Sunday, 13 Jun 2021

Queen to scale back Royal Ascot visits next week as every day attendance ‘inappropriate’

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Both horses are trained by Andrew Balding and have been entered to compete on either Tuesday or Saturday. The Queen will have to decide by Sunday lunchtime if she wants them to run on Tuesday. Last year the 95-year-old monarch missed the royal race meeting, which offers the finest flat racing in the world, for the first time in her reign because of Covid restrictions. Royal sources have said she will attend this year but only when she has runners.

She is understood to feel it is inappropriate to go every day when continuing restrictions mean the crowd is limited to 12,000 instead of anything up to 70,000 normally.

Last Saturday she decided to stay away from the Derby at Epsom, one of her favourite days in the whole year, because Covid restrictions meant it was not the normal event.

A lifelong enthusiast for flat racing and indeed anything equine, the Queen traditionally presents the Gold Cup on Ladies Day on the Thursday of Royal Ascot but is not expected to do so this year.

Other royals are expected to be at the five-day meeting between June 15 and 19 but there will be no royal carriage procession down the racecourse, there will have to be social distancing if the royal box is used, and the family’s attendance is expected to be more limited than usual.

The Queen will watch the rest of the races on television at Windsor Castle when she is not at the course. Normally, she would host big parties at the castle during the week but Covid restrictions mean it will be much more low-key this year.

Her love of Ascot remains undiminished, however. Nick Smith, the Ascot spokesman, said: “Her Majesty’s love of racing is well known and we are fortunate that she regularly visits Ascot, especially for the royal meeting. She takes a very keen interest in Ascot matters.

“She named the new Kensington Palace Stakes this year, writes the welcome in the Royal Ascot racecards and, last month, paid a private visit to see some ongoing projects including the new stables development. This is an unusual year and we are all looking forward to Royal Ascot in the Platinum Jubilee year.”

The race authorities have changed the dress code this year, allowing navy blue morning suits into the Royal Enclosure for the first time, in addition to the usual black or grey outfits.

Mr Smith, explaining the approval of blue morning suits, said: “They have become very fashionable at weddings and other events and they look very stylish.”

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