Royal Ascot: A Revelry of Traditions

Before racing begins each day, they arrive in horse-drawn carriages in a processional down the center of the racecourse. It is during this pomp and circumstance that one of the most popular bets of the day is paid out: What color is the queen’s hat?


In 1962, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip arrived at the Royal Ascot. The queen has been a regular throughout her reign, and has even had horses of her own compete in the races.

Associated Press

The tradition of the Royal Procession began in 1825, when King George IV led four other coaches in front of the crowds. Riding in one of the accompanying coaches remains a high honor.

But Queen Elizabeth II is not just there to fulfill a tradition. Last year her horse Dartmouth won the Hardwicke Stakes, her first victory at Royal Ascot since 2013, when her filly Estimate won the Gold Cup.


The dress code at Royal Ascot is just as famous as many of the horses who have competed there. How strictly visitors have to follow the rules is dictated by their ticket.

Royal Ascot features enclosures, and each one comes with its own set of rules. Not surprisingly, the Royal Enclosure is both the hardest to gain access to and the swankiest. It is there that quintessential Royal Ascot outfits, complete with fancy chapeaux for the women and top hats for the men, are found.

Other traditional areas include the Queen Anne Enclosure and Windsor Enclosure, and this meet marks the first time in 100 years that a new area — the Village Enclosure — has been added.

Ascot spells out the dress code on its website. Formal attire is “encouraged” in the Queen Anne and Village Enclosures, while in the Windsor Enclosure, racegoers are expected to wear “smart clothes.”


Sprays of flowers gambol around ladies’ hats at the Royal Enclosure.

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