As the world mourns the death of Queen Elizabeth II and celebrates her life, a Southwest Florida couple is reflecting on the time they spent with her.
Decades ago, and at separate times, Richard Ainsworth and Joanna Sime met the queen.
Ainsworth has something in common with the queen. “I’ve always loved horses I grew up with horses.”
That passion led him to join her household cavalry in the 1970s, where he acted as a bodyguard of sorts for her majesty. Ainsworth now owns the Everglades Equestrian Center.
“This was an opportunity where I could get the best of both worlds, learn to be a mechanic with the armored car divisions, and also get to do some ceremonial duties with the horses, so it was a wonderful experience,” said Ainsworth.
That opportunity brought him to Buckingham Palace, where he got to have tea with Queen Elizabeth II.
“We sat in the back in the gardens, which is very, very beautiful. And she served us tea. She actually served us tea. So yeah, so that’s just the kind of character she was. She was very, very down-to-earth, very witty. I mean, just someone you would love to meet and chat to,” Ainsworth said.
That love of horses brought him to his wife Joanna Sime, who also met the queen when she competed in gymnastics in her majesty’s commonwealth games.
“It was my first time ever performing in front of the queen, like 80,000 people in the audience and then and the queen,” said Sime. “And so it was it was lovely to meet her, a real privilege.”
Their affection for horses is now a family affair. The couple joins the rest of the U.K. and the world in mourning their beloved monarch.
“She’s been there our whole life. Since the day we were born,” said Sime.