"No thanks, Your Majesty!"
Siena declined the invitation from Queen Elisabeth II to take part in a parade of horses that is being organized in London to celebrate her 90th birthday.
As the Queen is a lover of horses, her staff thought that the participation of Siena’s horse-racing traditions would be a wonderful addition to the celebrations.
The invitation was addressed to the Palio organizers, which is the City of Siena as a whole. In other words, the all community.
In this way the invitation could not be accepted. How can one transport an entire community from one city to another?
The Palio, and its horses, cannot be separated by its home city. Far away from its Contrade and its Piazza, from the people and the passions that sustain it, the traditions of Siena’s Palio would make no sense.
It seems the Queen’s staff was not fully aware of the Palio’s real significance. The Palio is the epitome of a local tradition, deeply rooted in history. No other context can be suitable for it. The Contradas’ colors (by the way, which ones would participate? All of them? How could they be chosen?) under the London sky, would have been looked like a purely folkloristic performance.
Which is exactly what Siena does not want to.
Thanks but no thanks, Your Majesty!
For more info, HERE is a link to an article in the New York Times about Siena turning down the Queen’s offer.