The Queen attends Royal Ascot race meeting
Highlight of British sporting and social calendar
Stiff upper lip, old boy, it’ll be winter soon.
She was cutting it fine for the start of Royal Ascot, but Queen Elizabeth received the help of a veteran lawmaker in her quest to reach the racecourse on time after wrapping up important business in Britain’s Parliament
As temperatures soared to nearly 30C at the Berkshire venue, west of London, organizers said they were considering relaxing the strict dress code for the five-day Royal Meeting, one of the highlights of the British summer’s sporting, fashion and cultural calendar.
But while women racegoers were able to flaunt their summer outfits, Ascot officials stuck to their guns, and gentlemen in the requisite top hat and tails in the Royal Enclosure were ordered to keep jackets on despite the heat.
The first day of Royal Ascot, first held in 1711, opened with the long-held tradition of The Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh and other members of the Royal Family processing in horse-drawn carriages up the Straight Mile past the grandstands.
The color of The Queen’s outfit is always a topic of debate in the run-up to the procession, with oddsmakers taking bets – Tuesday’s dress was lime green with matching hat.
In the second carriage came Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, followed in a third by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Earl and Countess of Wessex.
At the end of the procession, The Queen and the royal party stood with heads bowed during a minute’s silence to remember the victims of the recent Grenfell Tower disaster and the London and Manchester terror attacks.
While the dress code for gentlemen is straightforward – morning suit, grey or black – rules for women are more complicated.
Dresses or skirts must fall just above the knee or lower, shoulder straps should be one inch or greater, hats (not fascinators) – which must be worn – must have a base of four inches (10cm) or greater, and no midriffs must be shown.
The big news in the fashion stakes this year is that jumpsuits (full length) are allowed. Should visitors fail a sartorial test, dress extendors and hats are available. The regulations for both men and women are relaxed incrementally in Ascot’s other enclosures.
The meeting, which runs until Friday, was rocked in the build-up when it was announced popular jockey Frankie Dettori, 46, would not be riding because of a shoulder injury sustained in a fall last week.
The Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes, first run in 1840, opened the six-race card and was won in record time by favorite Ribchester under jockey William Buck.
Australian Michelle Payne, the only female jockey to have won the Melbourne Cup, came fifth on outsider Kaspersky.
Two-time Kentucky Derby-winning jockey John Velazquez took Dettori’s mount on Lady Aurelia and came home a three-length winner from Profitable for American trainer Wesley Ward in the Group 1 King’s Stand Stakes.
Churchill, the English and Irish 2,000 Guineas winner, was the fancy for the St James’s Palace Stakes but finished outside the places as Barney Roy stormed home for trainer Richard Hannon ahead of Aidan O’Brien’s Lancaster Bomber.