It's odd when someone whose name you've heard your entire life passes away. Of course, the "someone" in question is Queen Elizabeth II, who died Thursday at the age of 96.

While I feel certain the royal family would consider it crass to call her a global celebrity, that is exactly what she was...and one of the biggest and most easily recognizable. She reigned for 70 years, eclipsing her great-great-grandmother Queen Victoria by just shy of seven years as the longest-reigning British monarch.

As a child, I thought she was a homebody. I thought all monarchs were. I just figured they sat on their thrones and then went to bed at night. That's a kid for you. Obviously as I got older I realized there are many reasons for British monarchs to travel, and Queen Elizabeth was no exception.

And she loved coming to Kentucky. I can only assume that since she visited the Commonwealth on five occasions.


During her first visit, in 1984, Queen Elizabeth toured a number of Kentucky horse farms and attended the first running of the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland in Lexington where she presented a trophy to the owner of Sintra, the winning horse.


In 1986, the queen paid what Associated Press reporter Mike Embry called a "low-key" visit to Kentucky. She would stay with close friends William S. Farish III and his wife Sarah at Lane's End Farm where she was keeping horses. She loved horses and she loved Kentucky. Here's how her visit began 36 years ago:


You heard then-Governor Martha Layne Collins predict that Queen Elizabeth would return, and she was right. In 1989, the queen came back to Kentucky for what was dubbed a working holiday. As United Press International's Brian Malloy put it, she was "touring horse farms for potential bloodstock for her royal breeding operations."

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It would only be a couple of years before the queen returned to Kentucky in 1991, and this time, her stay in the Commonwealth was the finale of her tour of the U.S. It was also a private visit, with very little opportunities for the public to see her that year.

After touring horse farms, Queen Elizabeth was once again a guest of her friends, the Farishes, before flying back to England.


However, DESPITE her close friendship with the Farishes and her love of Kentucky, the queen waited another 16 years before returning. It would be her fifth and final visit to the Commonwealth. And though she DID love it here and was quite the equine aficionado, in 2007, she made her ONLY appearance at the Kentucky Derby.

With Queen Elizabeth's passing, all eyes turn toward Prince Charles who will now be known as King Charles III. But an official ceremony isn't likely to take place until sometime in 2023.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Life in Photos

From her childhood as a princess to her historic Platinum Jubilee, revisit some of the late Queen Elizabeth II's most memorable moments throughout her life.

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