Central Kentuckians recall the Queen’s visits to Kentucky
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - As a fan of horses, Queen Elizabeth II made multiple trips to Kentucky. Her final trip to the commonwealth came in 2007.
Scott Lanter, the vice president of public safety and operations at Blue Grass Airport, worked on every one of the Queen’s visits. He said back in the 1980s, he was simply told what to do, but by her 2007 visit for the Kentucky Derby, he himself had the honor of being the point person for that trip.
Lanter walked our crew through history on Thursday, showing us pictures from the Queen’s visits through the airport. He told us if you think coordinating trips for presidential candidates, or even vice presidents and presidents themselves is a lot of work, it’s nothing compared to the weeks of work that went into coordinating the Queen’s visits to Kentucky.
For example, in 2007, airport staff met every day for two weeks prior to the visit just to secure flight plans. Lanter said a cool tidbit is nowadays, British military have their own private VIP plane, But Queen Elizabeth used to fly on British Airway aircraft.
They created what was called the “Queen’s Package,” so in 2007, when they knew the Queen had to fly internationally, they went into a plan and fit the entire aircraft with security and amenities packages that were fit for royalty.
His work on those trips is something Lanter said he’ll never forget.
“It’s kind of scary, but humbling to know that they trust you with taking care of her. I didn’t get to talk to her directly, but in close proximity you just could tell she was a kind, humble person. Everyone she met, she tried to get on their level. And I was just very impressed by that,” Lanter said.
Well-known horse trainer Wesley Ward told us his love of racing brought him together with the Queen several times.
He’s won many races, but it’s his times at the Royal Ascot he’s reminiscing on. He said he was so nervous the first time he was told the Queen was requesting a word with him.
“As soon as we started talking, you know, I was real nervous. She started asking me a million questions, just like any racing fan would ask. Just makes you feel real, real comfortable,” Ward said. “I was just answering all of her questions. Then about 5, 10 minutes in, I started thinking to myself, ‘Man, I’m sitting next to the Queen of England.’”
Ward watched his colt No Nay Never win in the Norfolk Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2013.
“Immediately after we took the winner circle picture, they said the Queen would request my presence,” Ward said.
Ward must have impressed Queen Elizabeth with his knowledge of the sport as he was asked back the following race. Again, seated right next to the Queen.
“A guy came with white gloves. He picked the trophy up and he went to take it down. We’re still sitting here talking and I notice her eyes kind of drifting off,” Ward said. “So I knew she had a horse in the race. So I reached down, I thought her horse had a chance, so I reached down. I touched her knee and said, ‘Don’t you worry. That trophy is going to come right back here. It’s coming back to you. She said, ‘Really? You think so?’ I said, ‘Yeah. I do.’ Well, she ended up winning the race. But what I didn’t know is you’re not supposed to touch the Queen. I looked back behind me and everyone’s got their jaw open. I just didn’t know that until afterwards.”
The Queen even presented Ward with a trophy after one of his Royal Ascot wins. He said she took the time to meet and get to know his kids, as well.
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