QUEEN ELIZABETH II is a well-known horse-lover, but some of the horses who served her in ceremonies were sold to slaughterhouses, unearthed reports reveal.
Outrage broke out from animal lovers across the nation when it was reported in 1969 that horses used in British state ceremonies were sold to slaughterhouses after they retired. Crucially, these were not horses owned by the Queen personally, but those in the Household Cavalry, who carry the Queen’s uniformed guards. These famous ceremonial horses, ridden by troops and gold-rimmed trumpeters in plumed hats, are feature attractions in the Changing of the Guard, coronations and state processions.
According to the International Herald Tribune on November 19, 1969, a Ministry of Defence spokesman confirmed reports that some over-age Household Cavalry horses were being sold for slaughter.
While horsemeat is not usually eaten by Britons, it is commonly eaten in some countries across the world.
It was believed the meat from Household Cavalry horses were being sold to Europe.
Top officials at the Ministry of Defence reportedly called an emergency meeting to deal with the report, which ran as a front page headline in the Daily Mirror, saying ‘Queen’s Horses To Be Sold for Meat’.
Queen Elizabeth II and members of the Household Cavalry (Image: GETTY)
Queen Elizabeth II riding a horse during the coronavirus lockdown (Image: GETTY)
A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: “It has nothing to do with us ‒ it’s an Army matter.”
Reports at the time claimed about 60 horses were retired each year from the Household Cavalry and Royal Horse Artillery.
Around 15 of these were said to be sold to riding clubs, while the remainder were killed in slaughterhouses.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The horses have been conditioned all their lives to parades and the noise of London.
The Queen famously loves horses (Image: GETTY)
“They would not be at all appy to retire into the quiet of the countryside and we think this is the most humane end for them.”
It is unknown whether the Queen approved of this or not and whether the practice still occurs.
However, a UK charity called World Horsfare stated in 2017 said: “There have been no declarations of horses being exported for slaughter for many years; however, we question the reality of this as horses and ponies are exported for a variety of reasons and there is no way to guarantee that a horse declared as being exported for riding will not be sold at a market for meat.
“Until there is a full traceability within and without the UK it is a challenge to truly know where exported horses end up and it would be difficult to enforce a ban on export to slaughter.”
A young Queen riding a horse (Image: GETTY)
Horses are a lifelong passion for the Queen, who still rides even at the age of 94.
She had her first riding lesson at the age of three and was given her first pony, a Shetland mare, by her grandfather King George V when she turned four.
She has owned many race horses over the years, avidly follows the sport and attends Royal Ascot every year, among visits to other races too.
She also passed on her passion to her daughter Princess Anne, who went on to be the European Eventing Champion in 1971.
She, in turn, passed on the love to her daughter Zara Tindall, who won the World Eventing Championship in 2006.
Both Anne and Zara were awarded BBC Sports Personality of the Year for their achievements.
In 2014, the Queen was presented with the International Equestrian Federation Lifetime Achievement Award.
The organisation’s President, Princess Haya of Jordan said: “Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is a lifelong lover of horses who has inspired millions around the world.
“She is a true horsewoman, who still rides whenever state business allows, and her knowledge of breeding and bloodlines is incredible.”
Source: EXPRESS CO UK