Though sunny skies were hard to find, the opening day at Royal Ascot 2016 was filled with anticipation, excitement and the sartorial splendour this week in June is famous for. Determined not to let the weather get in their way the ladies and gentleman attending today’s races were dressed in their best with the usual parade of elaborate hats, dresses and coordinated head-to-toe looks which was just as dazzling as always.
As the clock struck 14:00 the sun came out (temporarily) and top hats and fascinators emerged from under umbrellas as the crowds prepared for the arrival of The Queen in the royal carriage procession, who was gorgeous in an eye-catching yellow hat and coat. She was joined by Prince Philip, the Duke of York and Prince Harry.
Following in the other carriages were Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Princess Beatrice, the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke and Duchess of Argyll and the Viscount and Viscountess Petersham.
After a lap around the parade ring in which the royals waved enthusiastically to the gathered crowds, they disembarked and were joined by Mike and Zara Tindall, as well as other friends from the royal enclosure. But as the clouds returned and the start of the first race approached the group quickly made their way inside.
The day’s racing began with The Queen Anne Stakes which saw an exhilarating win for the horse Tepin, who received his prize from Elizabeth Hurley who stars as Queen Helena in TV show ‘The Royals’. Further races saw trophy presentations from the Princess Royal and Prince Harry, who brought in an enthusiastic crowd of admirers around the parade ring.
Though the inclement weather meant that it was one of the quieter opening days that Royal Ascot has experienced in recent years the race-goers who did make it out were determined to make the day great and share the experience with Her Majesty.
It’s no secret that Royal Ascot is close to Her Majesty’s heart and she shared her love for the annual event in a letter of welcome in the official programme. It read:
‘I have been deeply touched by the kind birthday wishes I have received this year and to have this milestone commemorated in the title of Royal Ascot’s centrepiece race, The Gold Cup.
‘Of my many memories, visits to Royal Ascot with my family are amongst the most cherished. I first attended racing at Ascot in 1945, when I was just nineteen.
‘Throughout my life I have seen the quality of sport at Royal Ascot increase significantly and I would like to thank the owners and trainers who bring the best horses in the world to compete here. I wish all of you good fortune.
‘To all those who breed, own, train, ride and look after horses, and to all this week’s visitors from home and further afield, may I offer a very warm welcome to Royal Ascot.
I look forward to seeing what the rest of the week has in store!