Italy’s Palio turns down Queen Elizabeth’s birthday invitation

Organisers of the Palio horse race of Siena have refused an invitation to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday celebrations.
The event at Windsor will include 900 horses and over 1,000 participants, with some coming from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Royal Cavalry of Oman but Italy’s Palio have turned down the chance to appear.
In a statement, the organising committee said: “The Palio and its historic traditions had the honour of attracting interest from the royal court of the United Kingdom.
“However, for organisational and ethical reasons there were not the right conditions to even address the issue.”
Palio is a horse race held in the main piazza in Siena twice a year during the summer where bareback jockeys race against others from rival districts across the country.
Bruno Valentini, Siena’s mayor, added: “If you want to see the Palio and really understand it, you have to come to Siena. You’ll never see a standard bearer or a drummer outside Siena. They are not circus jugglers but representatives of the contrade who tell a centuries-long history. It is not possible, I’m sorry.”
Organisers of the 89-year-old royal’s celebrations are disappointed by the outcome but insist there are no “hard feelings”.
Jo Peck, the marketing director of the company organising the event, told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: “We were in discussion with the Palio organisers but unfortunately we couldn’t make it work. What we needed didn’t fit in with what they could offer. The Palio people felt they couldn’t show off the event in its best light. But we don’t take it as a sleight. There are no hard feelings.”