Celebrities, punters, and the usual guard of Britain’s upper crust have dusted down their tails and practised how to conceal their giant new hat’s fiddly elastic under their hair — for Royal Ascot 2024 has arrived. 

The five-day affair started with cigar smoke, sunshine and a smile from King Charles on Tuesday, June 18. It was a strong turnout from the royals, with sightings of Queen Camilla, unmissable in a Cobalt blue outfit from Fiona Clare Couture, Princess Anne, wearing a red, embroidered dress coat, Zara Tindall, who opted for a puff-sleeve, lemon Laura Green dress with gold flying-saucer boater, and Princess Eugenie in mint green Diane von Furstenberg.

Joining the fold was Lady Gabriella Kingston four months after the death of her husband Tom Kingston. She arrived, wearing a floral, collared Catherine Walker & Co dress and an on-trend Bottega Veneta clutch, in horse-drawn carriage with the Princess Royal and Peter Phillips, before being greeted with a hug from Tindall in the parade ring. 

The starry hotspot on the first day was the Royal Enclosure’s ‘The Summer House’, where guests — having being dropped off in their Wheelys, this year’s “Official Chauffeur” — mingled over free-flowing Moët. Penny Lancaster, wife of Rod Stewart, certainly made an entrance carrying a parasol made of fresh flowers, and joined the likes of footballer Theo Walcott and rapper Bugzy Malone. 

London fashion designer Daniel W. Fletcher is Royal Ascot’s first creative director this year, and as such filled the garden tables with dapper looking boys who gave the traditional dress code playful twists. “I wanted to take a fresh approach to how people dress at the races. The dress code for Royal Ascot remains unchanged but I wanted to explore what you could do within them to be the most creative,” he said, regarding his style guide for the event. 

“Let's seize the opportunity to be brave.” One of his guests turned heads in a metres-long tailcoat. 

As for the more questionably dressed, Beyoncé’s “cowboycore” appears to have made it to the races, with a handful of attendees pairing country western hats with their gowns or, in one case, a white, fringed suit. This ain’t Texas, ladies. 

Leading arrivals on Tuesday were the Princess of Wales’ parents Carole and Michael Middleton, who made their first public appearance since their daughter's cancer diagnosis. Zara Tindall, in a cotton, printed dress from Anna Mason, arrived with husband Mike for their second day running, but it was Elizabeth Hurley, sporting a £3,900 long-sleeved, white lace and floral embroidered dress and hat which resembled an emptied fruit basket, who ignited the most buzz upon arrival.

The royal procession was lead by Queen Camilla at 2PM, joined by Prince William and Peter Wood, The Earl of Halifax. Completing the jovial pack was Prince Edward, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie and their mother, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.Thursday, day three, was Ladies Day — which translates to some fabulous guests, and a fair few who might have benefitted from following Coco Chanel’s perennial advice: "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off." 

Jerry Hall, former partner of Mick Jagger and Rupert Murdoch, made her entrance in navy blue alongside British fashion designer Rupert Lycett Green. Singer Katherine Jenkins opted for a bright white dress with black, sheer gloves and matching dark hat, while Lady Victoria Hervey opted for statement-making in an ostrich feather ivory gown with hip-high slit.

King Charles resumed normal service after taking day two off, arriving in the carriage with Queen Camilla who also opted for white. They were joined by Princess Anne and Lady Sarah Chatto, as well as Sophie, Duchess of Edinburgh, in a the floral Suzannah London ‘Trixie’ dress, and Zara Tindall, in Rebecca Vallance’s sky blue, puff-sleeve Juliana frock.

On Friday, the penultimate day of Royal Ascot 2024, King Charles opted for a hot pink waistcoat for a splash of colour, while Queen Camilla attracted attention with a turquoise, long-feathered hat which billowed in the breeze. They were joined in their carriage by Lord and Lady Bamford, owners of JCB as well as the Daylesford Organic farm shops.

In the parade ring they were joined by Princess Beatrice, who opted for a green, floral midi dress by London-based, New Zealand fashion designer Emilia Wickstead, as well as recemt Tatler cover star Sophie Winkleman, and her husband Lord Frederick Windsor, who is the only son of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent and 53rd in line to the throne.

The best dressed guests at Royal Ascot

Day five

Day four

Day three

Day two

Day one

Register now for one of the Evening Standard’s newsletters. From a daily news briefing to Homes & Property insights, plus lifestyle, going out, offers and more. For the best stories in your inbox, click here.

2024-06-19T10:25:07Z dg43tfdfdgfd