In Tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II


It is with deepest sorrow that RBST marks the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with this short reflection on her important, wide-ranging and much-valued commitment to our rare and native livestock and equine breeds.

It is well known that Her Majesty was incredibly knowledgeable about equines, a lifelong rider and a very experienced breeder. Her extensive breeding programmes have made hugely important contributions to the survival of a number of our rare and native breeds, including Highland and Shetland ponies at the Balmoral Estate, Fell Ponies at Hampton Court, and Cleveland Bays as part of Her Majesty’s Carriage Breeding programme at The Royal Paddocks, Hampton Court. A number of Breed Societies benefited greatly from her patronage over many decades, including the Fell Pony Society, the Highland Pony Society, the Cleveland Bay Horse Society and the Shire Horse Society.

Her Majesty the Queen’s love of horses and ponies was renowned, a constant presence throughout her life: from keeping Fell Ponies as a girl, to the many joyous photographs over recent years of Her Majesty alongside or riding her native breed ponies. It is fitting that Her Majesty was photographed alongside two favourite Fell ponies to mark her 96th birthday earlier this year. Her Majesty’s extensive work with Highland Ponies marked a continuation of the dedication to this breed shown by Queen Victoria.

Her Majesty’s work and action on behalf of rare and native breeds are too many to mention them all but to pick out a highlight, Her Majesty The Queen was absolutely instrumental in saving the Cleveland Bay horse breed in the 1960s. When she bought one of the few remaining stallions she sparked a renewal of interest in the breed which desperately needed help. Her long-standing support for the rare breed has continued with her vital Carriage Breeding programme at the Royal Paddocks in Hampton Court.

At the royal farms Her Majesty kept a variety of native cattle breeds, including Highlands at the Balmoral Estate and Jersey and Sussex cattle at Windsor. The multi-generational commitment to native breeds in the Royal Family is unparalleled: The Queen Mother kept Orpington chickens, Princess Anne keeps Gloucestershire Old Spot Pigs as well as her own Orpingtons, and RBST has long been honoured by the patronage and wonderful support of His Majesty King Charles III under his former title of The Prince of Wales.

Her Majesty the Queen’s very practical, dedicated and immensely valued contribution to the survival of our native breeds exemplifies her life of service to our nation. We will always be immeasurably grateful for her service and generosity to rare breeds, and the remarkable legacy she leaves for the generations to come.

We send our sincere condolences to His Majesty King Charles III and The Queen Consort, and to all the Royal Family. 

RBST will pay tribute to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in a forthcoming issue of The Ark magazine, we invite RBST members to share their memories and experiences of Her Majesty at [email protected].