The Royal Windsor
A Short History
including All The Queen's Horses 2002
The Royal Windsor
Horse Show has been
a major attraction at Windsor since its inception in 1943 as
part of the national campaign, 'Wings for Victory'. This was
aimed at raising funds for RAF aircraft and Windsor contributed
almost £400,000 equivalent to 78 Typhoon aircraft, through
a variety of events around the town. The show was founded by
Count Robert Orssich and Mr Geoffrey
Cross and was known at that time as The Windsor Horse and Dog
Show. The show immediately enjoyed the patronage of George VI
and Queen Elizabeth and the two princesses, Elizabeth and Margaret,
being keen horse riders themselves, were competitors in the show.
is floodlit at night for the duration of the Horse Show.
Royal Windsor Horse Show
takes place in the middle of May and has grown substantially
in size and importance since the Second World War, not least
because of its wonderful setting beneath the walls of Windsor
It is a very fine sight indeed.
and her sister Margaret, taking part in a driving competition
in 1945 during the third Windsor Horse Show.
The Horse Show also enjoys
the support of the royal family and of course world class competitors
can be expected each year. HM The Queen is not only a regular
visitor and enthusiastic supporter, but also competed when Princess
Elizabeth. Princess Anne (Show Jumping) and the Duke of Edinburgh
(Carriage Driving) also competed very regularly.
Carriages in The
Windsor residents have
fond memories of the horse show, including the instigation of
the floodlit sessions and the magnificent fireworks displays
in more recent years that mark the end of the show for that year.
There is a wide variety of competitions for junior
and senior competitors covering all possible aspects of horsemanship
and country life generally. Show jumping is by far the most popular,
being a great spectator sport but carriage driving and displays
by a variety of working dogs are also enjoyed, especially by
the children who also delight in watching Shetland Pony races,
and their junior riders. The carriage driving competitions take
place primarily in the nearby Windsor Great Park although the
precise skills of Obstacle Course Driving take place in the Home
Perhaps the most exciting display is that by The
King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery featuring six teams of horses,
each pulling heavy artillery pieces and limbers, with no brakes!
Young soldiers, in their distinctive uniforms, take
their positions around the ring to act as markers for the riders.
It is not unknown for them to take a smart step or two backwards
as the teams of horses, limber and cannon career past them within
The finale of The King's
Troop display, where all six guns are fired, first individually
and then in unison, can be heard all over Windsor. After their
performance the six teams of The King's Troop exit the arena
at the charge, galloping at full speed to great cheers from the
audience. Heaven help
any one who gets in their way! In our view this display must
rank as one of the most exciting of any to be seen anywhere.
The Royal Horse
Artillery originally dates from 1793 but was mechanised in the
1930s. After the WWII, a mounted battery was reformed for ceremonial
purposes. In October 1947 it was renamed The King's Troop Royal
Horse Artillery by George VI, Queen Elizabeth retaining this
name in memory of her father. In 2002
the coffin of HM The Queen Mother was carried on the gun carriage from The King's Troop
that had been used to bear the coffin
of King George VI in 1952.The
gun carriage was also used for Princess
Diana's funeral cortege in 1997.
Horse Show moved to private
Home Park in 2005
In October 29th 2004 it was announced that
the Royal Windsor Horse Show would move from its home since its
inception in 1943 to a new location in the private area of the
Home Park which was enclosed in the late 1840s. In recent years
heavy rain has curtailed the show, and even caused its cancellation
when the show ground became too waterlogged to stage events.
On other occasions considerable damage was done to the pitches
in the Home Park where rugby is normally played necessitating
several months of careful renovation to the grass. In 2002, for
All the Queen's Horses, it was decided that a special arena would
be created which would allow the show to go on regardless of
the weather. As it turned out the weather was kind but it was
decided that a permanent all-weather arena would be a great benefit
and keep the Windsor show in the forefront of equestrian events.
The permanent arena was completed within the grounds of Windsor
Castle in April 2005.
Although the Horse Show is now held in a private
area of Windsor Castle's grounds, it remains open to the general
public with access by a specially built walkway and bridge from
the Home Park into the show ground.
All The Queen's Horses,
The King's Troop featured prominently in
May 2002 during the superb presentation All The Queen's Horses celebrating
Queen Elizabeth's Golden Jubilee on four evenings during The
Royal Windsor Horse Show.
A video of this very special event is now available. [DETAILS]
The concept of the show
was similar to the ill-fated
Pageant of the Horse
which was to have taken place in early
July 1997 in celebration of the Golden Wedding Anniversary of
HM The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh. Unfortunately the weather
intervened and the occasion had to be cancelled as the site was
just too waterlogged.
Queen's Horses was a spectacular night-time
theatrical extravaganza of dramatic proportions, set against
the magnificent backdrop of the floodlit Windsor Castle. All The Queen's Horses featured 1,000 horses, 2,000 participants, a 150
voice choir provided by St George's Chapel Choir and Windsor
& Eton Choral Society, a 75 piece orchestra, dancers and
Following the arrival of the royal guests
in the Ascot Landaus, the evening commenced with The Beginnings
of The Horse Show, recalling World War II, with the Pony Club,
horse drawn vehicles, pit ponies, riding schools, maypole dancers,
WWII vehicles and land army girls.
The Kings Troop
at All The Queen's Horses, May 2002
1947 was represented with the wonderful Ride of The
King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery.
The Kings Troop was followed by representations
of Foreign & Commonwealth Tours made by the Queen with The
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (The Mounties), North African Arabs,
Australian Jackeroos, Indian Cavalry, a mounted unit from Pakistan,
an American coach & team, The French Garde Republicaine and
Kenyan mounted police.
Next came the Racing Shetland Pony Grand National,
plus representations of The Hunt complete with hounds. The Queen's
love of horse racing was represented by point to pointers, race
horses, Ascot Landaus complete with equestrian celebrity passengers,
and Ascot gavotte dancers and singers.
Polo, a great love of the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince
Charles and more recently The Princes William and Harry, was
also on display with Mongolian hordes, polocrosse and horse ball,
disturbingly displaying its origins where a human head was used
instead of a ball.
Carriage Driving was represented with single, pair,
team and scurry, plus a variety of carriages, coaches and teams.
Scotland was recalled with Balmoral and Scottish
Scene Pipes and Drums, highland dancers, horse rangers, a side
saddle display, highland ponies, gamekeepers, dressage plus a
contingent from the Riding for the Disabled Association who were
As the climax to the evening approached, a Dream
Sequence was presented with circus horses, vaulting, high school
riders, a coloured horse carousel and the Duke of Edinburgh Pony
The arena now filled once more with carriages and
celebrity passengers and other with famous riders, followed by
the Massed Musical Rides by the Household Cavalry and Mounted
The Finale was of course The Gold State Coach with
all participants massing in the arena around the image of a Single
Perfect White Horse.
Coach starred in 'All The Queen's Horses' May 2002
The Gold State Coach
The Gold State Coach left London for the
first time since 1952 to take part in the Windsor show. The ceremonial
carriage, 24 feet (7.2m) long, was built by Samuel Butler in
1762 for George III. The coach was last used in 1977 during the
Silver Jubilee celebrations. It is reputed to have been insured
for £50m and is totally covered in gold leaf. It weighs
in the region of 4 tons.
The Coronation Coach on display
at The Royal Windsor Horse Show, May 2002.
The carriage cost £1,670
when it was built but it afforded an uncomfortable ride! The
original narrow wheels and minimal suspension led William IV
to claim it made him seasick, and Queen Victoria refused to ride
in it for most of her reign. After World War II the coach was
fitted with better suspension and a more comfortable interior
plus interior lighting so that all the spectators could have
a good view of the occupants.
The carriage is pulled by eight Windsor Greys. In
2002 there are currently eleven Windsor Greys in the Royal Stables.
Their names are St. Patrick, King's Troop, Auckland, Jubilee,
Britannia, Iceland, Dresden, Alderney, Hillsborough, Windhoek
The Coronation Coach concluded 'All The Queen's Horses' each
On the last evening, in recent years on
a Sunday, there is a magnificent Fireworks Display provided by
the sponsors. In recent years these have been Jaeger le Coultre
and Aspreys. The display is a splendid experience against the
backdrop of the floodlit Windsor Castle.
magnificent fireworks display beneath the castle walls
The audience are invited onto the arena itself to ensure
the very best view and once Heathrow Airport has given the all
clear (for many flights arrive and take off over Windsor Castle
these days), the display commences. In 2002 there was a further
delay as apparently one of The King's Troop horses had gone lame
on its way back to Combermere Barracks and so the fireworks were
held up while the Horse Ambulance collected the 'patient'.
The Royal Windsor
Horse Show is always a VERY special event judging by the number
of champagne bottles!
A note from the past
In 2001 the Horse Show
had to be cancelled due to an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease
in the UK.
For more information,
visit The Royal Windsor Horse Show Website
Click here for more about the Gold State Coach.
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