Solvang, California — Improbably and indelibly, Monty Roberts became's horseman and more.
The queen, who had a lifelong love of horses, invited the California cowboy to her stables at Windsor Castle in 1989. Roberts had revolutionized horse training by taming horses using the silent language of kindness.
"I thought she was a groom," Roberts told CBS News of the meeting. "And I said, 'Nice to meet you.' I stepped back and I went, 'Oh my God. Oh, you're the queen.' And she said, 'Yes, last time I checked.'"
From there came handwritten letters and annual Christmas greetings throughout their three-decade friendship. Roberts said Queen Elizabeth treated him like a younger brother.
"I would always call her 'Her Majesty,' but the friendship was deep," he said.
When asked whether he ever thought about what a cowboy like him was doing hanging out with the queen, Roberts said: "Only about two or three times a day — and every night when I went to bed!"
On Monday, Roberts, who is still in shock over his friend's death, will attend her funeral.
"I don't want to let her go," he said. "She's going to be with me every instant that I'm alive."