsemen in ceremonial uniforms.  There’s simply no contest between the two.

Two of Queen Elizabeth’s children – Prince Charles & Princess Anne – also love horses, and they’re very accomplished riders.   For many years Charles played polo and even rode as an amateur jockey and Anne was a talented eventer, competing in the Montreal Olympics in 1976.  Princess Anne also took on the role of President of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) from 1986 until 1994.

But their children? Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Philips is an exceptional horsewoman set to compete in the 2012 Olympics.  However as far as I know, the rest of the Queen’s grandchildren show no signs of any particular interest. This rapid drop off of interest in horses over just three generations is a replica of what has happened to interest and ability over three generations in Australia, and probably some other countries. I just hope that the same level of tradition of horses in the official parades and ceremonies, continues, in the long term.  But will it?

The Queen’s balcony lineup appeared to be a very obvious succession statement. On the concert night the Queen wore gold & Camilla silver blue, then the next day – for the church service, parade and balcony appearance – the colours were reversed.  It’s a commonsense courtesy to never ‘outshine’ the hostess, bride or the person who is the central reason for a special occasion.   Camilla’s beautiful gold brocade outfit on the final day of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations would presumably have been carefully thought out, agreed upon and worn for a particular purpose.  And the Queen’s immediate successors were the only ones on the balcony. It all seems carefully thought out to signify that a changing of the guard is imminent.

Prince Charles and Camilla both have a lifetime interest in horses so the royal horses would certainly be safe if they were to be at the helm. But the generation afterwards?  Presumably the horses would remain, but it seems entirely likely that their numbers may reduce and/or they’d appear less frequently.

Royal events bring horses in front of millions of people who may otherwise never see or think about them.  A reduction in the number used in royal ceremonial events, or the frequency with which the horses appeared, would be to the detriment of the horse industry not just in Britain, but all around the world.

Just one childhood encounter with a horse can turn someone into a lifetime horse-lover.

I’ve included some of the best media photos of the royal horses on Pinterest.