Royal News

Queen misses key event in royal calendar for the first time in 68-year reign

The five-day racing event which starts today is taking place behind closed doors this year. The Queen, 94, will watch it on television at Windsor Castle, where she is spending the lockdown.

More than 300,000 guests usually gather for the race meeting in Berkshire.

But this year will be very different with no royal carriage procession, no trophy presentations and no spectators, in line with Government guidelines brought in when racing resumed earlier this month.

The Queen will follow the event on television and she has a number of runners.

First Receiver will feature in the 1.50 Ascot Hampton Court Stakes on Wednesday.

The Queen also has Tactical riding in the 4.10 Ascot Windsor Castle Stakes later that day.

And she is hoping her horse Punctuation will run in the 4.10 Ascot Queen's Vase on Friday.

As an owner, the Queen will be able to view her horses from a virtual parade ring set up due to the coronavirus restrictions.

The new online Racing Hub features real time weather data and a live 360 degree parade ring camera feed.

Nick Smith, director of racing and public affairs at Ascot, said: "Whilst the ultimate experience of being at Royal Ascot sadly isn't possible this year, we hope that what we are planning will make ownership at home as special as possible.

"We are particularly pleased to be able to provide owners with a feed to the Parade Ring, and to be housing all the data that all horsemen need from real time weather and going reports to post race sectionals in one, convenient place."

Only a jockey, groom and trainer or their representative are allowed per horse at the racecourse.

The Queen, who breeds racehorses, attends Royal Ascot every year.

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The event was postponed in 1955 because of the national rail strike but it went ahead in July and the Queen still attended with her sister Princess Margaret.

In 2017 she had to rush from the State Opening of Parliament to Ascot when her speech in the House of Lords fell on the second day of the meeting.

The Queen has been staying at Windsor Castle since March with Prince Philip, 99, and a reduced household of around 20 staff.

On Saturday she celebrated her official birthday with a socially-distanced military ceremony after Trooping the Colour was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The Queen recently appeared in her first ever official video conference call as part of her public royal duties.

She has also made two televised addresses to the nation since the lockdown started.

The 94-year-old is still holding her weekly audience with the Prime Minister by telephone and receiving her daily red boxes of Government papers.

Buckingham Palace previously said: "The Queen continues to be busy and will follow appropriate advice on engagements."

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