Sir Michael Oswald died on Saturday at age 86 following a “long illness,” according to his obituary in The Times. Oswald, who was born in Surrey, England in 1934, was recruited as manager of the Royal Studs in 1969, overseeing the breeding and care of the royal family’s race horses. He held the role for 28 years and was later promoted to director before retiring in 1999. However, he continued to serve as racing manager to the Queen Mother and, following her death in 2002, jump advisor to Queen Elizabeth, becoming a close friend of the monarch. Horseback riding has been one of the Queen’s passions ever since she learned to ride at age three. Oswald previously said of the royal’s equestrian passion, “Having been paid to do what I would have done for fun had I been a rich man, I must be the luckiest of all chaps because there was never a better and more knowledgeable owner to answer to.” In 2020, he was appointed Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order for his professional contributions.
Oswald is survived by his wife, Lady Angela Cecil, and their two adult children, Katharine and William. His widow—who served as a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Mother for many years—relayed a fond memory of her late husband to Racing Post, saying, “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.”
Nicky Henderson, a trainer of royal jumpers for over two decades, also told the outlet, “He was very close to the Queen and the Queen Mother and loved his role with their horses. He would go absolutely anywhere to watch them run, even in the last few years when he was in his eighties. He lived in Norfolk, but would happily drive all the way to Exeter. The Queen once said to me that we had to stop Michael traveling all over the country. I did very respectfully point out she was the only one who could do that.”
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