Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 1926 - 2022
In a very literal sense, we are living through the end of an era with the passing of our beloved monarch. Our second Elizabethan reign has come to an end.
After 75 years on the throne she is the only monarch the vast majority of her subjects will have known. It was a reign characterised by steadfast adherence to the highest standards of public life, an example to every one of her subjects. Her ability to navigate a rapidly changing world and provide a constant source of clarity and calm was profound.
Queen Elizabeth gave us three quarters of a century of unstinting service and set a benchmark for standards in Royal life that will challenge her successors forever. She carried us through war, recessions and pandemics with a depth and strength of character that was always an inspiration. But it might be some of the incidental stories that last longest... her famous night out with her sister on VE day when she joined the celebrations and danced at the Ritz. A sense of fun that she never lost and we all saw again when she appeared with Daniel Craig as he reprised his James Bond role for her Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
Horses were always her passion. She was a regular visitor to Royal Ascot in June and her famous colours of purple and red enjoyed victories there throughout her reign. In 1953, a year after her coronation, she very nearly took the Derby... Aureole came in second denied by Gordon Richards on Pinza. The Derby would remain the only Classic her Majesty never won as an owner.
Her record at Ascot was impressive despite that as she celebrated 24 winners including the 2013 Gold Cup. Her career as owner and breeder was studded throughout with some legendary horses. Carozza, with Lester Piggot on board, took the Oaks in 1957 in a year that would finish with her Majesty as the leading owner. Her 24th, and last, Royal Ascot winner came 67 years after her first when Tactical got home in the Windsor Castle Stakes.
Her passing leaves a tear in the fabric of our sport which seems impossible to repair. It reflects the tear in the fabric of our nation as we try to come to terms with losing this remarkable monarch.
We can all draw on Queen Elizabeth's stoicism to help us through, even as we welcome her son, Charles !!!, as our new King.
Long live the King.