As part of this year’s Royal Ascot At Home initiative, Ascot is inviting fans across the globe to dress up and wear a hat, before sharing a photo on social media using the campaign hashtags #StyledWithThanks and #RoyalAscot.
Participants are being encouraged to donate £5 to the campaign fundraising page (in aid of four frontline charities), share their outfit photo and tell their friends to do the same, helping to spread the #StyledWithThanks message. Photos posted using the campaign hashtags will be turned into a giant rainbow mosaic image tribute which will become a permanent installation at Ascot Racecourse.
Taken from this year’s Style Guide the following images are designed to inspire and encourage participants to take part in the fun whilst supporting British fashion designers and milliners and of course raising funds for the charities.
Although this is the first time the event has run behind closed doors since 1711, there have been other Ascots which have become ‘the stuff of legend’.
The “Black” Royal Ascots
Queen Victoria died aged 81 on January 22, 1901, bringing her then record 63-year reign to a close. As the nation remained in mourning, Royal Ascot that year was held in a sombre mood with the Royal Stand closed and the racecard featuring a black border. Dressing in black was also the order of the day.
King Edward VII, a great devotee of the turf, himself died on May 6, 1910 at the age of 68. Royal Ascot again saw an overwhelming dominance of black attire. No member of royalty was present, the King’s pavilion had drawn blinds and closed doors, and the occupants of the Royal Enclosure were in black, unrelieved save where ladies wore white flowers or had strings of pearls as the only ornament.
The two World Wars
Royal Ascot was held as normal in 1914. However, it was just nine days after its conclusion on June 28 that Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo, setting in motion the First World War. Royal Ascot would not return until 1919. In the intervening years, the racecourse played host to a number of different functions including an army recruitment office, military hospital, medical supplies depot and a base for the Royal Flying Corps. A cinema for servicemen was opened on the Heath and made available to the public in the evenings.
Similarly, World War II resulted in Royal Ascot being suspended between 1940 and 1945, with the Grandstand providing accommodation for gunners of the Royal Artillery. A Whit Monday card at Ascot was staged on May 21, 1945, with Princess Elizabeth, our future Queen, in attendance.
When Royal Ascot did return in 1946, severe austerity and rationing meant that the dress code switched from morning dress to lounge suits and service dress. The Royal Procession was restricted to Tuesday and Thursday.
Throughout the 1970s, from the Three-Day Week to the Winter of Discontent, strikes were a very regular news item. Racing was not immune, with the bitter Stable Lads Strike taking place over 10 weeks between the April and July of 1975. Although Royal Ascot was spared the ugly scenes that had blighted the Guineas Meeting at Newmarket in May, there was a march by stable lads on the course itself and pickets were in evidence outside the racecourse.
Foot & Mouth
In 2001, the UK experienced its first outbreak of foot and mouth disease since 1967. Guidelines were issued by the then BHB (now BHA) for restarting racing at the start of March. Racing had largely returned to normal by the time of Royal Ascot in June, although disinfection procedures remained in place for those in attendance. The main consequence for racegoers was having to walk over mats which had been soaked with disinfectant as they entered racecourses. Given the abundance of high fashion and high heels at Royal Ascot, this provided photographers with some unusual images!
Great Britain went to the polls on June 7, 2001, with Tony Blair’s Labour securing a second successive victory. The knock-on effect was that the State Opening of Parliament following the election took place on June 20 – day two of Royal Ascot. The carriages and horses used for the Royal Procession were required for the State Opening of Parliament, as well as a rehearsal the preceding day. The result was that the Royal Procession was restricted to just Thursday and Friday. Her Majesty still attended the first two days, arriving at the racecourse by car in time for racing.
Royal Ascot goes North
Ascot Racecourse underwent its £220 million redevelopment between September 2004 and June 2006. An alternative venue had to be found for Royal Ascot in 2005. It was the spectacular northern gem, York Racecourse, that was the beneficiary, with the full five-day programme transferred in its entirety to the Knavesmire.
The Queen and her family attended every day, the Royal Procession began proceedings, and the Royal Enclosure operated as normal. The transfer also brought about a change to York Racecourse, with a round course being incorporated for the first time to accommodate the Ascot Stakes, Gold Cup and Queen Alexandra Stakes. The new round course is used to this day.