The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh are looking forward to a special episode of Antiques Roadshow after experts assessed items from the royal collections at Hillsborough Castle.
Among the pieces the experts focused on was a small, bronze sculpture of a horse and jockey, believed to be of the 1863 Derby winner Macaroni.
The history of the work by French artist Pierre Jules Mene, and the race, stirred interest after the experts revealed the Epsom winner took home the spoils after 32 false starts.
“It seems very incompetent doesn’t it,” the Queen said. “But quite interesting.”
The royals discussed several items with specialists from the popular show at Hillsborough Castle – the royals’ home in Northern Ireland – before hundreds of people from across the province queue tomorrow (June 26) to have items valued for the filming of the latest episode of the BBC series.
The Co Down home has been part of the Historic Royal Palaces group since April and is now open to the public.
Prince Philip was keen to find out when their discussions with the experts would air, expected to be in the autumn, or late summer.
The Queen turned from signing the visitors’ book to add: “If it is in August then even better because we might have a chance to see it.”
In private discussions with the show’s experts, the Queen said she thought she aware of the owner of 1863 Derby winner, Liverpool banker Richard Naylor. The horse was bred by Richard Grosvenor, 2nd Marquess of Westminster.
The royals were also shown a George IV library table, one of a pair kept at Hillsborough; an 18th century Chinese soup tureen and five figurines from a Meissen monkey orchestra, both of which are held in the National Museum of Northern Ireland.
One of the more interesting pieces was a Wagga Wagga stick which was gifted to the Queen on her tour of Australia in 1954. There is no explanation of how the Aboriginal fighting club ended up in Hillsborough.
Antiques Roadshow’s Paul Atterbury, an expert in miscellaneous items, John Axford, an expert in ceramics and the Far East, and Hilary Kay, also an expert in miscellaneous items, introduced the items and spent about 10 minutes with the royals.
Ms Kay introduced a christening cup to the Queen that has a strong connection to the royal family.
“What was lovely about this is, this is a piece unlike the other objects as it has a direct family connection,” she said.
“She loved the silver and she was very interested in the stories behind the items – they were both interested in everything on the table.”
The cup was gifted to the daughter of the chief engineer on a transatlantic liner after she was born while Lord Granville, Governor of Northern Ireland, and his wife, were travelling on the ship to America.
On hearing the news Lady Granville, the Queen’s aunt, said she would send a gift for the new arrival, Rose.
The Queen heard how the young woman offered the silver back to the royal family and management of Hillsborough Castle, along with two family photographs, to add to their collections.
The Aboriginal fighting club stirred some interest from the Prince Philip who wanted to know how it was traced to the royals going back to one of their earliest foreign trips 60 years ago.
“Where’s the evidence?” he joked.
Mr Atterbury offered what little advice was available to the royals.
“The story between then and now is mysterious. I think that’s like a lot of things that arrive here in the palace without any clear knowledge of how or why. All the things here (on the table) are in the house for one reason or another without the back story.”
Ms Kay added: “The Queen was genuinely interested in finding out about the objects and she had a genuine interest in finding out how the Roadshow works.”