It should go without saying that the British Royal Family attends many traditional events every year. Some are of the more religious kind, while others are about having fun, keeping the traditions of bygone generations, as well as introducing them to the children.
One such event takes place at Royal Ascot, the legendary racecourse that hosts a special week of horse racing annually. It was founded more than 300 years ago, and still to this day, the royals make appearances, dressing up in fabulous outfits that most always include extraordinary hats.
While Kate Middleton has always been keen to avoid horses in the past – for one, specific reason – she usually takes in Royal Ascot from the royal box. King Charles and Queen Camilla were brought to tears this year after a horse bred by the late Queen Elizabeth II won. Yet for royal fans, that wasn’t the week’s biggest story.
No, it appears Kate Middleton’s bold outfit was the talk of the town at the weekend, and not exactly for the right reasons…
Just weeks ago, the Royal Family appeared on the Buckingham Palace balcony to celebrate Trooping the Colour. The historical event – celebrating the sovereign’s ‘birthday’ – was a huge success, with royals and gathered fans of the monarchy taking part in a big parade and a traditional flyby.
Now, the Trooping the Colour event isn’t really an occasion for the royals to let loose and relax. Last week, though, another event gave them a bit of a well-deserved break, as well as the chance to continue one of the most classic royal traditions.
The Royal Ascot
The Royal Ascot includes a whole week of horse racing, and the royals turned out in force. King Charles, Queen Camilla, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and several other senior royals enjoyed the many days of racing at the legendary racecourse.
For people outside of the UK, the Royal Ascot might be an unfamiliar concept. So let’s take a look at what it really is.
The Ascot Racecourse is located in Ascot, Berkshire, west of Greater London. It was founded by Queen Anne in 1711, and has, as described on the Royal.UK website: “Received the support of a further twelve monarchs.” The annual Ascot race meetings officially became a royal week in 1911, and ever since then, Royal Family members have enjoyed themselves by watching races that often include horses they themselves have bred.
The Royal Ascot is held every year in June. King Charles and Queen Camilla have been interested in horses for many years, and it’s not so strange that horses have always been present in their lives. The now-late Queen Elizabeth II had a huge passion for horses, only missing the Ascot races once.
That occurred last year, as she was not feeling well and so was forced to watch proceedings from her home in Windsor.
The Royal Ascot festival had become synonymous with the late Queen. In total, she had 24 Royal Ascot winners, and always presented the trophy to the winner of the Gold Cup at the Royal Ascot.
In 2013, she was even unable to hand out the trophy. Why? Well, because she was the winner!
The strict dress code of the Royal Ascot
Her horse Estimate rallied to win the legendary race, making her the first reigning monarch to achieve glory in the race’s 207-year history.
Over five days, around 300,000 visitors attended the famous race meeting. Besides the presence of the royals, one of the most iconic things about Ascot is the exceptional dress code, including the very finest clothing and extraordinary hats. The strict dress code also applies to the Royal Family – and this year was no different. Kate Middleton was seen wearing a stunning outfit, though one detail left royal fans confused. But more on that in a moment.
Suffice it to say that the Ascot experience wouldn’t be the same without the unique outfits. The Ascot includes four so-called “enclosures” from which to take in the races; The Royal Enclosure, The Queen Anne Enclosure, The Village Enclosure, and The Windsor Enclosure. The dress code is different in each enclosure, and every year, Royal Ascot puts out an annual style guide to help explain the rules. Gentleman’s Journal describes the male dress code as follows:
“Dressing to impress. The Royal Enclosure is the gold standard here; offering modern men that oh-so rare opportunity to wear a top hat and morning suit.”
Different dress codes for different enclosures
It continues: “Elsewhere, the Queen Anne Enclosure dictates men wear their sharpest suits, complete with a shirt and tie (no cravats or bow ties). In all other enclosures, including the Windsor Enclosure, there is no must-follow dress code — but you must still avoid wearing anything branded, any replica sports clothing, fancy dress, or anything novelty.”
For women, the Royal Ascot style guide is slightly more flexible. However, there are still expectations to meet to gain entry to the different enclosures.
In the Royal Enclosure, women must wear dresses or skirts which should fall just above the knee or longer, and lace and chiffon fabrics are permitted. Moreover, a hat must be worn, but a headpiece with a minimum of 4 inches is also acceptable.
For the Queen Anne Enclosure – named after the course founder – women must wear a dress or top and skirt with shoulder or halter neck straps (lace and chiffon fabrics are permitted, with no minimum length). Moreover, one must wear a hat, headpiece, or fascinator.
In the Village Enclosure, the dress code includes a dress or top and skirt with shoulder or halter neck straps. For the Queen Anne Enclosure, lace and chiffon fabrics are permitted without a minimum length. Moreover, trouser suits are OK, but should always be of matching material and color.
Royal family in attendance at the legendary racecourse
The only enclosure which doesn’t have a specific dress code is the Windsor Enclosure. The Royal Ascot’s website states: “Whilst there is no official Dress Code for the Windsor Enclosure, ladies and gentlemen are encouraged to dress in smart daywear.”
Each day of the Royal Ascot week begins with the Royal Procession. The King, The Queen, and accompanying members of the Royal Family arrive along the racing track in horse-drawn landaus, greeting the thousands of spectators. They always watch the races from the Royal Enclosure, and this year, as every year, there were plenty of Royal Family members in attendance.
Prince William and Kate Middleton arrived at the races in the second carriage of the royal procession behind King Charles and Queen Camilla. The king and queen were accompanied by the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire in their carriage, while the Prince and Princess of Wales were accompanied by Princess Beatrice and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi.
Moreover, Sophie, the Duchess of Edinburgh – King Charles’ sister-in-law – and the king’s cousins, Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, also arrived in the procession. They were accompanied by their good friend and movie star Dame Judi Dench.
Princess Kate Royal Ascot outfit
Royal outfits always make headlines for all different reasons. But when it came to Royal Ascot, Kate Middleton left royal fans pondering her outfit, with one detail even branded “cheap.”
Kate arrived at Ascot wearing a vivid, beautiful red Alexander McQueen dress. The same fashion house was responsible for her 2011 wedding dress.
Accompanying the dress, the Princess of Wales appeared in a gorgeous hat designed by one of the Royal Family’s favorite milliners, Philip Treacy. Moreover, she wore a pair of Jennifer Chamandi Lorenzo 105 Red Suede Pumps, as well as a vintage Hermes Rio Red Leather Clutch, according to Express.
Kate Middleton’s been a part of the Royal Family for over a decade now and appeared many times beside the late Queen Elizabeth II. Indeed, it seems that her decision to wear a block color was a trick used by the Queen for many years, as it made her instantly recognizable among the thousands of attendees at the races.
“The Princess of Wales seems to be employing one of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s sartorial tricks, wearing head-to-toe bold colors in order to be seen more easily,” royal fashion expert Christine Ross told Newsweek.
“By wearing bright colors, even the furthest seats can say they caught a glimpse of the Princess of Wales. This was a powerful tool used by Queen Elizabeth II, and this shows that both women know the power of their fashion choices.”
Princess Kate slammed for “cheap” and “awful” earrings
And Kate’s “nod” towards a late Royal Family member wasn’t the only one in her outfit. The Princess also wore gold and brass earrings from the mid-range fashion brand Sezane, which belonged to Princess Diana.
While royal fans loved Kate Middleton’s dress and shoes, some had less favorable things to say about her earrings and clutch bag.
As reported by Express, many fans disliked the Princess’ choice of earrings and a clutch bag, arguing that the “costume-style” earrings didn’t fit in despite the look being “finished” and “polished.”
“The earrings ruin it for me. There is a time and place for costume jewelry and this is not it,” one person wrote on social media, as quoted by Express.
“Love the dress, hat, and shoes. Kate looks stunning! I feel the earrings don’t work with the style of everything else. They look like cheap fun casual lunch earrings,” another said.
A third commented: “She is gorgeous in red! But…The clutch is pure Disappointment.”
A fourth person suggested Kate use another pair of earrings instead.
“The earrings are awful! She has a lovely modern ruby set she wore in Poland that would have been perfect for this look. The hat and hair are fabulous! POW always looks beautiful.”
We sure hope that Kate Middleton, her husband, and the rest of the Royal Family had a great day. Interestingly, as reported by Hello Magazine, Kate has previously been allergic to horses.
Princess Kate was treated for her horse allergy
Clarrisa Ru, the wife of Santa Barbara Polo Club president Wesley Ru, said that Kate has been working on overcoming her allergy through exposure, also known as immunotherapy.
“I got a chance to have a conversation with Kate, I asked if she was into polo before she met William. She said no,” Ru said according to Hello. “But she’s been riding horses for a while and she hopes to play polo one day. She said ‘I’m actually allergic to them, but the more time one spends with them the less allergic you become.’”
According to Anaphylaxis UK, allergy immunotherapy is “a medical treatment for allergies. The idea is that a patient’s immune system can be ‘trained’ to tolerate the allergen and therefore not cause allergic symptoms.”
Many may attend Ascot for horse racing, but the event is also a massive social gathering.
According to Town and Country, attendees consume around 56,000 bottles of champagne, 44,000 bottles of wine, 21,000 jugs of Pimms, and 60,000 finger sandwiches over five days. Moreover, 80,000 cups of tea and 128,500 bottles of mineral water are consumed.
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