Fact Check

The Queen of England and the Farting Horse

No fewer than five U.S. presidents have found themselves the butt of this particular joke.

Published Nov 8, 2021

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 16:  The Queen Making Her Way By Carriage At Trooping The Colour - The Queen's Official Birthday Which Is Celebrated Each Year With A Military Parade And March-past.  (Photo by Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images) (Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images)
Image Via Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images
While on a carriage ride with Queen Elizabeth II during a state visit to the United Kingdom, a foreign dignitary mistook a horse's flatulence for that of the queen.

Everyone knows that flatulence is a fact of life, though there's little comfort in that when a fart escapes in public and causes embarrassment. Indeed, sometimes the reaction to a fart is more embarrassing than the act itself, as illustrated by the story we will share with you below.

It's customary for U.S presidents to pay state visits to the United Kingdom, where they meet with Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the royal family amid the usual pomp and circumstance. During one such visit, according to a story circulating on social media, then-U.S. President Donald Trump was treated to a horse-drawn carriage ride with the queen.

This, supposedly, occurred during that ride (from a Facebook post dated Oct. 31, 2021):

A little Donald Trump humor that came up today as a memory from 2018:

As Air Force One arrives at the Heathrow Airport, President Trump strides to a warm and dignified reception from the Queen.

They are driven in a 1934 Bentley to the edge of central London, where they change to a magnificent 17th century carriage hitched to six white horses. They continue on towards Buckingham Palace, waving to the thousands of cheering Britons; all is going well.

Suddenly, the right rear horse lets out the most horrendous earth shattering fart ever heard in the British Empire. The smell is so atrocious that both passengers in the carriage must use handkerchiefs over their noses. The fart shakes the coach, but, the two Heads of State do their best to ignore the incident.

The Queen politely turns to President Trump and says:

"Mr. President, please accept my deepest regrets. I am sure you understand there are some things that even a Queen cannot control."

Trump, always trying to be "Presidential," responded:

"Your Majesty, do not give the matter another thought . . . until you mentioned it, I thought it was one of the horses."

It's an amusing anecdote to be sure, but before you take it as gospel, consider this variant of the same story posted to Facebook in 2011:

President Obama & the Queen are in a carriage hitched to 6 horses when a horse lets fly with an earth shattering Fart. The smell is atrocious. The Queen turns to Obama, "Please accept my regrets. I’m sure you understand there are some things that even a Queen cannot control." Obama replies: "Your Majesty, don't give it another thought. Until you mentioned it, I thought it was one of the horses."

And this version, which circulated via forwarded email in December 2003:

At Heathrow Airport in England, a 300-foot red carpet was stretched out to Air Force One and President Bush strode to a warm but dignified handshake from Queen Elizabeth II. They rode in a silver 1934 Bentley to the edge of central London where they boarded an open 17th century coach hitched to six magnificent white horses. As they rode toward Buckingham Palace, each looking to their side and waving to the thousands of cheering Britons lining the streets, all was going well. This was indeed a glorious display of pageantry and dignity. Suddenly the scene was shattered when the right rear horse let rip the most horrendous, earth-shattering, eye-smarting blast of flatulence, and the coach immediately filled with noxious fumes.

Uncomfortable, but maintaining control, the two dignitaries did their best to ignore the whole incident, but then the Queen decided that was a ridiculous manner with which to handle a most embarrassing situation. She turned to Mr. Bush and explained, "Mr. President, please accept my regrets. I'm sure you understand that there are some things even a Queen cannot control."

George W., ever the Texas gentleman, replied, "Your Majesty, please don't give the matter another thought. You know, if you hadn't said something I would have assumed it was one of the horses."

And this version, featuring President Bill Clinton, which also made the rounds in the early 2000s via forwarded email:

One day President Clinton was visiting Queen Elizabeth and she decided to take him for a tour of London in the Royal Carriage. Now the carriage was being pulled by six Royal Stallions and one of them suddenly passed gas. It sounded like a twenty one gun salute it was so loud. The smell permeated the inside of the carriage and the Queen was totally devastated.

"I apologize profusely for the terrible smell inside the carriage", she said.

"Oh, that's alright", said the President, for a minute there I thought it was the horse."

Here we have Ronald Reagan sharing a carriage ride with the queen:

One of Queen Elizabeth II's favorite stories reportedly recounted a ride she took with President Ronald Reagan, on his visit to London, in the Queen's State Carriage. As they paraded through London, one of the Queen's carriage horses suffered an embarassing gas attack. As the horse farted up a storm, the carriage driver and guards did their best to maintain decorum.

Queen Elizabeth reportedly turned to Reagan and said with a sly smile: "I'm sorry, Mr. President, but there are some things even a Queen cannot command."

Reagan smiled back and leaned close to the Queen and said: "Don't worry about it, Your Majesty. In fact, if you hadn't said anything I would have assumed it was the horse."

Both laughed all the way back to Buckingham.

Clearly, this tale of stately decorum broken by breaking wind, at least as presented in the examples above, is a bawdy contemporary legend, not a historical fact. That having been said, we close with this excerpt from the obituary of Brigadier Sir Gregor MacGregor, 23rd Chief of Clan Gregor, as published in The Telegraph, April 15, 2003:

A good horseman, MacGregor was once passing in front of the band when his mount noisily broke wind. "Sorry about that, Brigade of Drums," he called out.

"That's all right, sir," a piper retorted. "We thought it was the horse."


Brigadier Sir Gregor MacGregor of MacGregor. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/1427537/Brigadier-Sir-Gregor-MacGregor-of-MacGregor.html. Accessed 8 Nov. 2021.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.