Queen Elizabeth II, 1926-2022: The Queen at Ellerslie Races, Boxing Day 1953

On her first visit to New Zealand in 1953, newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II, with her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, attended a Boxing Day meeting at Ellerslie racecourse. Racegoers preferred to watch the royal couple rather than the horses during the Auckland Racing Club’s meeting.

‘A Noble Breed’ [1] describes the day:

“A large but by no means a record crowd gave the royal party an enthusiastic welcome as they were escorted by Dr and Mrs Grant to the Royal Box in the main public grandstand. Thousands of those present saw little of the racing. They had come to see the queen and, to embarrassment of more sensitive racegoers, many stared at her fixedly as she chatted, studied her racebook and watched the horses. She made several visits to the birdcage and her knowledge and love of the horse were readily apparent from her observations.”

“The main race on Boxing Day (other than the Derby) was named the Queen Elizabeth Handicap, an appropriate title in view of the Queen’s visit to Ellerslie on Boxing Day 1953.”

In keeping with Royal protocol, a lift was installed specially for her for that visit. Based behind-the-scenes in our Ascot Stand, it is still operational today and fondly referred to as “The Queen’s Lift”.