As a prelude to the London 2012 Olympics, the Royal Windsor Horse Show would make a lovely a day trip from London. For a few days each year, commoners have the opportunity to stroll the grounds of Windsor Castle’s Home Park, when the usually private Eastern acreage at Windsor Castle hosts 3,000 horses—and 60,000 spectators—for the Horse Show.
The Royal Windsor Horse Show has been an annual fixture for which the Royal Family have a great affection. The first show was held in 1944 with King George VI as the patron, and has had the advantage of royal backing ever since. Princess Elizabeth (now our current Queen) won the Single Private Driving on her pony Hans and Princess Margaret won the Wartime Utility Driving Class on the King’s Fell pony Gipsy that first year.
CHANCE OF ROYAL SIGHTING: Guaranteed, but you’ll probably spot only the more senior royals. (Read: The Princes and Kate haven’t attended yet.) As patrons of the show, Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh will be in regular attendance throughout the week. What’s more, the Maj will be pretty relaxed—she’s very much in her element here. A few lucky victors will even have their prizes presented to them by the regent herself. No curtsy required—riders don’t even need to dismount!
NOTEWORTHY COMPETITIONS: The R.W.H.S. certainly offers the whole gamut of contests, from the newly introduced amateur class to Grand Prix jumping. The event has strong ties to the British military, so for spectators seeking the ultimate in militant arts, may we recommend tent pegging, where riders charge small targets at a gallop and attempt to scoop them up with a lance of sorts (watch a short video of it here).
WHERE TO SIT: The Members’ Enclosure, of course. No invite required, just the purchase of a ticket. The exclusive area boasts a restaurant, private bar, and raised deck. It’s the same sort of people who go in there every year, so you know you’ll be in good company. Take note though: no ticket will get you into the Royal Enclosure—that area is for senior military personnel, Windsor house guests, and other royal invites.
DRESS CODE: Look smart in the Members’ Enclosure. General entry? Come as you are.
Watch vintage clips of the event here.