Jayne Dawson: Headscarf, horse, hack – we are galloping towards 90

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I mean, really what else is there to say except: “You go, girl”.

There she was, headscarf firmly knotted under chin, warm coat buttoned, legs astride her favourite horse. At the age of 88! Isn’t she magnificent?

I’m not taking the Michael, I actually mean it. I love the Queen. With each passing year I adore her more. I don’t know why exactly. I think it’s her timelessness, her refusal to change so much as her hairstyle in 60 years of reigning, her enduring sense of duty.

Plus, I like the way she wears those pastel coats with always the same pair of sensible black shoes.

And now I have this new reason to adore her: her refusal to get off her horse when she is galloping up to 90. For the Queen was pictured riding around Windsor Great Park only days ago.

And not only that, she was doing it without benefit of a helmet because the Queen doesn’t do helmets, has always refused to wear such a cissy object. She doesn’t exactly spit on them, because she’s the Queen, but, you know, she regards them with royal disdain.

And God forbid anyone should suggest a body protector to her. Her look would probably turn them to ice. Who could not love her?

My admiration is magnified because I’m trying a bit of riding myself, and personally I would feel safer wearing full body armour.

Admittedly I haven’t been on horseback since the age of four like the Queen, I was nearer fourty four when I first tried it, and that was quite some time ago now.

So I haven’t got much of what the riding fraternity call a seat. The Queen naturally has a very good one, and so does Camilla, apparently.

It’s one of the reasons Charles loves her.

But just recently I took up riding again, because my daughter wanted to learn and she required a stooge. She didn’t have a pony kind of a childhood, it was more watching telly at the childminders, so I’m trying to make up for it now by almost killing myself.

So far I have fallen off, slid down the horse’s side while in canter as if performing a circus act, and been forced to swiftly dismount to be sick. I like it though. The Queen doesn’t do any of that. She can even ride side-saddle, - which as far as I am concerned is an unnatural act - and did at Trooping the Colour for many decades.

She’s given that up now and who can blame her, those side saddles must be hell on earth - but she still has a regular hack round the royal grounds.

I know, I know, I can hear you saying it from here. She’s a woman who has lived a life of incredible privilege. If anyone should be trotting merrily through her first century it’s her.

But let’s at least acknowledge there are much richer people who live without public accountability or responsibility.

For her, it hasn’t always been cucumber sandwiches on the lawn. I can’t help but think that there is a certain amount of strain involved in being a constitutional monarch.

There has certainly been a lot of tiring standing around to do, quite a bit of it with the dead weight of a crown on her head, and they’re not light, you know.

And she has had to sit still for quite extraordinary amounts of time, making small talk out of the side of her mouth, while people have turned up to paint her, including at least one - Rolf Harris - who is now in prison.

And then there are those weekly audiences with the prime minister. Every Thursday afternoon, week after week, decade after decade. Can you imagine?

How to fill the time? How does anyone discuss the weather for six decades with thirteen different prime ministers - at least that’s how many it will be if the face changes this time.

The Queen has had to sit on the political fence for more than 60 years, her whole life has been one fabulous, admirable, balancing act between a public and a private life .

No wonder she has no trouble sitting on a horse.

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