The Queen has suffered another loss after the death of her former manager of the Royal Studs, Sir Michael Oswald, who has died at the age of 86.
Sir Michael advised Her Majesty, 94, as well as the Queen Mother, and presided over their racing interests for almost 30 years.
He died after a long illness on April 17, the same day as the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral in Windsor, according to The Times.
Over the years, Sir Michael was often pictured by the Queen’s side at various races and when the Duchess of Cambridge made her long-awaited debut at Royal Ascot in 2016, she was also photographed enjoying a chat with the expert.
The Queen has suffered another loss after the death of her former manager of the Royal Studs, Sir Michael Oswald, who has died at the age of 86. Pictured, Sir Michael Oswald, the Queen and Prince Philip at the Derby Festival on June 1, 2013 in Epsom
Speaking to the Racing Post, Sir Michael’s widow, Lady Angela – for many years a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother – paid tribute to her husband.
She said: ‘He always said he had the most wonderful job anybody could ever have had and that for all his working life he was simply doing what he would have done had he been a rich man who didn’t have to work.’
Before taking up the post as the Queen’s racing advisor in 2003, Sir Michael worked for the Queen Mother from 1970 until her death in 2002.
In the 2020 New Year Honours list, he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO).
Showing the Queen’s great sense of humour and their close friendship, Sir Michael would often tell the story of a horse his employer had in training called Harvest Song.
The Queen Mother (pictured left), Prince Charles (right) and the Queen at Epsom in 1993, alongside Sir Michael, pictured second right
He made his usual call to her page, Barry Mitford, at Buckingham Palace at 10am one day to say it was running in the 2.30 at Fontwell and that it was on television, in case they wanted to watch it or record it for her.
‘Barry got rather excited at this, asking will it win and should he have a flutter,’ he says. ‘I told him under no circumstances should he waste any money on it: that I had more chance of winning the 100m at the Olympics.’
Harvest Song started as a 50-1 rank outsider and won the race by five and a half lengths.
When Sir Michael later rang the Queen to ask if she’d watched the race, she replied: ‘Oh yes, and may I say that Barry is standing next to me. If I was you, I would find some dark glasses and a good disguise next time to come anywhere near this place.
In 1969 Sir Michael, who was born in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, in 1934, and went to Eton then King’s College, Cambridge, was recruited as manager of the Royal Studs, which for six years he ran from Hampton Court.
Over the years, Sir Michael was often pictured by the Queen’s side at various races and when the Duchess of Cambridge made her long-awaited debut at Royal Ascot in 2016, she was also photographed enjoying a chat with the expert (pictured)
Later, he moved to the Sandringham estate in Norfolk and in the 1970s enjoyed a golden age for the Queen’s racing, with top performers such as Highclere, winner of the One Thousand Guineas and the French Oaks.
Equestrian sports are one of the royal family’s passions, with the Queen having learned to ride a horse at the age of three.
Commenting on the Queen’s interest, Sir Michael previously said: ‘There was never a better and more knowledgeable owner to answer to.’
Nicky Henderson, a trainer of royal jump horses, told the Racing Post how Sir Michael loved his role with the Queen and Queen Mother’s horses and was very close to both royals.
He explained how the retired Sir Michael would go ‘absolutely anywhere’ to watch Her Majesty’s horses run, even when in his eighties.
The Queen alongside Sir Michael Oswald at Epsom racecourse in June 1983, pictured left, and the Queen and Sir Michael Oswald attending the QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse on October 18, 2014, pictured right
‘The Queen once said to me that we had to stop Michael travelling all over the country. I did very respectfully point out she was the only one who could do that.’ said Mr Henderson.
The trainer also revealed how they once won a race for the Queen at Sandown that was sponsored by Paddy Power, and had made three bronze sets of pants as trophies.
‘They were laid out on the table ready for the presentations, when they suddenly realised that giving the Queen a pair of bronze pants might be deemed inappropriate, so they removed that particular trophy and replaced it with a vase.
‘Sir Michael made very clear he wanted the pants not the vase and announced he would be driving them straight to Windsor Castle. The following morning I spoke with the Queen, who said the Duke of Edinburgh had been highly entertained by the prize,’ recalled Mr Henderson.
Sir Michael’s death is the second tragedy to hit the Queen after her beloved husband of 73 years Prince Philip passed away on April 9, aged 99.
He was laid to rest on Saturday in a stripped-back funeral in Windsor with just 30 mourners invited due to Covid-19 regulations.
Following strict social distancing rules during the pandemic, the Queen set an example even in grief, sitting apart from family members arranged around St George’s Chapel.