Queen Elizabeth II was a horse girl. Her mother was a horse girl too. Both mother and daughter were obsessed with everything about horses and horse racing and horse breeding. QEII spent decades building her stable of champion racehorses. Her horses were one of her biggest passions and greatest loves. Her children and many of her grandchildren are keen on horses too, from polo ponies to show-jumping horses to race horses. Charles played polo for years, as did his sons. Anne is an accomplished equestrian, as is her daughter Zara. So it definitely seems weird that in recent weeks, there’s been so much conversation about “what will Charles do with his mother’s horses?” The horse operation belongs to him entirely, but he could easily pass everything off to his wife, or to Anne, or William or even the Wessexes. Instead, Charles has decided to sell off some his mother’s collection: he’s selling fourteen broodmares.
BBC News reports that the King is selling 14 of the late monarch’s ‘brood mares’ through Tattersalls auction house in Newmarket, including celebrated runners Just Fine (trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the man behind over 100 royal winners) and Love Affairs. As well as being a keen rider and an eager racegoer – often spotted cheering on her runners from Ascot’s Royal Enclosure – the Queen took an active interest in breeding racehorses at Sandringham’s Royal Stud, which she inherited from her own father, King George VI.
Tattersall spokesman Jimmy George stressed that the Royal Family would be continuing their close ties to the sport, stating: ‘It’s nothing out of the ordinary. Every year they would sell horses. The Queen had brood mares of her own, she would breed them and sell them. You can’t keep them all… Every year owners sell stock. His Majesty is just doing what owners do.’
The monarch’s former racing manager John Warren once described horses as a ‘tremendous getaway’ for the monarch, reflecting: ‘I’m sure if the Queen had not been bred into being a monarch she would have found a vocation with horses. It was just simply in her DNA.’ He credited her role in championing the sport with helping to raise the profile of British racing.
They’re trying to put a bow on it, but the most likely scenario here is that King Charles isn’t going to “pass off” any part of the operation to a family member, and he’ll simply sell off his late mother’s horses in smaller groups. And for what purpose? Even if horses aren’t your bag, if your mother spent decades breeding horses and it was one of her great passions and investments, wouldn’t you try to maintain her stable? Especially since Charles has the money and personnel to do just that – it’s not like he’s the one feeding them and mucking about in the stables, for goodness sake. This is pointed – he’s actively destroying the one thing his mother truly loved.
I tweeted about this yesterday, but for all of the talk of how the Sussexes “upset” QEII for this or that and how Liz would be “turning in her grave” over something to do with Harry and Meghan, THIS is actually what would bother her: her son selling off all of her precious horses. And Charles is doing it specifically because his mother loved her horses so much.
Photos courtesy of Instar, Avalon Red, Cover Images and Andrew Milligan / Avalon.