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Family day out for Queen on first day of Royal Ascot

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were among those accompanying the monarch on the first day’s racing.

The Queen arrives by carriage (Jonathan Brady/PA)
The Queen arrives by carriage (Jonathan Brady/PA)

Royal Ascot was a family day out for the Queen who was joined by her children and grandchildren for an afternoon out at the races.

Despite the rain, thousands of racegoers were treated to the sight of the head of state and senior royals processing in carriages along the famous Berkshire course to mark the start of the event.

In a lighter moment, former England rugby star Mike Tindall, husband of the Queen’s granddaughter Zara Tindall, produced a tiny top hat from inside his top hat to amuse the Queen and other royals.

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The Duchess of Cambridge wore an Elie Saab outfit with a hat by Philip Treacy (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The monarch was joined in her carriage by the Duke of York and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and his wife Queen Maxima, who on Monday attended an Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle.

Following was the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall. In the third carriage was the Princess Royal and the Earl and Countess of Wessex, while the final coach carried Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

The only immediate family members missing were the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who are looking after their six-week-old baby Archie.

The Queen spoke about her passion for horses in the foreword to the official programme for the first day of the Berkshire meet, writing: “Racing began at Ascot over 300 years ago and while much has changed, the horses remain the stars, thrilling us with their beauty, brilliance and courage.

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Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“The quality and depth of competition at the royal meeting has also continued to prosper, with eight group one races taking place this week.”

After the carriages arrived in the parade ring, the royals mingled, studying the form of the horses in the programme, with the Queen chatting to her granddaughters Beatrice and Eugenie while nearby Camilla was deep in conversation with the Queen’s racing manager John Warren.

The demonstrative Zara hugged, kissed and wrapped her arms around the shoulders of her family from Charles and Kate to William and Beatrice and Eugenie.

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The Queen is joined by the Duke of Cambridge and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The event is regularly attended by the Queen, who is a keen horse owner and passionate breeder of thoroughbreds with more than 20 Royal Ascot winners.

Royal Ascot is as much a social and fashion occasion as a sporting event, and racegoers took the opportunity to turn on the style, from chic hats and summer dresses to sharp suits and top hat and tails.

The royal men looked smart in their morning suits and silk top hats, while the Queen was elegant in an Angela Kelly outfit and hat, with a Canadian Northern Star diamond brooch.

Kate wore an Elie Saab outfit with a hat by Philip Treacy, while Sophie looked stylish in an Emilia Wickstead dress and Jane Taylor hat.

Later the Cambridges presented Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, prime minister of the United Arab Emirates, with his winning trophy after the thoroughbred Blue Point, from his Godolphin stable, won the King’s Stand Stakes.

As the rain fell William and Kate also gave an award to the winning jockey James Doyle who chatted to the royals for a few minutes before they left for the royal box.

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