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  22 May 2022, 14:44

Queen's pet passions to take centre stage in Jubilee parade

COVENTRY, United Kingdom, May 22, 2022 (BSS/AFP) - Corgi dogs, horses and 
swans are all being put through their paces in a historic warehouse in 
Coventry ahead of their starring roles in a parade to mark Queen Elizabeth 
II's 70-year reign. 

One of the procession's tableaux, entitled "The Queen's Favourites", has been 
commissioned from Imagineer, an outdoor events company based in the English 
West Midlands city. 

Director Jane Hytch said the royal commission came as a "total surprise", but 
that the job was a "huge honour".

The parade, touching on more personal aspects of the 96-year-old queen's 
life, will wind through central London to Buckingham Palace on June 5.

"When we were given the queen's favourites... we thought about what does she 
love outside of all her duties?" said artistic director Kathi Leahy.

Dogs and horses were the obvious choices. 

In particular, Leahy focused on the queen's most famous canine companions, 
the short-legged, big-eared corgis. 

A pack of 20 corgi puppets, mounted on wheels, will be stars of the show. The 
lead puppet is named Susan, after the first corgi given to Princess Elizabeth 
by her parents for her 18th birthday. 

Each one has its own expression. One, with full brown eyebrows, has been 
nicknamed Groucho Marx. 

- Lady Godiva -

To make the puppets as lifelike as possible, each of the young handlers was 
asked during rehearsals at "Corgi training camp" to "really look at their 
dogs and think about the character".

"Are they mischievous? Are they young? Are they old?" explained Leahy.

The parade also has a special place for horses, another of the queen's great 
passions.

It will bring to life 10 of her most beloved companions: from Peggy, the 
Shetland pony given to her by father King George V when she was four, to 
Burmese, the mare she rode several times during annual "Trooping of The 
Colour" ceremonies to mark her birthday. 

Some of the horses are depicted with gears, in a tribute to Coventry's rich 
industrial past. 

It was on the site of Imagineer's workshop that the first British motor car 
was built, at the end of the 19th century. 

To celebrate the city's heritage, a giant Lady Godiva puppet, created for the 
2012 London Olympics, will also take part in the parade. 

It pays tribute to the 11th century figure who, according to legend, rode 
naked through the city on horseback to persuade her husband the Earl of 
Mercia to lower taxes. 

The procession, bringing together 140 cast members, will also evoke the 
annual counting of swans on the Thames. By ancient tradition, all swans in 
England belong to the crown.

It will also use boats dear to Prince Philip, in a tribute to the queen's 
husband, a former naval commander who died in April 2021 at the age of 99.

Hytch noted that with a global television audience watching the pageant, 
"there'll be a lot of adrenaline, a lot of excitement" for the Imagineer 
crew.

"We've rehearsed and rehearsed, so I think we will do a great job."

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