Horse racing has long been a Royal pastime, and Ascot Racecourse was founded by Queen Anne in 1711. All 11 crowned Monarchs since have too been patrons of the Royal race course. Royal Ascot takes place in the third week in June, beginning on Tuesday for five meetings. The Royal Procession, a tradition dating back to the reign of George IV, begins the day, with The Queen and members of her family arriving in horse-drawn landaus, stopping near The Royal Enclosure.
The Royal Enclosure is at the heart of Royal Ascot. Entry is exclusive – one must have sponsored the event, as an existing member, for four years. The dress code is also strict: men must wear a top hat with morning dress, while ladies should be in formal daywear. Their head-wear must be at least four-inches at the base, straps on dresses must be at least thick, even if worn under a jacket), and hemlines should fall no lower than just above the knee. This tradition was begun in 1807, at The Gold Cup, Ascot’s most famous race; Beau Brummell, a close friend of the Prince Regent, decreed that men of elegance should wear ‘waisted black coats and white cravats with pantaloons’.
The Queen takes a keen interest in racing, having numerous horses competing each season and has won 22 times at Ascot with her entries. She also takes an interest in the running of Ascot, being kept informed of the order of running and the development of the racing programme at the Royal Meeting. John Weatherby is ‘Her Majesty’s Representative at Ascot’, and he is responsible for all aspects of the Royal Enclosure and the Royal Family’s attendance at Ascot. In 1964 and 2006, Ascot has undergone renovation and redevelopment, and at the latter occasion, Her Majesty official reopened the racecourse.
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