What is Royal Ascot?

Royal Ascot is the five-day race meeting held each June at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire. Queen Anne founded the racecourse in 1711 ‘for horses to gallop at full stretch’. But it wasn’t until two hundred years later that Ascot’s summer race meeting officially became a Royal week. Beginning with a Royal Procession of carriages each day, it continues to draw enormous crowds of both racing enthusiasts and social butterflies.

When does it take place?

This year, Royal Ascot – pronounced ‘Askut’ rather ‘Ascott’ – starts on Tuesday June 18 and ends on Saturday 22 June.

Who goes?

Anybody with a fondness for the gee-gees, a society event or British summertime revelry can buy a ticket and go. Each year, 300,000 people attend Royal Ascot in its various enclosures. The race meeting is most famous for its Royal Enclosure, which is the most exclusive area and is accessible only to members and their guests.

What will I do when I get there?

Primarily, you will watch the world’s best racehorses compete on one of its finest racecourses. You may even bet on one or two. You’ll also spend a lot of time looking at what people are wearing, drinking champagne and soaking up a fun and festive atmosphere.

What precisely is the dress code at Royal Ascot?

Since the early 19th century and the days of Beau Brummel, the arbiter of men’s fashion, there has been a dress code at Royal Ascot. These days it is more relaxed than it has been historically. Each enclosure has their own rules, which are most strict in the Royal Enclosure. There, women must wear hats and skirts that are no shorter than just above the knee and men must wear morning suits, top hats and socks that cover the ankle.

Why do people love it so?

Ed Chamberlin, who presents ITV’s coverage of Royal Ascot with Francesca Cumani each day, says: ‘No other sport can claim to host five days of such sustained sporting excellence as Royal Ascot. Every day has Group One action and when you add the fashion, pageantry and fun you have a unique, spectacular event, which is a privilege to present.’

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