A Race Fit For A Queen: When Her Majesty Visited Silverstone

Queen Elizabeth
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LWOS looks back to when Her Majesty, The Queen, then-Princess Elizabeth, attended the first ever Formula 1 Grand Prix.

Last Sunday, Formula 1 came together to pay tribute to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, with a minute’s silence before the Italian Grand Prix. Many of the teams, British and otherwise, chose to bear an array of tributes across their cars as a sign of respect for the longest-reigning Monarch in British royal history, and the second-longest overall.

There at the start of Formula 1

Whilst connections between the British Monarchy and motorsport are loose, it is known that as Princess Elizabeth, The Queen visited the first ever Formula 1 race in history – The British Grand Prix in 1950, at Silverstone.

Accompanied by her father, King George VI, and her mother, the then-Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother), Her Majesty partook in meeting the drivers before the race. The drivers lined-up to shake hands with the Royal Family, as well as the Duke and Countess Mountbatten of Burma, on a sunny Springtime afternoon.

The race was dominated by the Alfa Romeo quartet of Guiseppe “Nino” Farina, Luigi Fagioli, Juan Manuel Fangio, and Reg Parnell, who started the race in that order. With no Ferraris entered into the race, the Alfas quickly streaked away from the chasing pack and apparently switched order several times to keep the crowd entertained. Fangio would drop out of the race with just eight laps remaining, leaving Farina to claim a historic victory, with Fagioli 2nd and Parnell 3rd.

The royal presence at Silverstone did not end with the British. The race was entered by Prince Bira of Siam, and the Swiss Baron, Toulo de Graffenried, who had won the corresponding race the year before.

Princess Elizabeth would of course be Queen a little under two years later, ascending to the throne on February 6th, 1952. She would reign for the next 70 years, during which time four Formula 1 drivers – Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, Jackie Stewart, and Lewis Hamilton – were Knighted, although not all by The Queen herself.

Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II 1926-2022

Featured Image Credit: Popperfoto via Getty Images/Getty Images