The very best royal family moments from Royal Ascot through the years - as the 'closed doors' race meeting kicks off today

The royal family won't be attending this year.

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.

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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.

MORE:The Queen thanks supporters for their birthday well-wishes in new letter

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!

(Image credit: Getty Images)

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?

Buy it here for £75.

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.

(Image credit: WireImage)

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!

Buy it here for £98.

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...

(Image credit: Chris Jackson)

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.

Buy it now for £243.

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!

Fergie and Diana at royal ascot

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!

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(Image credit: The LIFE Images Collection via G)

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!

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(Image credit: Getty Images)

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.

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(Image credit: AFP via Getty Images)

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(Image credit: Getty Images for Ascot)

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Here's hoping we get to see the royals at Ascot next year!

Amy Hunt
Amy Hunt

Amy Hunt is Life Channel Editor at womanandhome.com, having been with the brand since 2015. She began as the magazine's features assistant before moving over to digital as a News and Features Writer, before becoming Senior Writer, and now a Channel Editor. She has worked on either women's lifestyle websites previously too—including Woman's Weekly, Goodto.com, Woman, and Woman's Own. In 2019, Amy won the Digital Journalist of the Year award at the AOP Awards, for her work on womanandhome.com. She is passionate about everything from books, to homes, to food and the latest news on the royal family. When she isn't editing or updating articles on cleaning, homewares, the newest home gadgets, or the latest books releases for the website, she's busy burying her nose in a gripping thriller, practising yoga, or buying new homeware of her own.