The Queen, who celebrates her 90th birthday today, is a true country woman at heart.
The Queen once said that if she had not become Queen she would have liked to be a lady living in the country with lots of horses and dogs.
As we celebrate the Queen at 90, we have found ten reasons why the Queen is a true champion of country sports and the countryside.
Still riding at 90
When she was Lilibet and not yet destined to be our Queen she used to ride pretend horses around her bedroom. According to her governess, Marion Crawford, she would tie her dressing-gown cord to the posts of her bed and take her horses once or twice around Windsor Park before bed. Now, at the exceptional age of 90, she is still riding! She regularly rides her Fell ponies with her head groom Terry Pendry.
Fair weather rider
In the ITV documentary filmed to celebrate this momentous occasion, the Queen is seen planning her weekly diary and carefully scheduling in time to ride on a Friday – weather permitting of course. “I am quite a fair weather rider – I don’t like getting cold and wet.”
The humble headscarf is the crown of the countryside
The Queen never wears a hard hat when riding and out in the countryside but opts for a Hermés scarf in order to keep her hair in place for subsequent engagements.
Not a shy picker-up
On the first pheasant shoot of 2000, the Queen was watching (she doesn’t shoot) when a Labrador brought her an injured bird, she took it from the dog’s mouth and killed it herself. The palace had to defend her actions, saying that her actions were not cruel and she was merely ending the bird’s suffering. She’s clearly not afraid to get stuck in!
Corgis in the field
Young Elizabeth would take the corgis out onto the grouse moors at Balmoral. They were really good at locating the birds but not so good at retrieving them, so the Queen would go in and retrieve them herself.
Devotion to gundogs
You might think that the Queen is a corgi woman but she holds Labradors very dearly in her heart too. Her grandfather founded the Sandringham strain of black Labradors in 1911 but the kennels at Sandringham date back to Edward VII’s days in 1879. All puppies born at Sandringham are personally named by the Queen.
Grouse at Balmoral, partridge at Sandringham
The Queen’s gundogs travel to Balmoral with her for her long summer break in the Highlands. The Queen’s former headkeeper Bill Meldrum remembered how Labradors and spaniels are put into lorries and driven through the night so that the Queen’s gundogs were available for grouse shoots. He said: “If I didn’t go to Balmoral with at least 22 dogs, I was in trouble!”
Field trials champion
The Queen has hosted the Cocker Spaniel Championships at Sandringham, most recently in 2013. She has owned 16 Labrador Retriever field trial winners and 1 Cocker Spaniel field trial winner.
The photograph that Shooting Times photographer, Paul Quagliana took of her at the Championships in 2008 even featured in the back ground of her 2015 Christmas Day speech.
Bill Meldrum described the Queen as “very keen and was a very good handler and picker-up.” Royal watchers believe that the Queen has such a good relationshop with dogs because she did not go to school as a child so the dogs were her playmates and companions growing up.
Happy 90th Birthday ma’am