Monty Roberts shares thoughts about attendance at historic funeral of Queen Elizabeth II
Now that Monty Roberts and his wife Pat are back home at Flag Is Up Farms in Solvang after attending the historic funeral of Queen Elizabeth II Monday in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, Mr. Roberts reflected on the experience.
“It was one of the most important days of my life — certainly not joyous — but I must have done something right for the royal family to reach out and place me in this position,” he told the News-Press. “I think Pat and I were the only U.S. citizens to be invited for the commitment service at the chapel.”
In fact, DW News, a German TV broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, noted his unusual presence in a story that appeared before the event.
Headed “Queen Elizabeth II funeral: Who is and isn’t invited,’ the list included “Who’s In,” “Who’s Out,” “Rain Checks” and “Some Surprises,” which included Monty Roberts and the text: “The queen’s fondness for nature was perhaps most evident in her deep connection to horses. Over the years, she forged a somewhat unlikely friendship with professional ‘horse whisperer’ Roberts, with whom she shared a love of all things equine. The 87-year-old California cowboy will attend the service for his ‘friend,’ sitting among kings, queens and world leaders for what he referred to as a ‘last meeting with the queen.’ ”
Along with the story is a photo of the queen, Mr. Roberts and Queen Consort Camilla petting a horse’s nose.
“I was told that when the list of funeral attendees was discussed, the head of the equine division put my name first on the list,” said Mr. Roberts, who last saw the queen in person in November 2019 at Windsor Castle.
“We talked about getting the horses ready to race and about the Corgis. We talked like the best of friends.”
After a phone call inviting them to the funeral, the Roberts flew to England the Saturday before and stayed with friends who lived 10 miles from the castle.
“The security was so intense, and we wanted to be able to come and go. We also had to pick up our tickets from Terry Pendry, head of horse operations at Windsor Castle. I put Terry in that job in 1989 when I first began working with the queen’s horses,” Mr. Roberts said.
On Monday, they gathered with hundreds of other guests at 1:30 p.m. for shuttle rides to the chapel for the 4 p.m. service.
“We were escorted to our seats, which were in the front row on the center aisle,” said Mr. Roberts. “I wasn’t terribly interested in the service. I was there to see the queen’s final trip down the aisle for the commitment ceremony.
“My primary thought was, ‘Monty, you can’t cry. You can be as sad as you can be, but don’t cry.’ I considered it a sign of weakness, and I didn’t want her to see me crying. It was a silly thing, but in my heart, I didn’t want to be weak and cry,” he said.
“When the coffin went by, we were standing, and I was strong, and my eyes were open. Then the water just started streaming out of my eyes. I didn’t sob or gasp. I just had water running down the front of my suit. I had to sit down and try to dry myself off.”
Later, Mr. Roberts said he met a doctor who was familiar with the reaction.
“He told me it came from a deep sadness within, and there was no way to keep from crying. The water builds up and spills out.”
For the ceremony, Mr. Roberts wore a black suit, which was highly unusual for him. He is easily recognizable in a bright blue shirt with a red scarf and silver pin at the neck, brown Wrangler jeans with a World Championship silver buckle on the belt, cowboy boots and a felt cowboy hat.
“It’s my western uniform — uniform, not outfit — and there’s a queen story behind that. During one of my visits at Windsor in 1996, I was working with the horses, and Her Majesty kept popping in and out.
“Every time she did, I took off my cowboy hat because I was told that was royal etiquette unless you were in uniform. With that, the queen tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I dub this outfit your uniform.’ Ever since, this has always been my western uniform.”