Queen Elizabeth II of England recently celebrated her 96th birthday. She used her social media platforms to share a new official portrait with the public to commemorate the event. On the grounds of Windsor Castle, the queen is seen standing between two of her white fell ponies, Bybeck Katie and Bybeck Nightingale. She’s wearing in a dark green coat, which is also the livery color of her late husband, Prince Phillip. (The prince died on April 9, 2021, just over a year ago.)
There’s more to this shot than meets the eye. The horses aren’t only noble beasts picked to accompany the ruler. Their presence is an homage to Queen Elizabeth’s longstanding passion for animals. She and her sister, Margaret, were given their first pony when they were four years old, and the queen continued to ride horses around the grounds of Windsor Castle until last year.
Queen Elizabeth is also a patron and avid viewer of the annual Royal Windsor Horse Show, as indicated in the Instagram comment; in fact, she has attended every single show since it began in 1943. Henry Dallal, a photographer famed for his photos of horse beauty, took this photograph.