The coronavirus pandemic means that the annual horse racing meeting Royal Ascot will look very different this year.
The popular event, which attracts thousands of race-goers, kicks off today, and for the first time in its 110-year-history, Royal Ascot will take place without visitors.
The meeting will instead be held ‘behind closed doors’, with only jockeys, commentators, racing staff and broadcast staff allowed on to the racecourse, which will be televised.
And that means that for the first time ever, Royal Ascot will also not be attended by the the royal family.
It is normally one of the Queen’s favourite events of the year, and over the course of the five days, she attends each day, usually with various members of her family in tow.
Usually, the public can look forward to the Royal Procession, which begins at the Queen’s home of Windsor Castle six miles away from the racecourse, and comes to an end in the parade ring, with the family in carriages ready to greet the public.
But of course, that will all be absent this year. So given that we don’t have any royal sightings to look forward to at Ascot this year, we thought we’d round up some of our favourite moments at the special meeting over the past few years at Royal Ascot – from the significant, to the downright hilarious.
1. Sarah Ferguson’s delighted wave to the Queen
She may be their relative (grandmother, mother-in-law, mother, etc), but it looks as though the royals often get just as excited as us mere mortals to see the monarch sometimes!
It is protocol for the other members of the family to greet the Queen on the lawn of Royal Ascot, as she is normally the last to arrive.
And during the 2017 event, Sarah Ferguson, the Queen’s former daugthter-in-law, couldn’t have looked happier to see her!
The Duchess of York stood by her ex-husband and eldest daughter Princess Beatrice, to wave and curtsey to the monarch.
It was also a rare moment seeing the Duke and Duchess of York together alongside their children in public.
If you’re a fan of the Duchess’s dress from this year, Reiss are currently selling a brilliant dupe (albeit in a lighter blue shade) – so why not pop it on your must-buy list for when events start back up again?
2. Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan’s debut Royal Ascot appearance
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made their first joint appearance at Royal Ascot together just a month after their marriage back in 2018.
While Harry had attended the event before, it was the first time for Meghan, and one of their first official appearance in public as husband and wife.
The couple arrived in a carriage alongside Prince Edward and the Countess of Wessex, and enjoyed the races from the Royal Box alongside the Queen.
If you love Duchess Meghan’s Royal Ascot look, replicate it with this more relaxed shirt dress from Boden at John Lewis & Partners – ideal for a summer spent at home!
3. Sophie Wessex’s brilliant reactions to the races over the years
It’s reported that the Countess of Wessex loves horse racing almost as much as her mother-in-law, and her fabulous reactions to the Royal Ascot races over the years proves just how invested she is!
Sophie is often pictured looking tense, thrilled, excited and frustrated as she watches on at Ascot – see a series of our favourite reactions below…
This L.K.Bennett dress is fun twist of Sophie’s dress above – with the long, billowed skirt and chic pale pink colour.
We love the lace design and chic colour, making it a brilliant option for a more formal event later in the year.
4. Princess Diana and Fergie’s matching Royal Ascot ensembles
The world may now be fascinated by the Duchess of Cambridge, but years ago, Princess Diana and Sarah Ferguson were the talk of the royal circle.
The pair, who were known to be very close, made a brilliant style statement at Royal Ascot one year, in matching red ensembles that wouldn’t look out of place today!
We especially love the matching wide brim hats!
5. And, their hilarious umbrella antics
The pair also didn’t let the pomp and circumstance of Ascot dampen their fun in their first year at the event together following Sarah’s marriage to Prince Andrew.
In this brilliant picture, Diana and Fergie can be seen poking the bottom of Fergie’s old school friend Lulu with their umbrellas!
6. Princess Beatrice and Eugenie’s excitement during one Royal Ascot race
In the Royal Box, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were seen one year shouting, jumping up and down, and cheering for their horse.
The sisters were clearly celebrating some success!
7. The Queen’s clear love of Royal Ascot
Much of the Queen’s work throughout the year is for serious, important causes, so Royal Ascot often means that the hard-working monarch gets time to enjoy and indulge in her passion for horses and racing.
In numerous photos every year, she can be seen grinning from ear-to-ear – whether she’s handing awards to jockeys, watching the races, or chatting to her family members.
Here’s hoping we get to see the royals at Ascot next year!