Royalty at the Kentucky Derby

Yesterday marked the 139th Kentucky Derby and a horse named Orb claimed the top prize after a muddy and spirited race. Here’s a quick look at my Derby festivities:

photoWatching it all go down got me thinking about what royals have attended over the years, so I did a bit of a digging! Let’s take a look.

Prince Rainier of Monaco in 1963

This photograph was taken at The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia in April 1963, shortly before Prince Rainier made his way to Lexington where he watched a horse named Chateaugay win the Race for the Roses.

The West Virginia Encyclopedia
The West Virginia Encyclopedia

They all look ever so chic. It seems that Princess Grace and Albert and Caroline were visiting with Grace’s family in Philadelphia while the Prince enjoyed the Derby solo. This must explain why photos of the Prince in the stands are hard to come by…naturally, if Grace had been there there would have been several iconic shots.

Princess Margaret in 1974

Just under ten years later, Princess Margaret and her then husband the Earl of Snowdon paid a visit to the Derby. Margaret is pictured below awarding prizes and the Earl is in the dark suit to the right of the photograph.

Via The International Museum of the Horse

Via The International Museum of the Horse

This trip was part of a larger State Visit to Canada and the United States for the couple. It also included a stop in Winnipeg, where she celebrated the city’s centennial and handed out citizenship certificates to new Canadians, and New York City, where she dined with dignitaries at the Waldorf Astoria.

Prince Albert of Monaco in 2002

Prince Albert seems to have made up for his missed trip in 1963 by attending the Derby in 2002.

Yeah, that’s far from an awesome photo, but it’s all that could be found. Seriously! So, in lieu of a great photo, I give you this bit of trivia:

Prince Albert claims to be the only Prince out there to have visited all 50 of the United States. Yeah, that’s right.

Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip in 2007

In more recent memory, Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were guests of honor at the Derby in 2007 during a State Visit to the USA. This must have been a natural choice for the trip since the Queen has had a life long love of horses and horse racing.



During her visit, she walked through the trophy room to admire the prizes:


Fortunately for us, this stop has also been immortalized in the 2007 documentary ‘The Royal Family At Work.’ I recall there was quite a kerfuffle around making sure they got the right photos of the Queen at the Derby…it was a case of making it happen without annoying her. As I recall in the end they were only quasi-successful.

After the race, the Queen made a bit of a covert trip and snuck out of a side entrance. Here is some coverage of the event from a local news station.

Princess Haya & Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum (Prime Minister of Dubai and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates) in 2009

Via PA, taken at Ascot 2010

Via PA, taken at Ascot 2010

Princess Haya of Jordan is the Sheikh’s second wife and a very successful equestrian. Amidst her many other accomplishments, we discussed how she is a former Olympian in a past post which can be found here.
For his part, the Sheikh is a major player in the world of horse racing and breeding. According to NBC Sports, he has said that
“A love for horses runs in my blood,” Sheikh Mohammed has said. “Don’t forget that horses have been bred for centuries by Arabic tribes, they were used for hunting and fighting and they symbolize our history. Horse riding is more than merely sitting on a horse’s back. It is nobility and chivalry.”
Upstart Business Journal

Upstart Business Journal

Gainsborough Farms in Kentucky is one of the many stables he owns, and in 2009 he and Princess Haya attended the race to see two of his horses, Regal Ransom and Desert Party, take to the field.
A photo of the couple at that event are hard to come by, but one can be seen here. The Princess is standing behind the Sheikh.
In the end Regal Ransom came in 10th and Desert Party placed 19th, so his desire to win the Kentucky Derby continues.

Maybe next year?


Categories: British Royal Family, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, Royal Family of Jordan, Royal Family of Monaco


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