Saturday, April 30, 2011

Something Royal

In honor of the royal nuptials, I think I’ll talk about the day I found out that Queen Elizabeth was a Breyer collector.

It seems pretty obvious now that she’s probably got a pretty nice little collection going, at least of the models based on horses in her service. There was the #79199 Household Cavalry Drum Horse from 1999, and the 2003 Limited Edition Set #3368, The Life Guards of the Queen’s Household Cavalry, with that spiffy dark bay Trakehner.

But back in 1993, it wasn’t quite as obvious. I suspected she probably had a few Breyers knocking around the Palace - there was a Special Run made of one of her favorite horses, Burmese, made as an Export Special ca. 1990-1991. If someone made a model of your favorite horse, it’d be common courtesy to send you one, especially if you were, y’know, the Queen.

BreyerFest back then was a much more laid back, casual affair. There was no Ninja Pit of Death, and no extra special runs outside of the raffle models (the grulla Hobo Nevada Star) and the first of the Volunteer Specials (the infamous Silver Filigree Proud Arabian Mare, for the live show organizers.) We had shopping at the Covered Arena, some demonstrations, the aforementioned live show (sans exclusive prize models), the BreyerFest SR handout, dinner and the raffle.

It seems pretty boring in retrospect, but it didn’t seem so at the time. We still had the hotel, brimming with horses, and the gossip and socializing was just as intense then as it is now - moreso maybe, since we had fewer distractions. It might have been the year of my first unfortunate underwear incident - pretty funny story in and of itself, but separate from the story at hand. (Mostly.)

Anyway, my roommate that year was someone I had met at a signing party even a couple years prior. We had hit it off pretty well, and had made plans to go down to BreyerFest together. Life - family issues, mostly, on her part - got in the way. (It was the very beginning of my historical roommate troubles, but that’s another story, too.)

She did manage to finally make it down to Kentucky, by late Friday afternoon. There weren’t any other things going on at the hotel, besides the gossip and the shopping, so it wasn’t like she was missing a whole lot.

And after she settled in, she asks me "Okay, where do I buy my tickets?"

Oh, dear. They didn’t have one day tickets back then, either. You bought your tickets ahead of time, and that was that. We had to improvise.

People did do pickups back then, though, so asking for spare dinner tickets wasn’t that big an issue. Nor was it all that big a deal to buy a Grayingham Lucky Lad secondhand. What was in question was whether or not she could attend the auction. We weren't entirely clear if she could - and since she wasn’t sure she’d be able to ever get back to BreyerFest, she wanted to buy at least one extra special memento of the event.

So I decided to go ask Peter Stone.

It was Saturday afternoon, a couple of hours before the auction. Peter was standing on the hillside to the front of the Covered Arena, not far from the concession stand. He was talking to a woman in a pretty floral print dress: I remember that, because it sort of stood out. I assumed that meant she must have been an owner, a park official, someone like that. Someone other than an average tourist or BreyerFest attendee.

I asked about the auction issue, Peter said he didn't see any problem with her attending, and oh by the way I’d like to introduce you one of the Queen’s Ladies-in-Waiting, who is here to pick up a Lucky Lad for Her Majesty.

I can’t remember my exact reaction, though I’m pretty sure my internal monologue included some socially inappropriate words. ("Holy ****, what do I do now? Bow? Curtsy? ****!")

I did manage to get away without completely embarrassing myself. I think.

According to my research, one of the Queen’s Ladies-in-Waiting is also Prince William’s godmother, but I kinda doubt that’s the one I met. I have some pretty powerful six-degrees-of-separation mojo working for me, but not that powerful. The story is crazy enough as it is, even without that extra frosting.


Anonymous said...

Neat story!!!

Heather said...

Wonderful story and very apropos!