In the 70 years of her reign, Elizabeth II’s relationship with sports was strong: it was she who awarded the world champion to the England national team in London in 1966, but the real sporting passion was always her beloved horses. She was the first person to breed Thoroughbreds whom I have always been jealous and caring about. Queen Elizabeth was also very skilled and well trained to ride horses. The Queen’s passion for horses was so well known that one of the UK’s major sporting events was the Royal Ascot: a racing day in her honor that was never missed and for which a strict dress code was imposed that included the use of a hat.
Among the sports that Queen Elizabeth loved, one could not miss those that were invented in England: football, or rather … football. She herself, in 2007, made it clear that she is a fan of a particular team, namely Arsenal. The Gunners were in fact the only team that was greeted at Buckingham Palace. It was Queen Elizabeth who awarded England’s World Championship title at Wembley in 1966. It was a moment that marked not only British football history but all sports across the Channel. It is actually the first, and so far only, World Cup that England has won. Her first match she witnessed as Sovereign was the 1953 FA Cup Final between Blackpool and Bolton. Even earlier, in 1945, she had already watched the Chelsea match live but she was still a princess at the time. His presence is also inevitable at the European Championship 1996, which was held in England. The King was on the field to watch the final match between Germany, then the event winner, and the Czech Republic, and before the match started, the King shook hands with all the players present.
Not at Wembley between England and Italy in the last European Championship, but before the final, the Queen sent a letter to Southgate coach: “55 years ago I was fortunate enough to hand the Rimmet Cup to Bobby Moore … Greetings, greetings from my family, to the team to reach final and send my sincere wishes for tomorrow, in the hope that history will remember not only the successes, but also the spirit, attachment and pride you have so far established.”
Not just football, England also has rugby among the most practiced sports which, inevitably, have a connection to Queen Elizabeth. King was in fact the sponsor of rugby football union, Welsh Rugby Union, the two major rugby entities in England and Wales. And it was Queen Elizabeth who awarded John Ailes, captain of Australia, at the final of the 1999 Rugby World Cup won by France. The event was held in Wales, so having the King in Cardiff was inevitable.
In addition to rugby, Elizabeth II has always been associated with tennis as well. Although, apparently, it was not one of her favorite sports, she was the patron of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet, the club that organizes Wimbledon. In fact, in the first 25 years of her reign, until 1977, the Queen visited Wimbledon on only three occasions. The next event dates back to 2010. Kate Middleton recently represented the royal family who left her sponsorship of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in 2017.
Elizabeth II was born when the first soccer world cup had not yet been played. King lived through 23 World Cups and 24 Summer Olympics. Among the many firsts that Queen Elizabeth has held are those she considers to be the first, and so far only, head of state to have inaugurated two editions of the Olympic Games in two different countries, Canada (Montreal 1976) and the United Kingdom (London 2012).
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