A waving Queen Elizabeth II in crimson red.

Happy birthday to horse lover Queen Elizabeth II

As a child, Elizabeth was given her first horse, a Shetland pony named Peggy, at age 4, which she was riding by the age of 6. By age 18 she was an accomplished rider, and has continued to ride for pleasure into her Diamond Jubilee year.

The future Queen Elizabeth II age 6 aboard her first horse, a Shetland pony called Peggy.

Ceremonial horses

In her role as monarch, Queen Elizabeth II has ridden in ceremonial roles, including the reigning monarch’s official public birthday celebration, Trooping the Colour.

From her first appearance as princess in 1947 and throughout her reign as queen until 1986, she attended the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony on horseback. Initially, she rode a bay police horse named Tommy in 1947.

When her father, King George VI, was unwell, she rode in his place on his chestnut horse Winston, and she rode Winston after George VI’s death. Later she rode a chestnut horse named Imperial. For eighteen consecutive years, from 1969 to 1986, her horse was a black mare named Burmese. Burmese was a gift from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. From 1987 onward, since Burmese retired, she has attended by carriage.

Burmese — A Royal Gift from Canada

In 1962, a coal black filly was born at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Remount Ranch in Fort Walsh, Saskatchewan. She quickly became a favourite of the recruits and was trained in the unique requirements of police protocols. She learned to cope with gunfire, crowds, pipes and drums, and obstacles thrown in her path. By age five, now known as Burmese, she was performing in the famed RCMP Musical Ride.

Burmese was half Thoroughbred, half Hanoverian. She was presented as a gift to Queen Elizabeth in 1969 when the RCMP was in the UK to perform at the Royal Windsor Horse Show. It was a way to honour the long-standing relationship with the Royal Family, given that the Queen is the RCMP’s honorary commissioner. Burmese quickly became one of the Queen’s favourite mounts. For 18 consecutive years she rode Burmese for Trooping the Colour, from 1969 to 1986. 

HM The Queen, Trooping the Colour 1980 on Burmese.
HM The Queen, Trooping the Colour on Burmese (1980). The Sovereign’s birthday is officially celebrated by this ceremonial pageant. It is also called the Queen’s Birthday Parade.
HM The Queen, Trooping the Colour on Burmese (1980). The Sovereign's birthday is officially celebrated by the ceremony of Trooping the Colour, also called the Queen's Birthday Parade.
HM The Queen salutes during Trooping the Colour aboard Burmese (1980).

During the 1981 Trooping the Colour, the Queen was mounted on Burmese when six blank shots rang out in the crowd. Burmese startled but the Queen expertly brought her under control.

Burmese was retired from public life in 1986. She was turned out to pasture at Windsor Castle where the Queen could see her frequently on visits. In 1990, at age 28, Burmese passed away and was buried on the grounds.

Statue of Queen Elizabeth II and her beloved Burmese, Regina, Saskatchewan.

To honour her equine partner, the Queen commissioned a bronze statue of herself mounted in classic sidesaddle on Burmese. The statue was unveiled in 2005 in front of the Saskatchewan Legislative building in Regina.

The 2020 Trooping the Colour Event is set to be held on June 13th.


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7 thoughts on “Happy birthday to horse lover Queen Elizabeth II”

  1. I thought I had a different view so I give you the first sentence from a Wikipedia

    “From an early age, Queen Elizabeth II has had a keen interest in horses. Into her reign this has developed into one of her main leisure time activities, with a particular emphasis on the breeding of thoroughbreds for horse racing.”

    Horse lover, eh?

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      1. She is a racing fan and breeder. I’ve heard you can love horse racing or love horses but you can’t do both. My position is to outlaw the carnage entirely.

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        1. In the U.S., no doubt about it. They dope, maim and kill racehorses continually. I was a racing photographer in England for years, and still have many contacts there. HM still sets the standard for racehorse care in that part of the world. She is quite alone in that. Leaders of other racing nations could care less. I wish her daughter did better. Anne has actually advocated for more horse slaughter.

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