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. Sir Michael Oswald 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.
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.
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.