Last week, the biggest event here in the Ascot area–indeed, one of the big calendar events for the entire country–took place. Royal Ascot is a colorful, fascinating, and bizarrely British annual happening. It started as a horse race, but it got bigger.
The royals have always been keen on horses. They’ve always had a lot of acreage in the area of Windsor, so back in the early 18th century, they built a race track within a carriage ride of Windsor.
The track in Ascot has races and other events all year, but none are as famous or formal as the Royal Ascot week. The queen arrives every day in her carriage (belief is that half the trip is in a Range Rover), which crosses the length of the final part of the race track, and then she and her entourage walk up to the royal enclosure. The strict dress code of the royal enclosure has an impact on the entire event. Even the cameramen wear top hat and tails.
The pictures on my web site gallery are from ladies day last year. This is the Thursday event that includes the most outlandish hats and shoes. Royal Ascot is a place to see and be seen.
To be honest, I hardly saw a horse when we spent the day there last year. The people are a lot more interesting than the horses. It brings out the entire spectrum of English society, from the posh to the potted.
Most of the local cabbies try to avoid the event because they want to keep the back of their cars clean. When Royal Ascot is taking place, we follow the lead of our neighbors and stay off the roads.