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Need for Speed! Prince Philip on His Longtime Love of Carriage Driving: ‘I Didn’t Manage the Obstacles Very Well’

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Prince Philip in 1976.
Photo by David Ashdown/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Prince Philip at the reins!

The royal has a longtime passion for the rough — and sometimes tumble — sport of carriage driving. The prince, who turns 96 in June, was even seen taking four horses and his carriage out for a trot around the grounds below Windsor Castle on Wednesday.

He opened up about his love for the sport in an interview (thought to be the first since the palace announced his retirement from public duties last week) at the Royal Windsor Horse Show on Wednesday.

Peter MacDiarmid/REX/Shutterstock

“I started driving because I’d been playing polo, and I decided I’d give up polo when I was 50,” he told ITV.

“I was looking ’round to see what next, I didn’t know what there was available. And I suddenly thought, ‘Well, we’ve got horses and carriages, so why don’t I have a go?’

“So I borrowed four horses from the stables in London, took them to Norfolk and practiced and thought — Why not?’ ”

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He helped construct the sporting carriage from something he called the “Balmoral dog cart.”

“It had to be rebuilt every year because it got smashed up regularly,” he said.

He also recalled “turning over here in the water” on one dangerous occasion and said that in contests at home and abroad, he found that he “always did rather well at dressage. I didn’t manage the obstacles very well.”

Queen Elizabeth, who has a longtime love of horses, was also at the show on Wednesday, watching one of her horses compete and chatting to riders.