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Royal Ascot dress rules relaxed as racegoers wilt in the heat

A minute’s silence was observed in memory of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and London and Manchester terror attacks.

Sweltering conditions at Royal Ascot forced organisers to relax the strict dress rules in the prestigious royal enclosure for men dressed in top hat and tails.

With racegoers wilting in the heat on the opening day of the famous race meet – which held a minute’s silence to remember the victims of the recent terrorist attacks and the tower block inferno – men in the exclusive area were allowed to remove their jackets.

The Queen was joined at the sporting and social occasion by senior members of her family including the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and other members of the monarchy.

The famous sporting event attracts hundreds of thousands of racegoers over the five-day meeting and is a firm fixture in the Queen’s diary.

When temperatures hit 30 degrees Celsius during the afternoon the racecourse decided to relax its rules – believed to be for the first time – for men in the Royal Enclosure, which stipulate they must wear black or grey morning dress with a waistcoat and tie – but not a cravat – and a black or grey top hat.

A Royal Ascot spokesman said: “We took the decision in light of the hot weather, not to enforce the jackets rule.”

For women, strapless, off-the-shoulder, halter-neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap narrower than 1in (2.5cm) are banned in the exclusive area.

Midriffs must be covered and fascinators are also forbidden.

For the first time, jumpsuits are being permitted as suitable attire for women in the Royal Enclosure – but they must be full length to the ankle.

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The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge with the Earl and Countess of Wessex (Philip Toscano/PA)

Earlier the Queen led racegoers and her family in observing a minute’s silence in memory of the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire and London and Manchester terror attacks.

With her head bowed and her hands clasped in front of her, the Queen joined tens of thousands of punters paying their respects.

The minute’s silence was introduced by an announcer who told the racecourse it was a “mark of respect for the victims and families so tragically affected by recent events in the United Kingdom”.

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Queen Elizabeth II in her carriage (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The mood was lightened during the day when the Countess of Wessex and Kate shared a humorous moment when they were in the traditional carriage procession – led by the Queen – that proceeds the first race.

Both royal women burst into laughter as the Duchess prepared to catch the Countess as she appeared to lose her balance while in the carriage.

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The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall (Brian Lawless/PA)

William and Kate presented the prizes to the winning owners, trainer and jockey of the King’s Stand Stakes which was won by Lady Aurelia.

And Charles and Camilla also handed out the trophies to Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation whose horse Barney Roy won the aptly named St James’s Palace Stakes.

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