King Charles is selling off fourteen of his late mother’s prized racehorses

Queen Elizabeth II was a horse girl. Her mother was a horse girl too. Both mother and daughter were obsessed with everything about horses and horse racing and horse breeding. QEII spent decades building her stable of champion racehorses. Her horses were one of her biggest passions and greatest loves. Her children and many of her grandchildren are keen on horses too, from polo ponies to show-jumping horses to race horses. Charles played polo for years, as did his sons. Anne is an accomplished equestrian, as is her daughter Zara. So it definitely seems weird that in recent weeks, there’s been so much conversation about “what will Charles do with his mother’s horses?” The horse operation belongs to him entirely, but he could easily pass everything off to his wife, or to Anne, or William or even the Wessexes. Instead, Charles has decided to sell off some his mother’s collection: he’s selling fourteen broodmares.

BBC News reports that the King is selling 14 of the late monarch’s ‘brood mares’ through Tattersalls auction house in Newmarket, including celebrated runners Just Fine (trained by Sir Michael Stoute, the man behind over 100 royal winners) and Love Affairs. As well as being a keen rider and an eager racegoer – often spotted cheering on her runners from Ascot’s Royal Enclosure – the Queen took an active interest in breeding racehorses at Sandringham’s Royal Stud, which she inherited from her own father, King George VI.

Tattersall spokesman Jimmy George stressed that the Royal Family would be continuing their close ties to the sport, stating: ‘It’s nothing out of the ordinary. Every year they would sell horses. The Queen had brood mares of her own, she would breed them and sell them. You can’t keep them all… Every year owners sell stock. His Majesty is just doing what owners do.’

The monarch’s former racing manager John Warren once described horses as a ‘tremendous getaway’ for the monarch, reflecting: ‘I’m sure if the Queen had not been bred into being a monarch she would have found a vocation with horses. It was just simply in her DNA.’ He credited her role in championing the sport with helping to raise the profile of British racing.

[From Tatler]

They’re trying to put a bow on it, but the most likely scenario here is that King Charles isn’t going to “pass off” any part of the operation to a family member, and he’ll simply sell off his late mother’s horses in smaller groups. And for what purpose? Even if horses aren’t your bag, if your mother spent decades breeding horses and it was one of her great passions and investments, wouldn’t you try to maintain her stable? Especially since Charles has the money and personnel to do just that – it’s not like he’s the one feeding them and mucking about in the stables, for goodness sake. This is pointed – he’s actively destroying the one thing his mother truly loved.

I tweeted about this yesterday, but for all of the talk of how the Sussexes “upset” QEII for this or that and how Liz would be “turning in her grave” over something to do with Harry and Meghan, THIS is actually what would bother her: her son selling off all of her precious horses. And Charles is doing it specifically because his mother loved her horses so much.

Photos courtesy of Instar, Avalon Red, Cover Images and Andrew Milligan / Avalon.

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80 Responses to “King Charles is selling off fourteen of his late mother’s prized racehorses”

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  1. Southern Fried says:

    She loved them more than her own children it seems.

  2. Ginny says:

    Would the Queen have left instructions in her will regarding what to do with the horses? I find it hard to believe they would’ve been unaccounted for and completely left to Charles’s whims…

    • Green girl says:

      Agreed. I find it hard to believe she didn’t have some sort of instructions in her will. Like I am a nobody and I have family and friends who have provisions in their wills for their pets.

      If he’s not into maintaining all of the horses, which I doubt because I’d think Camilla could take this over and have a good success of it, then I get wanting to sell. But this feels so pointed like he is finally doing what he wants after many many years.

    • Tacky says:

      This kind of horse operation is incredibly expensive and demands an incredible amount of attention. If Charles lacks the expertise to run it, he’s doing right by his mother’s legacy by putting her lines in the hands of experts. The parentage of champions is traced back to the original stud so her role will never be forgotten.

    • Karennotkaren says:

      These are brood mares, meant to produce foals, not racehorses. They are part of a (likely civilized) breeding program which requires great expertise, time and attention. And, yes, horses are expensive AND they do know and need their people. (My daughters are equestrians and I worked through their childhood to support…horses. They are the greatest teachers, often a better parent than I probably was, and taught my kiddos hard work and responsibility). I understand why he’s doing this. It may very well provide them with a better home (expert care) as I doubt he wants to manage a foaling operation (staff, medical staff and care, board, sales) in perpetuity.

    • MissMarirose says:

      I agree. The horses are a huge financial asset in addition to being living beings. Surely she accounted for them in her will. And though I understand the argument that Charles shouldn’t get rid of something his mother loved so much, the horses are living beings and they should be with people who will love them as much as she did. If Charles isn’t that guy, then perhaps he should sell them to someone who will lovingly care for them.

    • Steph says:

      Do the rules of a will apply to the royal family? If Charles is going against the will wouldn’t it need to be made public to contest it?

  3. EBS says:

    The racing industry is really worried about this. The Queen would sell horses this time of year, but she’d normally sell about 7 or so. Charles is selling twice the normal number. He seems to be exiting the business which would be a disaster for things like Royal Ascot.

    • Becks1 says:

      I was wondering about that, bc the article said that it was a normal thing to sell the horses, even for the Queen, but 14 seemed like a lot to me (although I’m not an expert lol.) So it does sound like this is out of the ordinary then.

    • equality says:

      Why a disaster? Might give other people, who don’t get gifted horses and spend their own money maintaining them, a more fair chance to win.

    • The Hench says:

      Genuine question – why would Charles selling his mother’s racehorses be a disaster for Royal Ascot? The meet doesn’t need runners owned by the Queen to happen and I’m assuming that the RF would still attend the meeting, as they do now.

      Is it that racing overall would suffer from losing the active involvement of the Monarch from a prestige point of view?

      • EBS says:

        Yes, it’s a prestige thing. Pre-pandemic, the Queen went to all five days of Royal Ascot and took a keen interest in all race meetings. Charles and Camilla and William and Kate go to Day 1, if that. By day 5, if the lead carriage is Zara and Mike, the prestige levels aren’t there. And in terms of horses more generally, having one of the Queen’s horses run at a meeting guarantees a certain level of interest and prestige. If Charles doesn’t keep them, racing goes more downmarket.

      • The Hench says:

        Thanks EBS, appreciate your answer. That makes sense x

      • AnnaKist says:

        I wondered the same thing. Perhaps they see it as a dishonour to the queen that he is selling them so soon after her death? But if they were going to be sold at some point anyway, and no longer are of such deep interest to him, it’s probably an expense he can do without. Even pet horses are expensive to keep. I have friends who had a large stud, and even though they don’t have it any longer, they are still mad keen on racing and racehorses. Once, when the wife was in hospital, I gave her husband a hand in the office for a week. It was mind-boggling how much people were paying for adjistment, feeding and training of their horses, as well as all the fees they paid for his prize stallions covering their mares, artificial insemination, vet bills etc.

        Charles is almost 74, and has had some serious injuries from falls while playing polo, so perhaps he’s just thinking pragmatically, and might simply be reducing the size of his stables. I can understand that.

        I think Royal Ascot is so entrenched that it won’t make much difference whether the queen’s horses are there or not. It’s the same with our Melbourne Cup; I can’t remember the last time the British monarch had a horse in the race. There is no shortage of international horses that take part, especially from Ireland, New Zealand and the Emirates.

      • equality says:

        Likely the big deal of dressing up for Ascot will continue on, like the Kentucky Derby, without royalty. KC may be doing the monarchy more of a death blow than the racing. It will be another instance where people realize the monarchy isn’t really needed.

    • Tessa says:

      It can benefit the buyers of the horses if the mares produce champions

  4. Nanea says:

    It’s not only the fact that Chuck for Cash is selling the horses, his mother’s one genuine passion project, one she was quite successful in.

    I’d get it if he were hurting for money, as running stables is very expensive, but what I don’t get is the speed, urgency.

    We heard about him shrinking the breeding program mere days after his mother died. As if he had drawn up plans to do this long ago.

    But yeah, the king is grieving…

    • booboocita says:

      “As if he had drawn up plans to do this long ago.”

      Precisely. He strikes me as the sort of person who stores up grievances, making lists of perceived slights and insults, then strikes at the earliest opportunity to redress/avenge them. What a LITTLE man he is.

      • Lucy says:

        That is what this seems like. It reminds me of my father in law, who has detailed instructions about who is not allowed at his funeral. He adds to the list all the time, seems to be just ruminating on who he’s going to add to the burn book from their small community. It’s bizarre.
        It’s also bizarre that this is king shit. I’ve been saying this since before the funeral, Charles has been waiting his whole life to be king, and this is his king shit? Briefing against a son, a tv show and selling off his mothers prized possessions?

  5. Serenity says:

    He actually sickens me.

    I’m so sorry for your people C3. Every day you pull yet another vicious stunt; whether it’s against your son, or H&M, or even Cowmilla (I believe you’ve briefed against her too) you just.don’t.stop. If this is a glimpse of royal life, THANK GOD I’m a peon from across the world.

  6. equality says:

    Maybe this is part of downsizing the monarchy. A lot of money is spent on keeping horses. Maybe he has a plan for the property they are on and/or the money from selling that will benefit the country, be more sustainable than horse-keeping, or go to charity? Unless one of the other royals has a specific tie or fondness for one of the horses, which is doubtful, why gift them one. My question would be what about any horses that were gifted to her? Would they be considered as owned by the country and the money would be public? I find it amusing that “if the Queen had not been bred into being a monarch” she would have kept horses. I guess, she might have if she had been born rich enough to keep her own horses without gifting and being on public funds. And “bred” into a monarch?

    • Paulkid says:

      Chawlz could have the simplest plan for benefiting the country, it’s called paying an inheritance tax, like his subjects are expected to do. Of his mother’s horses, why wouldn’t he gift one to Anne? Right, because he is greedy, petty and self absorbed. That’s my take.

      • Misa says:

        Exactly this! Or he could downsize on the homes he owns, but of course not. Instead his focussing on is somebody else’s passion. My gosh, these people Are awful

      • equality says:

        Paying his fair share of taxes would be a grand gesture. You are assuming that Anne is interested in race horse stock or that he didn’t gift her one or why wouldn’t TQ have left or gifted her one if she were interested? That would make more sense.

    • Ceej says:

      Yes! “Bred” into being a monarch was weirdly dehumanising, and not something they’d say about a man especially in the context of broodmares… interesting that even the longest reigning British queen can get the misogynist treatment.

    • Snoozer says:

      This is it.

      I don’t like Charles. But he is better at business than most of his family.

      The horse operation runs at a loss. He has a real thing about making everything profitable. He is keenly aware that scrutiny over royal expenses is only going to increase and that he doesn’t have his mother’s popularity to carry him through it.

      I think this is business. It’s not a calculated insult (although he is certainly petty enough for that).

      He is also talking about opening up Buckingham Palace and various other spaces and making them year-round profitable public spaces.

      I think he wants to divest himself of anything that can’t be made to make money, and concentrate on projects that are based around the environment, architecture, preservation, and public access.

      The horses cost a bomb. They have always run at a loss.

      • Tigerlily says:

        @Snoozer I agree, it’s business. Horses at the level queen e did is expensive and a rich man’s thing. My husband is a farmer and when he sees people with horses as a hobby he says they may as well be shoveling dollar bills on a bonfire.

      • Digital Unicorn says:

        Makes sense and as others say breeding horses was his mother’s passion.

        Also, it’s been said for years that he’s wanted/planned to turn BP into a large museum/tourist attraction stuffed of as much of the Royal Collection they could fit in. Summer opening and The Queen’s Gallery has proven how successful that would be.

      • Underhill says:

        This take makes the most sense to me. Horses are famously expensive, and C3 has always had a big interest in making the properties pay their way. Makes sense.

      • Lady D says:

        He really doesn’t want to live at Buckingham, does he?

      • EBS says:

        I honestly wouldn’t want to live at BP either. It’s huge, dated, run-down and draughty. Clarence House is gorgeous and a brilliant size for two people (wildly luxurious for London but not enormous by country standards).

    • Concern Fae says:

      I think these are all things he’s wanted to see happen for years. He doesn’t realize that waiting a year to start the downsizing would greatly improve how it was received by the public.

      I remember reading some article talking about money and the royal family, where a friend pointed out that when the Saudis gave Prince Charles a racehorse, all he saw was a pile of bills he’d have to pay for the rest of the horse’s life.

      • Justwastingtime says:

        Horses are absurdly younger one is a passionate and talented rider and I steered her away from riding as soon as possible. It just doesn’t make sense to try to compete in a sport where the rider whose parents can afford the most expensive horse wins.

  7. Miss Owlsyn says:

    I know that racing horses are working animals, not pets, but shouldn’t these animals be owned by someone who truly cares for them? If C-III just isn’t so in to horses, why not sell them to someone who absolutely is?

    Again, I’m really trying to not equate them to pets, but, why keep animals out of ‘obligation’ instead of affection?

  8. Tessa says:

    Maybe one of the broodmares could be sold to an established owner in the US and it would serve Charles right if the broodmares produced a triple crown winner and hall of fame. Horse it would serve Charles right. The queen was friendly with us breeders and sent her mares to be bred to us stallions. I recall She was a fan of triple crown winner Seattle slew.

  9. Brassy Rebel says:

    The only surprising thing is he’s not monetizing the Corgis too.

    His royal cypher should be 🤑

  10. bisynaptic says:

    Their obsession with genes, breeding, and inheritance, my god.

  11. Formerly Lithe says:

    “THIS is actually what would bother her: her son selling off all of her precious horses. And Charles is doing it specifically because his mother loved her horses so much.”

    This whole story makes me sad. And it has become clear that Harry needed to take his family and leave not just before William became king, but also Charles.

    • Lorelei says:

      @FormerlyLithe, your second paragraph makes such a good point (and the entire story makes me sad, too — Charles is just SO petty)

  12. Tessa says:

    Her majesty loved horses and I remember the photographs of her looking so happy on the Reagan ranch going riding. I guess Charles cannot sell those carriage horses his father owned with penny to meet in charge of them.

  13. Tessa says:

    Penny r in charge of them.

  14. Amy Bee says:

    Apparently the Queen’s horse operation took more money than it made. So I can see Charles would want to get rid of it.

    • ariel says:

      I was thinking the same thing. The upkeep is an ENORMOUS expense. It was her passion. But it is not his passion, and he can cut it.
      I don’t see anything wrong with that.

      It is not like they are destroying her legacy- aside from horses- she had this other job- being queen. That is the only institution they have to honor.

  15. Tessa says:

    The queen attended the Kentucky derby in 2007. I checked google and she watched street sense win. The jockey calvin bore l was invited to a state dinner and met her majesty

  16. Pumpkin (Was Sofia) says:

    I… get why. It’s spending money on something Charles has no interest in (or at least to the level of the queen) and if there’s one thing I’ve learnt about him in the last few years, is that he likes to not spend money – no matter how much rich he is. So even if the whole thing is basically pennies for him, I can see him thinking “why spend a few million a year on this when those same few million can sit in a bank and collect interest”. Or an off shore account..

  17. TheVolvesSeidr says:

    My first thought when I read this is how much he will get for each horse. People will pay A LOT for one of QE2’s horses. He’s a greedy f@ck, maybe he is doing it for the money. It will be straight up profit for him while decreasing his bottom line. Horses are pricey. I only have one and could be driving a BMW or Mercedes if I didn’t have him.

  18. Eurydice says:

    I hate to say it, but I’m with Charles here. I see this a lot – Dad dies and leaves his treasured collection of medieval crossbows, what to do with Mom’s lifetime collection of Hummel figurines. If you don’t want your 20,000-volume library of science fiction books to end up at some pulp factory in Canada, then you better figure it out before you die. Probably, TQ left instructions, but I don’t think it’s disrespect to this mother that Charles wants to clear the decks a little.

    • Moxylady says:

      Wish he would sell them and donate the proceeds to a charity for the elderly or families in honor of his mother. Hell for mothers, since these horses birthed champions. But he won’t. Why do people with no empathy or compassion have all the money

  19. Elsa says:

    It is not uncommon to sell broodmares or young stock each year. Horse girl here. However I don’t have a clue what he is doing and whether he is going with normal practices or downsizing to a large extent.

  20. Flo says:

    Can’t have the stable competing with the Consort.

  21. notasugarhere says:

    Guess all of Sophie’s ass-kissing wasn’t enough to get QEII to change her will and leave the race horses to Family Wessex.

    • Julia K says:

      Horse racing is a rich people sport. No one gets rich horse raising. Only Charles , of everyone in the RF, has the money to afford this. Selling is really the best option here.

      • Christine says:

        I agree, Julia.

      • notasugarhere says:

        Sophie was already using money (what money, she left her business 1.5 million in the hole) and owned a share in at least one race horse. She would have loved to get her mitts on these animals, sell a few a year at outrageous prices, and keep the stable running off the profits. Interesting QEII didn’t leave them to her.

    • Concern Fae says:

      That’s one of the ways primogeniture sucks. It would make total sense for Edward to have taken over the racing operations, if that was his interest. Or some other corner of TQ’s vast enterprise. Instead, C3 gets it all and the younger sibs are left scrambling.

      Of course, this is why the British still have a super wealthy landed aristocracy, unlike the rest of Europe.

  22. Rocķy says:

    As the owner of a house full of furniture chosen by my ancestors I am with Chuck. Sell it. Let someone else enjoy it who loves it.

  23. AmelieOriginal says:

    I don’t find this weird at all. When a parent dies, you have to go through their possessions and figure out what to do with them. You might keep some stuff but you are most likely going to sell/donate a lot of it. My mom was the executor of her parents’ estate and they were not wealthy at all but it was a LOT of work going through their house, figuring out what to keep, organizing yard sales to get rid of stuff in their house, figuring out where to donate stuff, selling their house, selling their car, etc.

    The Queen loved horseracing but it’s clearly not Charles’s thing. I’m not even sure he loves horses but I know he knows how to ride and played polo when he was younger. Why would he keep that business going if he has no interest in it? Continuing something in the memory of his mother is a nice thought but it isn’t practical and most people don’t do this. Sure she was Queen for 70 years but that doesn’t mean Charles has to keep her horses or keep up his mother’s horseracing operation. Would QEII be upset about it? Maybe but she’s dead so who really cares. If she had any foresight, she would left instructions in her will relating to her horses. And if she didn’t, that’s on her and Charles is free to do what he likes with Elizabeth’s horses.

  24. Renae says:

    Mummy loved her horses more than Chuck(up). The queen made sure to watch some race one of her horses was in BEFORE going into C&Cs wedding dinner (or whatever they called it) and was late! I think king 3 sticks has always been jealous of the queens love for the animals and is now showing it. That it saves him money is also huge plus for mr. Pinch-penny.

  25. Over it says:

    Well at least he isn’t putting Camila up for sale. Lol

  26. Chantal says:

    Is he putting Andrew up for sale as well? He’d probably have to pay someone to take him though…

  27. Athena says:

    I can’t remember if I read this in a newspaper article or in a comment section, but I read that Zara wanted the job of managing the Queen’s horse business and got passed up for it. If she qualifies, this would have been a good way to provide her with a steady income in a legitimate business. There are real jobs, such as managing estates, curating the vast art work that royal adjacent members can do to earn a living .

    Had the queen left a horse or two in her Will to Anne, Anne would have had to pay inheritance tax on the value of the horses.

    Based on UK rules, no tax is due on any gifts you give if you live for 7 years after giving them, unless the gift is part of a trust. If you die within 7 years inheritance tax kicks in. My point is, that old lady should have divvyed out stuff from the age of 80. There are ways around the monarch inherits everything nonsense. One way to protect the monarchy is to make sure the ones associated with it are adequately provided for and not susceptible to grifting.

    • Mary says:

      @Athena, Zara did want that job and I think she was expecting it. There was a live interview with her and she was point blank asked if she would end up managing the Queen’s stables and she said something and smiled in a way that you knew she anticipated it.

      As for the 7-year limitation on gifting, it was reported that the Queen Mother left gifts for family members before she died but likely not within seven years. But they (tax authorities?) decided to not press the issue, so no inheritance tax was paid. I’m sure the same thing would have happened for any gifts that the Queen bestowed within that 7-year limitation. The donnees would likely not have been forced to pay taxes. I’m sure they get away with sh** like that all the time.

  28. Delphine says:

    Horses are incredibly emotionally intelligent. They must be missing the Queen and know something is up. I just hope whoever buys them shows them a lot of love.

  29. Catherine says:

    Charles is a businessman plain and simple. I suspect that the Queen Horse racing business was costing more money than it was making. You never hear about her horses winning very much nor do you hear that they are successful breeding/training competitive horses for others. The Queen probably loved horses so much that she didn’t care that it was particularly profitable or successful. I imagine Charles does. The cost is his now. It is cold and calculating but I really don’t expect sentimentality from Charles. Zara has definitely hinted that she wanted to run the horse racing business but since she likely doesn’t have the private funds to pay for it. Charles would have to foot the bill. I understand why people in the horse racing industry in the UK are concerned. Horse racing has lost a ton of popularity. The Queen’s obvious love for it; gave it some continued allure. If over the next few years if it is perceived that Charles is abandoning the sport it could affect attendance at this like Ascot because of the lack of the royal seal of approval.

  30. Jay says:

    Maybe this too cynical a take, but I could see Charles trying to balance the royal books with a cash infusion. It doesn’t look great if he’s letting go of staff and preaching belt-tightening while spending millions on a fancy horse operation.

    And wouldn’t this be the most opportune time to sell, while emotions and affection for her are still running high?

    • Mary says:

      “And wouldn’t this be the most opportune time to sell, while emotions and affection for her are still running high?”. I think the opposite. While the queen was well loved by many, Charles, not so much. His selling her horses so quickly looks greedy and vindictive. As someone upthread mentioned, it would have looked better if he had waited, say, a year before offloading his mother’s prized possessions.

  31. Nadine says:

    Did QE2 leave nothing to the other children because of the inheritance taxes? We have not heard even one line about Zara or Anne receiving one horse from the Queen? Or even that the horses were part of a royal equestrian trust that Anne, Zara and maybe Louise were a part of together.

    This is why I call BS on Phillip and Elizabeth’s will being kept secret for a 99 years. These people lived off the state for their entire lives. The taxpayers have a right to know where their money ended up

  32. jferber says:

    No doubt the money this raises will be poured into Charles’ favorite charity– himself.

  33. Abbicci says:

    These were not the Queen’s pets. She was not riding them in Great Windsor Park. They were a business that consistently lost her money. No member of the royal family could manage it to profitability in it’s current size. Many of the horses were purchased but she received many as gifts from world leaders, friends and others seeking to curry the queen’s favor. She sold horses every year, based on the advice of managers. They were livestock to her, not a bit of sentimentality. As much of a pos KCIII is, selling horses that were breeding stock is in the basement on the list of his transgressions.

  34. Prairiegirl says:

    Selling off the horses and shutting down the operation is a fine idea. If the new king doesn’t want to breed horses, why should he? To keep them around for the next king who doesn’t seem interested in horse breeding either? In a winner-take-all hereditary system disposing of this private asset is his prerogative especially when it’s an expensive hobby. If Charles wants to downsize and/or ‘modernize’ the monarchy, including how it appears to outsiders, start with the ‘sport of kings.’ The Royal Train should be next on the chopping block. A 70-year reign sure does fossilize a lot of activities and possessions that should have been put to pasture (ha!) a long time ago.

  35. JRenee says:

    Multiple things can be true at once.
    This could be a good business move.
    This could be because he’s not interested in maintaining the horses.
    This could be because he’s petty.
    Probably a bit of all of the above.
    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he has accumulated a petty list of actions over the years to punish anyone he believes upstaged, angered or crossed him…

  36. Tessa says:

    George the sixth owned and bred a horse called knights daughter who produced american champion round table. Her majesty rearranged a schedule to visit round table at Claiborne farm in Kentucky