Yesterday marked the first day of the annual Royal Ascot – one of the highlights of the royal family’s summer calendar.
After last year’s event was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, members of the Firm turned out in force yesterday as the five-day meet got underway.
Prince Charles and Camilla were joined by Prince Edward, Sophie Wessex, Princess Anne, her daughter Zara Tindall and husband Mike.
The exciting event is bound to be a source of light relief for senior members of the royal family – who have been busy at royal engagements since the passing of Prince Philip.
And whilst members of the monarchy were among guests in the Royal Box, the Queen was absent from the proceedings.
Royal sources claim she was not able to devote her full attention to the racing yesterday as she welcomed Scott Morrison, the Australian prime minister, to Windsor Castle.
It has been a demanding few days for the Queen, who was dispatched to Cornwall for the G7 summit before returning to Windsor for Trooping the Colour and to meet Joe and Jill Biden over the weekend.
But the Queen’s racing manager John Warren has said the monarch is hoping to attend the event later in the week.
He told Radio 4 yesterday (Tuesday, June 15): “The plan at the moment is to see how it goes towards the latter part of the week and if the Queen’s able to come because she’s got runners.
“Then, fingers crossed, it will happen.”
He added that horse racing offers “very broad escapism” for the Queen, who is “fanatic” about the sport.
The Queen always has several horses running at the Royal Ascot, and on Tuesday her horse Kings Lynn competed in the King’s Stand Stakes.
It would have been a big day for Her Majesty, who hosts a luncheon at Windsor Castle for guests before taking part in the traditional carriage procession from the castle to the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot.
Instead it was her son Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex, along with Princess Anne and Mike and Zara Tindall, who led the way in the royal stakes.
Royal Ascot runs from Tuesday, June 15 to Saturday, June 19 and will be broadcast daily on ITV