The centrepiece of Ascot Racecourse’s year, Royal Ascot is one of Europe’s most famous race meetings, and dates back to 1711 when it was founded by Queen Anne. Every year Royal Ascot is attended by HM Elizabeth II and various members of the British Royal Family, such as the Prince of Wales.
Members of the Royal Family arrive each day in a horse-drawn carriage with the Royal procession taking place at the start of each race day and the raising of the Queen’s Royal Standard. It is a major event in the British social calendar, and press coverage of the attendees and what they are wearing often exceeds coverage of the actual racing.
There are 3 enclosures attended by guests on Royal Ascot week. The Royal Enclosure is the most prestigious of the three enclosures, with recent visits from the Queen and Royal Family members. Access to the royal enclosure is restricted, with high security on the day. First-time applicants must apply to the Royal Enclosure office and gain membership from someone who has attended the enclosure for at least four years. For existing badgeholders, an invitation is sent out by Her Majesty’s Representative to request badges. The badgeholder’s name is written onto the badge and can be used only by that person; the colours of the badges vary each day for one-day applicants. Those in the Royal Enclosure have the options of fine dining and hospitality, and a selection of bars. The dress code is strictly enforced. For women, only a day dress with a hat is acceptable, with rules applying to the length and style of the dress. In addition, women must not show bare midriffs or shoulders. For men, black or grey morning dress with top hat is required.
Over 300,000 people make the annual visit to Berkshire during Royal Ascot week, making this Europe’s best-attended race meeting. There are 16 Group races on offer, with at least one Group One event on each of the five days. The Gold Cup is on Ladies’ Day on Thursdays. The prize money amount to over £3,000,000.