As royal watchers well know, June is a banner month for many of the British Royal Family’s biggest annual events. Just 24 hours after members of the House of Windsor convened at St George’s Chapel for the Order of the Garter ceremony, several more descended on Ascot for the annual horse races that will run through the week. The Queen, a keen horsewoman, has only missed this event once since ascending the throne and this year had the added pizzazz of including King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of The Netherlands.
I say this a lot, but I love events that feature members of the BRF actually engaging with one another, and Royal Ascot may actually be the best for this in that the Windsors are quite literally chatting and milling about in the royal enclosure.
We also get a carriage procession, and for this less official engagement, sometimes they mix it up a bit in who sits with who. This year, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall in one carriage, while Willem-Alexander and Maxima joined the Queen and the Duke of York, and the Princess Royal, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, and Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie were spread across two more.
Video from Richard Palmer below:
This year, thanks to the weather, the carriages were covered when they first set off, but the rain backed off enough that they were able to enter the racecourse with the tops down. And once on the enclosure, they intermittently had to seek refuge under umbrellas, which frankly made some of the photos look all the more timeless and slightly vintage.
Unlike Trooping the Colour, we also got to see the Queen’s eldest granddaughter, Zara Tindall. Zara (wearing Zimmermann) is known to be particularly close to William and Kate, as well as the Duke of Sussex, and on more than once occasion Ascot, Easter, and other family events are livened up by her joking around with her cousins.
Today, there was chatter about a particular moment caught between Kate, Zara, and Eugenie that some are taking as indication Eugenie might be pregnant, but as with Kate and Meghan, I don’t think there’s much use in speculating until there’s an actual announcement.
The other plus of Ascot is, of course, the summer fashion on display and the BRF’s women rarely disappoint on this front. This year, they all apparently decided to lean into blues and florals.
Kate is wearing Elie Saab separates (h/t to Kate’s Closet for realizing this wasn’t a dress!), which she paired with a new hat by Philip Treacy. In fact, this was an all new ensemble for the Duchess, and while at first I wasn’t blown away by the idea of another long dress with a large bowed-collar, I’ve warmed up to this, and the fact that it’s a skirt and blouse brought this over the line to a solid win in my book.
And maybe it was hat up against the umbrellas and the historic backdrop, but I was getting very serious Lady Mary Crawley vibes from Kate today.
William and Kate were also in fine form , and there are more than a few great photos of them staring adoringly at each other. Eight years and three kids later, it’s really nothing short of impressive 😉
I’ve not seen definitive ID’s on all of the women’s fashion, but will update as I do. Sophie (the Countess of Wessex) is wearing Emilia Wickstead, a mainstay in her closet. I’ve seen mixed reviews of this look, and so far I’m leaning towards “no.” It’s a bold pattern, and there’s just a little too much of it with the addition of the hat. And the constricting neckline and sleeves seem at odds with the English garden motif.
I do love some of these photos of her with Prince Edward, though:
No idea who Beatrice and Eugenie are wearing, but true to form they were colorful!
Eugenie’s dress featured a splash of yellow in its skirt, which matched her hat (hatband? You decide). You can see it better here:
There’s a surprising dearth of clear, length-view shots of Camilla, but the pale pink coat with white embroidery kind of reminds me of Kate’s blue and white Catherine Walker.
I think it’s fair to say Maxima won the hat game for boldness alone:
All in all, all solid turnout for the BRF. No word as of yet on when we’ll see Kate next. I would imagine new engagements will be announced soonish, assuming the Cambridges don’t take a trip to celebrate the end of the school year with their children. And next month promises at least two big moments – Wimbledon, of course, and rumor has it the Sussexes are planning for Archie’s christening to be held at St George’s Chapel. Details TBD…