Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday this year promises to be quite the celebration in England, where thousands of people are expected to turn out for a street party to honor the monarch. But the Italian horses of the Palio won't be attending.
The organizers of the Palio di Siena, or Il Palio, declined the palace's invitation to appear for the horse-loving queen's birthday, La Stampa reported. Siena is famous for the brief, twice-yearly race in which jockeys from various city wards ride horses bareback around the Piazza del Campo.
"It was mostly for organizational issues, as well as ethical ones," Siena Mayor Bruno Valentini told the Italian news outlet, according to a translation from the Local. “The theatre of the Palio is the piazza. Outside of that space it doesn't make any sense.”
Valentini said the queen should come see the event in person, because otherwise the logistics of the race wouldn't work. He also defended his decision, adding that he hadn't technically rejected the monarch's request. "We have not said no to the queen, because we were contacted by an agency, not directly by the crown," Valentini said.
Each year, Queen Elizabeth has two birthdays — one on April 21, her actual date of birth, and one in June, the official celebration. Plans for the summer party were already causing a commotion overseas. Her grandson Peter Phillips announced last week that the Patron's Lunch, a charity street party in St. James Park in London, will sell tickets for £150, or about $212. Phillips told reporters the event was "not exactly a cheap exercise," but some of the organizations hoping to attend weren't happy with the price.
“Most of the charities would rather pay £150 than not have the event at all, but perhaps it is a bit of a cheek," an anonymous chairman of one of the nonprofits told the Telegraph. “There will be some people who will be cross, I’m sure.”