Horse-racing at Royal Ascot is one of the most important social, fashion and sporting events of the year in England.
First run in 1711 under the auspice of Queen Anne, tradition continues with a daily horse-drawn procession from Windsor Castle to the racecourse. The Royal carriage goes first and often carries the Queen herself as she’s keen on horse-racing and has owned many champion horses. 2012 is her Diamond Jubilee Year so she is likely to be seen even more than usual.
Running from June 19th until June 23rd, Royal Ascot is an exciting day out. The first day, Tuesday, is the most relaxed as the race meet gets off to a start with races such as the Queen Anne Stakes. Wednesday sees perhaps the most important race this year, the 150th Anniversary of The Prince of Wales’s Stakes with a half-million pound prize. Prince Charles is sure to be in attendance for this one. Thursday is known as Ladies’ Day and this is where the fashion stakes reach their peak. Friday’s most important race is the Coronation Stakes, and Saturday – the final day of the meet – has the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. This day has a bit more a family vibe as it’s the only weekend day of the event.
Anyone can buy tickets to Royal Ascot but the most important thing to remember is that there is a dress code. This is a traditional event and while not everyone can wear designer originals, it is expected – and fun – for men to wear suits and ladies to wear hats; the dress codes are as below.
The cheapest tickets are Silver Ring tickets for which there is no formal dress code, although they do stipulate no advertising slogans and no bare chests! With these tickets you have free seating and access to large screen TVs to watch the action, and you still have a good view of the race track and the Royal Procession. These tickets tend to sell out quite quickly. Children under 18 have free entry and do not require pre-booked tickets.
Grandstand Tickets are the next up in price and allow you access to the racecourse facilities and entertainment including seating, large screens and access to the parade ring, plus a traditional end of day singalong at the bandstand. In the Grandstand area men are required to wear a suit and tie and women to dress in a modest skirt or dress with no sheer straps, no shorts or strapless tops not even if covered by a pashmina or jacket. Ladies must wear a hat, headpiece or fascinator.
The Queen and family will be in the Royal Enclosure, and to join her here, you need to have membership or be sponsored by a member who has attended for at least 4 years. You may apply to your embassy for a daily badge for entry but they are very restricted as is the dress code. Men must wear a black or grey morning suit, which includes a top hat. Ladies must dress demurely and wear a proper hat, no headpieces or fascinators are allowed.
Royal Ascot is a brilliant opportunity to experience English life at its most traditional, grand and fun.