If you had the opportunity to do one thing with a member of the royal family, what would it be? Perhaps you would go on a shopping trip with Kate Middleton, have tea with King Charles III, or visit Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at their home in California.
Turns out, Ronald Reagan had one thing he wanted to do more than anything else with Queen Elizabeth II back in the ’80s. Of course, the president got his wish!
During Reagan’s 1982 European Tour, the president had a few items he wanted to cross off his bucket list, but his top priority was riding horseback with the queen. Since the former monarch was a huge fan of horseback riding, she granted the president’s wish.
The two enjoyed a 30-minute ride on the grounds of Windsor Castle. For the ride, the queen rode a horse named Burmese, which had been given to her by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. On the other hand, Reagan rode on a black gelding named Centennial.
A ‘Fairy Tale Experience’ For Reagan
Since the president had been a movie star before becoming the world leader, he was always up for a photoshoot. This time was certainly no different. Breaking protocol, Reagan asked the queen to speak with him atop their horses in front of the hopeful media and photographers. Of course, this was famously something the former monarch never did.
Apparently, Reagan had planned all along to ask the queen to do so. According to royal historian Robert Hardman, the president had reasons for this request. “The emphasis [of Reagan’s visit] was on informality, even though the Reagans’ stay would include a state banquet and an address to both Houses of Parliament,” Hardman explained.
The historian went on to share, “Foreign Office files, newly released after a Freedom of Information request, reveal that President Reagan had singled out one event above all others as the most important element of the entire presidential grand tour of Europe: the prospect of riding with the queen in Windsor Home Park.”
Turns out Reagan was very intentional about being seen horseback riding with the queen. As Hardman said, “Over the next few weeks, numerous confidential memos flew to and fro across the Atlantic about the president’s ideal horse, saddle and riding style, along with ideas for dinner guests at the queen’s banquet.”
Apparently the experience more than lived up to Reagan’s expectations. The president even wrote in his diary that the trip to Windsor was magical and a “fairy tale experience.”