Excerpts from Indra Vikram Singh’s book ‘A Maharaja’s Turf’ ….. 5 – The Royal Procession


At the head of the great cosmopolitan assembly on the Epsom Course were King George V and Queen Mary. Their Majesties left Buckingham Palace by car at 12.20 p.m. Just before the King’s car drove out of the garden gate, Prince Albert and Princess Elizabeth – the Duke and Duchess of York – who later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, parents of the present Queen Elizabeth II; and Princess Mary – the Princess Royal – and her husband Lord Harewood, drove into the palace quadrangle. Their cars waited at the side of the forecourt and then as the royal car drove out, followed in procession. Prince Henry – the Duke of Gloucester – who was staying at Buckingham Palace, was in one of the cars. One of Queen Victoria’s great-grandsons, King George II of Greece – then in exile but destined to become monarch again the next year – also travelled with the royal party. The King and Queen led the procession of royal cars from London to Epsom, each of which had a crown on the front for the guidance of traffic police.

A large crowd assembled at the back of the stands to witness the arrival of the King and Queen who received a tremendous ovation. Some had been waiting more than an hour. The royal party arrived at the stands at one o’clock and as their Majesties alighted amid light rain a great cheer went up. The royal visitors were received by the stewards Lord Lonsdale, Lord Rosebery and the Marquess of Crewe. They immediately walked to the royal apartments in the grandstand, where lunch had been prepared for them. The Prince of Wales, who succeeded his father just about a year and a half later as King Edward VIII, but abdicated within eleven months, choosing marriage to the twice-divorced American Mrs. Wallis Simpson; and Prince George – Duke of Kent – motored to Epsom from Fort Belvedere, Sunningdale, reaching just in time to see the second race. Interestingly, the Prince of Wales, after his abdication as King in 1936, became Duke of Windsor. Prince and Princess Arthur of Connaught, and Prince and Princess Christian of Hesse and their young daughter, Princess Augusta, also attended.

The King wore morning clothes and a silk hat. The Queen was in a dress of delicate pearl grey wool georgette with a vest of chiffon – on which a large aquamarine and diamond brooch were pinned – with a toque to match.

Stafford Sentinel reported: “The King raised his hat again and again to the cheers, and the Queen bowed. The Duchess of York was a smiling figure in blue with a white fox collar. The Princess Royal wore a broad-brimmed green hat with a costume of the same colour. Mounted police and other officers had some difficulty in clearing a path along the road for the royal cars.”

When he entered the royal box, the King, without a single detective to guard him while he watched the race, congratulated Lord Lonsdale on not being hurt. Glasgow Bulletin observed, “During the proceedings, the King, the Queen, the Prince of Wales, and most of the royal party had gazed down from their high vantage point, observing the great demonstration and appearing extremely pleased with all they saw.”

The first of the two selling races with which the afternoon’s programme was begun, the Ranmore Selling Plate, was won with ease by Bach, finishing six lengths ahead of False Point and Spaniard, who dead-heated for second place. There was an exciting finish to the Wallington Selling Plate, the Maytide filly making all the running and holding off a strong challenge by Flanagan to win by a neck. The favourite, Deceptive, was third.

The nervous moments before the big race seemed like eternity, not the least to the eager Maharaja.

(Author Indra Vikram Singh can be contacted on email singh_iv@hotmail.com).

A Maharaja's Turf cover (front )A Maharaja’s Turf 

ISBN 978-81-901668-3-6

Distributed in India by:  Variety Book Depot, AVG Bhawan, M-3, Middle Circle, Connaught Circus, New Delhi-110001, India. Tel. + 91 11 23417175, 23412567.

Follow Indra Vikram Singh on Twitter @IVRajpipla.

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