What It's Really Like Inside the Royal Enclosure at Ascot
You don't have to arrive in a carriage to get the VIP treatment at Royal Ascot!
You don’t have to arrive in a carriage to get the VIP treatment at Royal Ascot!
The five-day horse race is one of the most prestigious events of the year. More than 300,000 people, including the royal family, make the annual visit to Berkshire for the popular outing.
And while there are exciting races to take in, royal watching has become the main event!
Royal Ascot is one of the centerpieces of the royal social calendar – due in part to Queen Elizabeth‘s love of horses and her ever-present status at the festival – and the best way to enjoy it is to be as close to the Queen and the other royals as possible.
“It’s the ultimate luxury Ascot experience,” a regular attendee tells PEOPLE of the elite royal enclosure. “You’re rubbing shoulders with the aristocracy and the elite racing community. Most people in the enclosure are knowledgeable about horses.
“And of course you can get a great sense of the occasion that the Queen experiences.”
The elegant event doesn’t come without a set of rules, including a strict dress code.
According to the official site, the dress code is as follows for the ladies:
- Dresses and skirts should be of modest length defined as falling just above the knee or longer.
- Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater.
- Jackets and pashminas may be worn but dresses and tops underneath should still comply with the Royal Enclosure dress code.
- Trouser suits are welcome. They should be of full length and of matching material and color.
- Hats should be worn; however a headpiece which has a solid base of 4 inches (10cm) or more in diameter is acceptable as an alternative to a hat.
- Gentlemen are “kindly reminded” to wear either black or grey tailcoat, known as morning dress, which must include: • A waistcoat and tie (no cravats)
- A black or grey top hat
- Black shoes Men are permitted to remove their top hats within a restaurant, a private box, a private club or that facility’s terrace, balcony or garden. But there are no rules against throwing them in the air if a horse they bet on comes in first!
Decorating top hats with colored ribbons or bands is not permitted, however, the beautifully-styled name tags add a dash of color each day. Tuesday’s name tag was pale pink.
Another must-have accessory is a pair of binoculars, so you can at least pretend to be watching the race up close! And hanging them around your neck leaves hands free for champagne sipping. Around 51,000 bottles will are expected to be popped open at the course this week.
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Being in the enclosure also gets you slightly more elbowroom at the bars and a great view of the finishing line.
That’s not something the Queen and her party needs to worry about, however. After talking about the horses with her racing manager John Warren, who runs the bloodstock from the stud at Highclere (where Downton Abbey filmed), she heads to her box, located in the main grandstand.
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As she makes her way to her viewing area, even the poshest of people get out their phones to capture her every move amid a buzz of excitable chatter and cheers.
Surrounded by family and close friends she’s invited, the Queen has all she needs there. Sometimes family members, like equestrian Zara Tindall might be in a different box and venture out or move between the enclosures while socializing. Phillips, who displayed a curiously low curtsy to her grandmother on Tuesday, also signed autographs for fans.