LONDON (UKTN) — Extravagant, gravity-defying or just plain wacky feathers: there are hats, then there are Royal Ascot hats.
Every June, members of the British royal family, aristocrats and thousands of elegant guests don their finest headgear for Royal Ascot, a glamorous annual horse race that dates back to 1711, when Queen Anne founded Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire, southern England.
The week-long bargain is Britain’s most popular race meeting, with some 300,000 visitors attending over five days. It’s the place to see and be seen, and photographers are spoiled for choice each year with a parade of women’s stunning hats and dresses and top hats and tails- formal de-pies for men.
Queen Elizabeth II, a horse enthusiast and owner and breeder of many horses, did not attend the event this year – it would be the first time the 96-year-old monarch has missed Ascot in 70 years. Instead, Prince Charles and Camilla, Prince William and Kate and other senior royals took their places in the traditional carriage procession.
This year’s Ascot coincided with a mini heat wave that bathed Britain and parts of Europe in scorching sunshine, with temperatures reaching nearly 33 degrees Celsius on Friday, the hottest day of the year so far in the UK. The horses were given fans and buckets of ice water. poured over them, while guests were told Ascot’s famously strict dress code was relaxed for thermal safety.
Men were allowed to remove their jackets, ties and top hats – but only in the afternoon, after the traditional carriage procession of the royals had ended.
The long days of sunshine, bets and flowing booze proved too much for some guests, who were photographed kicking off their stilettos and lying on the lawn, next to empty pitchers of Pimms and bottles of Champagne.