Despite being the longest serving British monarch, the private life and interests of Queen Elizabeth II remain relatively shrouded in mystery.
However, her love of all things equine is well-known, from ceremonial riding in her younger years to her keen interest in horse breeding and racing – more of which can be seen in this Queen Elizabeth documentary. But does this translate into a love of Formula 1 racing?
The Queen first learnt to drive during the Second World War when she drove a first-aid truck in the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service. Despite having access to all manner of exotic vehicles, this early experience perhaps led to her love of a more agricultural model – the Land Rover Defender. She has regularly been spotted at the wheel of her custom made example on the Sandringham Estate.
There have been a number of royal links to F1 racing over the years. In 1975, Prince Philip was pictured engaged in lighthearted banter with the roguish future F1 world champion James Hunt on the grid at the British Grand Prix. At the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2005, the Renault F1 team paid homage to the Queen by programming one of their cars to play God Save The Queen via it’s engine exhaust note. The display was as bizarre as it was impressive, and would no doubt have raised a smile had she witnessed it. The Queen’s grandson, Prince Harry, enjoyed a tour of the Williams racing team’s pit garage in 1994 by their driver David Coulthard, and in 2014, spoke directly to Lewis Hamilton over the team radio following his win in Abu Dhabi.
The Queen’s personal involvement with the sport has centred around the fortunes of Hamilton who is currently one championship win away from a record eight titles. After securing his seventh, he received a message of congratulations from the Queen’s official Twitter account with Hamilton describing it as ‘an incredible honour.’ Their first interaction came in 2009 when he was presented with an MBE and an invitation to a private lunch. Sitting directly to the Queen’s left and unaware of the minutiae of royal etiquette, Hamilton attempted to start a conversation but was gently informed by Her Majesty that he should first speak to the guest on his left. He would later sum up their meeting by saying, “She is a sweet woman, and we talked about how she spends her weekends, houses and music. She is really cool.” An even higher accolade followed in 2020 when Hamilton was awarded a knighthood as part of the Queen’s new year’s honours list.
In 2019, F1 bosses considered the possibility of holding a race around the streets of London. The initial plan was to hold the event in the east of the city, but the Red Bull team principal, Christian Horner, insisted that any race in the capital must include a view of Buckingham Palace. Ultimately, the event never got off the ground, but had it been successful, the Queen would have enjoyed front row seats.