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Michael Morpurgo reveals how a childhood gift sparked the Queen’s love of horses

War Horse author Sir Michael Morpurgo has revealed how a ‘life-changing’ childhood gift from the Queen’s grandfather sparked Her Majesty’s love of horses which has spanned a lifetime. 

To celebrate the monarch’s impressive 70-year reign, the former children’s laureate is releasing a specially-written fairy story titled There Once Is A Queen, which details her fondness for the animal. 

The book, which will be brought to life through artists during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant next month, reveals how King George V gave the Queen a Shetland pony called Peggy aged four. 

Mr Morpurgo, 78, discovered what had sparked Her Majesty’s love for horses during a lunch in 2016, and told the Sunday Times how she spoke ‘very movingly’ about the animal. 

Pictured, A lady-in-waiting taking the then Princess Elizabeth and her younger sister Princess Margaret on a visit to Pets Corner at London Zoo in 1937

From her first appearance at the annual Trooping the Colour to 1986, the monarch would attend the ceremony on horseback. Then Princess Elizabeth is pictured during on of her early ceremonies

From her first appearance at the annual Trooping the Colour to 1986, the monarch would attend the ceremony on horseback. Then Princess Elizabeth is pictured during on of her early ceremonies 

‘She told me how it was to walk down to the yard and there was this horse and she would reach up and touch the neck’, he said. 

The renowned author went on: ‘Those were the words she used. She talked very, very movingly about her love for this horse. This was a life-changing moment. From that moment on, horses were going to be part of her life.’ 

Her Majesty’s fondness of horses began when she was just four after her grandfather, King George V, gave her a little Shetland pony. 

By the age of six she had fallen in love with riding, becoming an accomplished equestrian in her teenage years and has continued to ride for pleasure throughout her life. 

After discovering her love for horses, the Queen has continued to ride for pleasure throughout her life. Her Majesty is pictured horse riding through Windsor in 2015

After discovering her love for horses, the Queen has continued to ride for pleasure throughout her life. Her Majesty is pictured horse riding through Windsor in 2015 

From her first appearance at the annual Trooping the Colour to 1986, the monarch would attend the ceremony on horseback. 

She first attended the Royal Windsor Horse Show as a horse-mad teenager in 1943. Together with Princess Margaret, the 17-year-old showed off her equestrian prowess by winning the Pony & Dogcart class.

The Queen owns several thoroughbreds for racing after she initially inherited King George’s breeding and racing stock following his death in February 1952. 

In 1974, the monarch’s interest in horses was the subject of a documentary title, The Queen’s Race Horses: a Private View, which she herself narrated. 

Another documentary about Her Majesty’s love for the animal The Queen: a Passion for Horses was released in 2013, as part of the 60th Anniversary Coronation celebrations. 

The Royal Windsor Horse Show is a highlight of Her Majesty's annual calendar. The Queen is pictured talking to riders at the Windsor Horse Show in the 1970s

The Royal Windsor Horse Show is a highlight of Her Majesty’s annual calendar. The Queen is pictured talking to riders at the Windsor Horse Show in the 1970s

The Queen celebrated her most recent birthday with a photograph standing beside two of her favourite fell ponies, Bybeck Nightingale and Bybeck Katie

The Queen celebrated her most recent birthday with a photograph standing beside two of her favourite fell ponies, Bybeck Nightingale and Bybeck Katie

Among the highlights of the Queen’s calendar is the Royal Windsor Horse Show, an event that celebrates her love of the animal and is made even more special because it is held in the ‘back garden’ of Windsor Castle, where she now lives. 

While it’s unclear how many engagements the Queen will be able to carry out in person this year as she continues to struggle with mobility issues, organisers are still hopeful Her Majesty will attend. 

Mr Morpurgo’s book, due to be released next month, has inspired parts of the Platinum Pageant – which will take place on June 5th and see a host of volunteer performers parade through the streets of central London in honour of the Queen’s history.

Central London will come to life with colour, street theatre and dance in honour of the monarch’s long reign in what has been described as ‘something of a reopening ceremony for the United Kingdom’. 

Details of the pageant were revealed at were revealed at the official launch in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum in June last year. 

The monarch is pictured pinning an award on the winning horse at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2004

The monarch is pictured pinning an award on the winning horse at the Royal Windsor Horse Show in May 2004 

Organisers, including Pageant Master Adrian Evans said the event, with a budget of between £10 and £15 million and involving participants from across the UK and parts of the Commonwealth, is expected to be one of the biggest celebratory events held on home soil for decades.

Throughout the year, the Queen and members of the royal family will travel around the country attending a range of events to mark the milestone, culminating with the Platinum Jubilee Weekend. 

Buckingham Palace said 2022’s extended break will run from Thursday, June 2 to Sunday, June 5 after the May bank holiday – which would have been on Monday, May 30 – was pushed back. 

The four-day weekend will begin on the Thursday with Trooping the Colour, which will be staged in full for the first time since the pandemic, and a service of thanksgiving for the Queen’s reign will be held at St Paul’s Cathedral on the Saturday.  

Sunday’s pageant will comprise of three acts, with the first seeing both serving troops and veterans take part in a march along The Mall in front of Buckingham Palace.

The second act will also feature a puppet dragon larger than a double-decker bus with a wingspan the width of The Mall.

Others taking part will include a trapeze artist suspended underneath a huge balloon printed with an image of the Queen, as well as acrobats and other performers.

Nicholas Coleridge, co-chairman of the pageant, said: ‘The Platinum Jubilee weekend is an opportunity for the country to emerge re-energised and renewed, expressing optimism and confidence.

‘It will be something of a reopening ceremony for the United Kingdom, following a period of uncertainty and hardship, a catalysing moment of unity and fun.

‘Through the fusion of ceremonial and pageantry with razzmatazz and festival, we intend to create a spectacle that is at once energising and memorable and a fitting tribute to the Queen.’

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Read more at DailyMail.co.uk