Queen's ride without hat raises safety issue

Queen riding in Windsor Great Park with her two youngest grandchildren The Queen is known for her headscarf-wearing

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A safety group has said all horse riders should wear hats, after the release of a picture of the Queen riding while wearing only a headscarf.

The monarch, 85, who has long shunned wearing a safety hat, had released an image of her out riding with her two youngest grandchildren.

Rospa said it urged all riders to wear hats "whether or not they are in the public eye", but said it was a choice.

Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the Queen's individual choices.

When contacted by the BBC, Rospa - the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents - said the advice on wearing riding helmets applied to adults and children alike.

"Obviously there isn't a law that makes it necessary, but we encourage all riders to do so because it reduces the severity of head injuries if their horse was to have a fall," said a spokesperson.

'Old school'

The Queen was pictured on her black pony alongside three-year-old Viscount Severn and seven-year-old Lady Louise Windsor - the children of the Earl and Countess of Wessex - on their smaller ponies.

The children were wearing riding hats in the picture, released to mark the start of the Royal Windsor Horse Show.

But director of the British Equestrian Health and Safety Association, Jane Butt, said she did not believe the Queen was setting a bad example by refusing to wear a helmet.

"It's a well known fact that the Queen doesn't wear a hat, she's from the old school."

"She is in her 80s and she is still riding so I think she is a good advert for how riding keeps people fit.".

She said her view would differ if the Queen's grandchildren had not been wearing riding hats, adding: "I would have very strong opinions on that."

Likewise, she said if the Queen's daughter Princess Anne or granddaughter Zara Phillips - both successful competitive riders - went without safety helmets it could be viewed negatively.

"That would be bad. They are competitive riders and have very high profiles as riders. The Queen is a very good horsewoman but I don't think the equestrian world would look to her as an example in the same way."

She said she believed the public viewed the Queen as someone who was successful as breeding racehorses and riding for own pleasure, but not as a "representative" of equestrianism.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    I really couldn't care less what the queen puts on her head, its up to the individual if they wish to wear safety gear. Also, people seem to think that we should consider whether our actions will result in costs to the tax payer, jeez, I pay tax, i'm entitled to have an accident, and a life free of bubble wrap. Life is for living not avoiding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    As both a rider and a cyclist I appreciate the benefits of 'lids'. I also appreciate the culture of the older riders who don't wear them. Her Majesty is perfectly entitled to wear whatever she pleases on her head whilst on her beautifully schooled horses on her own land. Lesser mortals on the public roads have to make different choices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Had a cycling accident last week, not a big one but banged my head hard, if I hadn't been wearing a helmet I'd have certainly been seriously injured, maybe dead rather than just concussion, the helmet saved the emergency services a fair bit of money if nothing else.
    An opportunity for people to point out the advantages of wearing a lid otherwise a non story, just follow the kids example not hers

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    As described in an article, it's "old school.' I don't think it matters very much since she always have a guard following her.

    It's amazing to know that this woman still rides at the age of 85.

    Good for you, Ma'am. God bless you!

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    I think all horse riders should wear helmets, especially if you are in the public eye, as it sets an example to young ones..I would have thought that insurance companies would insist on helmets when out horse riding. We have to wear safety gear for other sports. Does not insurance companies stipulate in their policies that helmets should be worn.


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