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Queen Elizabeth made a surprise appearance among the crowds at the Windsor Horse Show on Friday.
The reigning monarch was driven from her Windsor Castle home to see three of her Fell ponies participate in the race. The 96-year-old was all smiles as she comfortably watched from her Range Rover. She later became overjoyed when one of her ponies, Balmoral Leia, won the Highland Class.
The beaming queen dressed down for the outing, sporting a sweater and collared shirt. She completed her look with bright pink lipstick. After being driven to the main area, she was spotted walking slowly to a lift using a walking stick. She sat down in the stands with her son Prince Edward. Her great-granddaughter, Lady Louise Windsor, was in the saddle of Prince Philip’s carriage as she led a parade through the arena.
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It is the first time Elizabeth has been seen in public since she attended the Service of Thanksgiving honoring her late husband in March. The Windsor Horse Show is one of her favorite annual events and she typically attends.
On Tuesday, the queen missed the State Opening of Parliament due to “episodic mobility problems.” Prince Charles went on to deliver the Queen’s Speech for the first time. The queen’s decision to delegate her role to Charles is likely to be seen by the public as evidence that a transition is underway, with the monarch remaining on the throne but turning over more responsibilities to her eldest son.
She has only missed the speech twice before. First was in 1959, during the late stages of her pregnancy with Prince Andrew and again in 1963 before Edward’s birth. On both occasions, Parliament was opened by a royal commission, with the speech delivered by the presiding member.
Horses have played a central role in Elizabeth’s life. She was given her first horse, a Shetland pony, when she was just 4 years old. She is known for her cheering at horse racing events, which she frequently attends. While an avid rider, she reportedly hasn’t ridden since early September due to mobility issues.
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Buckingham Palace didn’t elaborate on what it called “episodic mobility problems,″ but the queen has had difficulty moving around in recent months. She has been seen using a cane on some occasions and Andrew last month escorted her into Westminster Abbey for the memorial service for Philip.
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Elizabeth, who only recently recovered from a bout of COVID-19, is also preparing for four days of festivities celebrating her Platinum Jubilee that are scheduled for June 2-5.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.