From handing World Cup to Bobby Moore to London 2012 ‘parachuting’, The Queen added grandeur to iconic sporting moments
SHE handed the Jules Rimet Trophy to Bobby Moore, she “parachuted” out of a helicopter at the London Olympics opening ceremony and she refused Dennis Lillee an autograph at an Australia v England Test match.
While The Queen’s genuine passion for sport did not extend far beyond her beloved horse racing and the Highland Games at Braemar, Her Majesty was present for many momentous occasions.
And she could also claim a daughter and a granddaughter as BBC Sports Personality of the Year winners — both Princess Anne and Zara Tindall claiming the coveted gong for their achievements in equestrian.
A decade ago, The Queen stole the show in Danny Boyle’s 2012 Olympic opening ceremony, where Daniel Craig — as James Bond — was seen arriving at Buckingham Palace to escort the monarch into a chopper.
Her Majesty delivered the line “Good evening, Mr Bond” before her stunt double was seen leaping out of the aircraft over the stadium in Stratford, before The Queen herself arrived to take her seat, with the Duke of Edinburgh alongside her.
This sketch — kept secret even from the rest of the Royal family — was a key part of a ceremony, widely regarded as a triumph, which led to a golden summer for British sport.
Back in 1966, the image of The Queen in a mustard hat and coat handing the World Cup to England captain Moore — after the 4-2 victory over West Germany — is one of the most iconic images in English sporting history.
And even in his finest hour, Moore was a stickler for etiquette.
Hat-trick hero Sir Geoff Hurst said: “Bobby noticed The Queen was wearing gloves.
“He had the foresight not to dirty The Queen’s gloves. He wiped his hands just before he collected the trophy.”
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The long-serving monarch also dished out the silverware at several FA Cup finals — from Blackpool’s 4-3 victory over Bolton in the Matthews Final of 1953, her Coronation year, through to the 1976 final when second-division Southampton shocked Manchester United.
In recent years, her grandson Prince William — the President of the FA and a keen Aston Villa fan — has usually done the honours at English domestic football’s showpiece event.
Her Majesty never revealed any footballing allegiances.
West Ham fans believed she was one of their own, although Prince Philip denied it when asked by Hammers co-owner Karren Brady, and Cesc Fabregas once claimed she had admitted to supporting Arsenal.
The Queen was a regular at Lord’s Test matches throughout the majority of her reign, attending 26 of them, with her husband Prince Philip an avid cricket fan, a keen player in his youth and a former MCC president.
England and the visiting team usually lined up on the outfield to shake hands with Her Majesty during the tea interval, before sending her off with three “hip, hip hoorays”.
But during the 1977 Centenary Test between Australia and England in Melbourne, Aussie fast bowler Lillee broke with protocol to ask The Queen for her autograph — even having pen and paper handy.
The monarch politely declined, although a signed photo was sent to Lillee days later.
Despite Wimbledon’s regal feel and its proximity to Buckingham Palace, The Queen was not a tennis fan — only ever attending the Championships on four occasions.
But these occasional visits did include the 1977 ladies’ singles final, when Virginia Wade became the most recent British woman to win the title.
Despite her relative lack of interest in most mainstream sports, The Queen was a devoted attendee of the Highland Games at Braemar — held close to Balmoral Castle during her regular summer stay there — where she is said to have genuinely enjoyed the caber-tossing and tug-of-war.
The Commonwealth Games were also close to her heart, as a symbol of the group of nations — mainly former British Empire colonies — of which she was the Head.
But horse racing was by far and away The Queen’s favourite sport and although her racing manager John Warren described her as a “small fish in a huge pond” and “very much a second division owner”, her horses won four of the five English classics
Only The Derby eluded Her Majesty — although in 2011 her horse, Carlton House, went in as favourite only to lose a shoe on the Epsom Downs and ended up finishing third.
Warren insisted The Queen read the Racing Post every morning and watched recordings from Channel 4 Racing and the Racing Channel most evenings.
While her attendances at other sporting events understandably became less frequent during her latter years, Royal Ascot remained one of her favourite occasions of the year.
The “sport of kings” was very much the sport of The Queen — but her attendance at many other major events added extra grandeur.
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