Queen Elizabeth mourns another icon . Her Majesty suffers yet another setback as Sir Michael Oswald, the Queen’s former manager of the Royal Studs, died at the age of 86.
For almost 30 years, Sir Michael had been an advisor to Her Majesty, 94, the Queen Mother, and presided over their racing interests.
According to The Times, he died on April 17 after a long illness, the same day as the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in Windsor.
Sir Michael was often photographed by the Queen’s side at numerous races over the years, and when the Duchess of Cambridge made her long-awaited debut at Royal Ascot in 2016, she was also photographed conversing with the professional.
Sir Michael’s widow, Lady Angela – who served as a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother for many years – paid tribute to her husband in an interview with the Racing Post.
Honours list, he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) (GCVO).
Sir Michael would often tell the story of a horse his employer had in training named Harvest Song, demonstrating the Queen’s great sense of humour and their close friendship.
At 10 a.m. one day, he called her page, Barry Mitford, at Buckingham Palace to inform him that it was running in the 2.30 at Fontwell and that it was on television in case they wished to watch or film it for her.
‘Barry got very excited about this, wondering whether it will happen and whether he should bet on it,’ he says. ‘I told him he shouldn’t spend much money on it because I had a better chance of winning the 100m at the Olympics.’
Harvest Song entered the race as a 50-1 longshot and won by five and a half lengths.
‘Oh yeah, and may I mention that Barry is standing next to me,’ she responded when Sir Michael later called the Queen to see whether she had seen the race. If I were you, I’d get some dark glasses and a decent mask the next time I came close to this place.
Sir Michael, who was born in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in 1934 and attended Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, was hired as the manager of the Royal Studs in 1969, and managed it from Hampton Court for six years.
Later, he retired to the Sandringham estate in Norfolk, where the Queen’s racing celebrated a glorious era in the 1970s, with top performers including Highclere, the winner of the One Thousand Guineas and the French Oaks.
The Queen learnt to ride a horse at the age of three, and equestrian activities remain one of the royal family’s interests.
Sir Michael previously said of the Queen’s concern, “There was never a finer and more intelligent owner to answer to.”
Sir Michael cherished his work with the Queen and Queen Mother’s horses, according to Nicky Henderson, a royal jump horse trainer, who told the Racing Post that he was very loyal to both royals.
Sir Michael, he said, would go ‘almost everywhere’ to watch Her Majesty’s horses race, even though he was in his eighties.
‘The Queen had once said to me that there was need to stop Michael from touring the country.’ I did made it clear that she’s the only one who could do that.’ Mr Henderson said.
The trainer also announced that they once won a Paddy Power-sponsored race for the Queen at Sandown, and that they had made three bronze sets of pants as trophies.
‘They were all set up on the table for the presentations when they realized that handing the Queen a pair of bronze pants could be considered unacceptable, so they took the trophy away and replaced it with a vase.’
‘Sir Michael made it clear he wanted the pants not the vase and declared he would be driving them straight to Windsor Castle. The next morning, I met with the Queen, who said the award had delighted the Duke of Edinburgh,’ Mr Henderson recalled.
Sir Michael’s death follows the death of the Queen’s beloved 73-year-old husband, Prince Philip, on April 9th, at the age of 99.
Due to Covid-19 laws, he was laid to rest in Windsor on Saturday in a simple funeral attended by only 30 people.
During the pandemic, the Queen set a precedent by sitting away from family members gathered around St George’s Chapel, adhering to stringent social distancing laws.