If there’s one thing we all thought we knew about The Queen it was her passion for horses, though the BBC’s ‘The Queen: A Passion For Horses’ shows this passion in quite a different light.
The programme starts with the birth of a new foal in The Queen’s stables. We get to see how these foals are trained up into world class race horses and how The Queen’s intimate involvement in the breeding contributes to the success of the horses.
Even from the small snippets of conversation between The Queen and her race manager, it is clear that the level of knowledge Her Majesty has of her horses is second to none. As Clare Balding mentions at the beginning of the programme, the first thing The Queen reads every day along with the day’s newspapers is her specially delivered copy of the Racing Post.
It is apparent that the love for horses is something that has passed down through the family. Princess Anne talks with Clare Balding about her success in riding professionally and how The Queen’s attitude in not culling the amount of horse racing she did (despite an accident during the Olympics, which the Princess recalls as almost like she was watching it happen to someone else) contributed to her success and that this removal of restraint is something that Princess Anne has employed on her own daughter, which has also led to great professional success.
She describes how her love of horses stems from a constant, saying “We were never introduced, they [horses] were always there”.
Zara, Princess Anne’s daughter, said, “they’re very special animals, you get friendships from them… It’s definitely a love that’s been passed down.”
We’re also shown exclusive and lesser seen clips (audio and video) of The Queen as a child with her first pony, Peggy, which was given to her by her grandfather, King George V, when she was just four years old. The Queen’s cousin, Margaret Rhodes, recalls how she and the then Princess Elizabeth would often play horses together, which she remarked that Princess Elizabeth ‘enjoyed enormously’, though she eventually found boring.
We hear commentary from one of the few interview style recordings The Queen has ever made, from earlier in her reign, where she explains her love for racing and how her father took her to see horses during the war, which developed her love for all horses.
It is also something that binds the family nowadays and something that all the family can share an interest in. Zara Phillips disclosed that the first person she calls after a horse event is her granny; The Queen. Zara sums up how the Royal Family have come to be so fond of horses: “because of her [The Queen’s] love and passion for horses, we’ve all grown up sitting on a horse.”
Clare Balding closes with, “From the first contact with a new born foal… to the uncertainties and the thrills of the race course, the horse world has shown us a more intimate side of The Queen”
Photo Credits: © BBC – Photographer: Grab & Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, © 2013