LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain arrived Friday in Kentucky Bluegrass Country to begin a 'working holiday' touring horse farms for potential bloodstock for her royal breeding operations.
A Royal Air Force VC-10 -- sprouting two small flags from near the cockpit area displaying the queen's personal standard and the U.S. Stars and Stripes -- touched down at Lexington's Blue Grass Airport at 4:36 p.m., and taxied to a waiting entourage.
The queen was greeted by her hosts, William S. Farish III and his wife Sarah. Farish, the owner of the prominent Lane's End Farm near Versailles, just last week played host to President Bush, another personal friend.
British Ambassador Anthony Acland, his wife and a group of local dignataries also greeted the queen. Ten-year-old Amanda Case, daughter of the head of airport security, curtsied and presented the queen with a bouquet of spring flowers.
'She wasn't like I imagined. She was neat,' the fourth-grader said, adding she thought the queen would arrive dressed in robes and wearing a crown.
Queen Elizabeth was attired in a turquoise two-piece outfit with a navy blue hat, shoes, gloves and purse.
She spent about seven minutes shaking hands along the receiving line before giving a brief wave to the crowd of about 200 onlookers, who applauded. She and Farish then stepped into a waiting black Cadillac and sped off in a 10-car motorcade bound for Lane's End Farm about 10 miles away.
The visit is the third time the queen has toured Kentucky horse farms, each time staying with the Farishes. It is believed to be the first time the queen has ever conducted three private visits in one location outside Great Britain, according to British officials. Farish met the royal family when he was an avid polo player in the 1970s, and developed a lifelong friendship.
'I think the reason the queen keeps coming back here is firstly, she is an expert and very enthusiastic horse breeder and Kentucky has an unrivaled reputation as a horse breeding state and horse breeding area,' said Francis Cornish, information counselor at the British Embassy. 'And secondly because on her two previous visits she greatly enjoyed herself. She very much enjoys staying with the Farishes.'
The visit is strictly private, and the only time the queen will venture from the Farishes' 3,000-acre farm will be to visit about one dozen horse farms to view stallions, half of which she has previously toured on her 1984 and 1986 visits. Top stallions she is scheduled to see include Nureyev, Seattle Slew, Secretariat and Mr. Prospector.
The only opportunity the media will get to see the queen other than her departure Tuesday morning and her arrival is on Saturday, when she will view at Lane's End two of her broodmares boarded in the United States -- Christchurch and Highclere. Both have foals, and Christchurch just gave birth Monday.
Unlike her previous visits, the queen will not be attending church services Sunday, which is very rare. Because of an official visit to the Channel Islands this week and her hosting President Bush at Buckingham Palace on Thursday, her visit was truncated and she wanted to devote as much time as possible to viewing the horse farms and stallions, Cornish said.