The empire may not be what it was, but there are still some things the sun never sets on. Last week, in full view of Queen Elizabeth II, her royal retinue and 300,000 other sporting types at the 209th running of the Derby on Britain's Epsom Downs, an unannounced entrant took the field. As celebrity tipsters and bettors, including actor George Hamilton and Liza Minnelli, toasted the opening of the British summer social season with champagne and strawberries, Tony Buckmaster doffed his top hat, tore off his black tie and tails and sprinted bareback to the winning post with police and security men a few lengths behind.

Prancing about on the hallowed turf, the buck-naked Buckmaster, 49, waved cheerfully to the royal box. The Queen quickly caught herself in mid-titter and looked modestly away. But Princess Anne, renowned for her earthy hilarity, and the Queen Mum, 88 in August, were less reserved; they grinned and giggled at the streaker's antics.

"I'm only doing this for charity," shouted Buckmaster when the police finally collared him. "I've made a fortune." Buckmaster, a builder from Essex, was later fined $100 for disorderly conduct, and the supposed recipient of his charity, the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, disavowed any connection with him.

Meanwhile, Buckmaster thoroughly upstaged the true winner of the Derby: Kahyasi, a Thoroughbred owned by the Aga Khan and ridden by jockey Ray Cochrane. And a policeman who covered Buckmaster's private parts with his hat—to save the Queen from embarrassment, he said—expressed his devout wish for a new one. Said the disconcerted bobby: "I don't fancy putting this helmet on my head anymore."