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While ongoing mobility issues prevented the monarch, 96, from attending the 243rd running of the historic Epsom Derby on Saturday, PEOPLE has confirmed she is watching the race on TV.
In honor of the Queen's regal milestone, Princess Anne, 71, granddaughter Zara Tindall, 41, and husband, ex-England rugby star Mike Tindall, 43, were greeted at the race track by a special honor guard formed by 40 royal jockeys wearing the Queen's famous purple and gold racing colors.
The Queen also missed Friday's Jubilee thanksgiving service after experiencing "discomfort" during Thursday's Trooping the Colour parade.
James Whatling / MEGA Princess Anne
"We would like to wish Her Majesty The Queen a wonderful Platinum Jubilee. It is a rare occasion that The Queen is unable to join us at Epsom Downs but we are delighted she plans to enjoy Derby Day on television," Phil White, London Regional Director for The Jockey Club, said.
James Whatling / MEGA Zara and Mike Tindall
As Anne greeted the honor guard, she was overheard saying, "You had to stand here waiting for us — I'm sorry to interrupt. Good luck!"
Zara also wished the trainers and owners "good luck," telling the group: "I'm so excited. I've never been."
In an interview with ITV, Zara said of the Jubilee weekend, "There's so much going on in the world at the moment that's not positive, and this is a great weekend to be positive and just enjoy everyone together."
"Everyone has had such a tricky time over the last two years, so actually to have everyone together and to be able to do these occasions together and celebrate an amazing lady has been amazing. And this is my first time here, so I'm really excited to be here," she continued.
Andrew Redington/Getty Images Zara Tindall
Of the Queen's absence, Mike said, "She would be definitely be watching. She is way more knowledgeable than probably most of us here and absolutely loves her horses. It is a passion of her life and she will know exactly what's going on. And she's got runners all over today, so she's busy."
The outing was a family affair — Anne's son Peter Phillips also joined, making his public debut with his new girlfriend Lindsay Wallace. Phillips and his wife Autumn (née Kelly) announced their separation in February 2020. The former couple, who share two daughters, finalized their divorce last June.
David Davies/PA Images via Getty Lindsay Wallace and Peter Phillips
American jockey Steve Cauthen, who was part of the honor guard, tells PEOPLE: "I used to do some charity work with the Princess Royal, so it was great to see her. It's just a great atmosphere and a great day. Thank goodness the sun came out!
"I am honored to be asked to come and to be here. The fact it's Jubilee day makes it even more special. Obviously, we all wish the Queen could be here but I'm staying through Ascot, so I'm hoping maybe at some point I'll be able to see her."
While the Queen wasn't in attendance, her TV counterpart made an appearance! Imelda Staunton, who plays the Queen in The Crown's upcoming season 5, was among the stars at the Derby.
Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images Imelda Staunton (second right)
Staunton said she was "honored" to be invited to the Derby, which is part of The Queen's official Platinum Jubilee celebrations this year.
"It's a great privilege to play The Queen, and obviously very daunting to be doing that. But it's a huge responsibility which I take on gladly. You're playing this country's biggest icon," she said.
Until the pandemic, the Queen, who famously loves horseraces, had only missed Derby Day twice in her reign. She first visited the historic south of London race just four days after her 1953 coronation to watch her horse, Aureole — which was trained by her father, King George VI — finish second.
Andrew Redington/Getty Images Princess Anne
Despite numerous attempts since — including a third-place finish in 2011 — it remains the closest the avid race fan has ever come to winning the Derby, considered to be the most prestigious prize in English racing.
The Queen herself initially entered three runners in this year's race but her hopes of having a winner on this year's Derby Day ended earlier this week as her only runner was pulled out of a race.
Throughout her life, Queen Elizabeth has always had a fondness for horses and was given her first horse (a Shetland pony) when she was just 4 years old. She's also been known to get animated at horse racing events, enthusiastically cheering for her horses.
🚨MUST WATCH FOOTAGE🚨
Rare footage of The Queen at the 1991 Derby taken from the Royal Box.
Look at the excitement on Her Majesty’s face as she wins £16 in the sweepstake!
The #PlatinumJubilee Derby takes place in six days time.pic.twitter.com/lW48saawea
— Platinum Jubilee News (@Platinum2022) May 29, 2022
However, she reportedly hasn't ridden since early September.
"She was in quite a bit of discomfort," a source told The Sun in October. "She adores riding, and it has been part of her ritual for most of her life. She has been extremely disappointed not to go riding since the beginning of September."
Despite this, the royal great-grandmother still has a knowledge of horses that is second to none.
"You've got to be careful what you say, because she'll pick you up if you get it wrong," former royal jockey Willie Carson told the Jockey Club ahead of the race. "It's her passion, her hobby, and she really enjoys doing it."
Chris Jackson/Getty Queen Elizabeth
"It goes back to wartime, when she first went to Newmarket, when her father gave her this horse. She really got excited about the horse racing," he added.
"It's not just the horse racing she enjoys, she enjoys the breeding side of it," Carson, who has ridden more winners for the Queen than any other jockey, continued. "She likes to know from trainers how the horse is behaving and its attitude, its temperament. She wants to know those things.
henry dallal photography Queen Elizabeth
"That's what she's really interested in. The winning post is the end result and she enjoys that, of course, but she enjoys everything before you get to the winning post. That gives her the most pleasure."
She also celebrated her 96th birthday in April with the release of a majestic photo of herself surrounded by her beloved fell ponies, Bybeck Katie and Bybeck Nightingale.