Queen enjoyed 'thrill' of nearly being thrown off horse in first ever polo game

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Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip in Malta (Image: Getty Images)
Princess Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip in Malta (Image: Getty Images)

A charming letter from an exhilarated Queen Elizabeth after she tried polo for the first time has come to light as part of a fascinating archive.

The then 24-year-old princess wrote to Horace Smith, the horse riding instructor who taught her and Princess Margaret as children, during her time living in Malta. She and Prince Philip lived on the Mediterranean island for two years while he served in the Royal Navy there.

Malta was the only country the Queen lived in other than the UK and her time there was said to be happy and carefree and with sort of freedom she would never have again. In her letter dated April 24, 1950, she describes how she had tried polo and enjoyed the thrill of nearly being thrown off her horse.

Queen enjoyed 'thrill' of nearly being thrown off horse in first ever polo game rriddqixxiqezinvThe letter was on Clarence House, St James's headed notepaper but she crossed this out and added the word 'Malta' underneath and underlined it (Griffin'sAuctions/BNPS)
Queen enjoyed 'thrill' of nearly being thrown off horse in first ever polo gameOne of the late Queen's letters to Horace Smith (Griffin'sAuctions/BNPS)

She wrote: "It is lovely out here, and I have become a great polo fan - I even took it up mildly myself when I was out here last year! It is extremely good for one's riding, I find as all the ponies here are so quick that that unexpected turn which they are inclined to do, has one off in a moment!"

The archive also includes 33 Christmas cards the Queen and Prince Philip sent Mr Smith and Sybil from between 1944 to 1992. The letters and cards have sold at auction for a total of £12,000.

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Queen enjoyed 'thrill' of nearly being thrown off horse in first ever polo gameOne of the late Queen's letters to Horace Smith in July 2021 (Getty Images)

Horace Smith died in 1957 and daughter Sybil Smith treasured the Royal letters all her life. She died in 1995 and they were then passed to a close friend of Sybil. Her niece has now sold them at Griffin's Auctions of Warwick.

Dan Warburton

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