My FIRST Royal Ascot
“Come on Dover! Move yer bloomin’ arse!”
This may sound familiar to some of you – it is after all the famous line from Eliza Doolittle of Oscar-winning My Fair Lady, who broke the code of conduct with her expletive language at Britain’s glamorous horse racing event. Watch one of the movie clips here.
Dressed in a long lacy dress with a wide brimmed posh hat and matching umbrella, Eliza, played by Audrey Hepburn, caused a scandal with her outburst, resulting in horrified looks from aristocrats and even causing one to faint from shock!
Sounds over-the-top? This famous scene from the Royal Ascot shows that there is a strict protocol to the high society’s historic social playground, and it still is today!
The Royal Ascot is a 300 year-old highlight of Britain’s social calender, celebrating some of the country’s most thoroughbred horses, keeping up with the famous British eccentricities and commemorating British fashion at its finest.
Having spent 7 years in London, I thought it was about time that I went to the country’s biggest and most posh event. At the end of the day, what better way for me to display the British manners I have acquired!
THE Ladies Day
And so I bought my ticket for the Royal Ascot Ladies’ Day, anticipating a lot of pomp and pageantry. I was not disappointed. The prestigious Gold Cup event, held on Ladies’ Day, requires women to wear a hat that covers the ‘crown of their head.’ It is a day described by a poet as when ‘women, like angels, look sweetly divine.’
As I got off the train, the atmosphere was charged with excitement and anticipation. I was greeted by thousands of women parading in their bright coloured frocks, skyscraper heels and look-at-me hats. Men, or shall I say gentlemen, were well-scrubbed up and looked elegant in their top hats and morning suits, whilst some spotted impressively formed moustaches!
The grounds looked magnificent and the event kicked off with a bang when the Queen arrived in an open-topped carriage. In the midst of the horse racing event, punters were drawn into an excitable frenzy, rooting for the horses that they have put their money on. On the other hand, many were there to see and to be seen! Ladies walked around eyeing up each other’s outfits, striking conversations with socialites and merely enjoying a day out.
Highlights of the day
One of the highlights of the day was watching the Queen smile for a good 15 minutes, probably the first I have seen during my time here. The Queen’s reaction to her Gold Cup win was the talk of the country because that was one of the rarest occasions when she broke away from her regal sobriety and let her hair down!
Another favourite of mine was when we headed into the Grandstand for some traditional singing around the Bandstand. Thousands waved the British flag to a string of traditional British medleys. There was a strong sense of camaraderie and patriotism as people joined in singing God Save the Queen, Hey Jude, Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Brittania, Auld Lang Syne and You’ll Never Walk Alone.
Both men and women went to great lengths to look grand. It is in fact one of the best days to soak up British fashion. It is a fashion haven for every fashionista. Many fashion designers take this opportunity to showcase their latest collections as they get free publicity for outrageous outfits and ideas.
There were women who colour-coordinated their outfits from head to toe. Some designed and wore lavish hats. Others displayed their love for the country in traditional costumes.
Another thing that caught my eye were plastic heel protectors! They are little plastic stubs fixed on women’s high-heeled shoes to avoid damaging the heels or worse, sinking into the grass.
British and fashion – a deliriously intoxicating concoction
There is so much creativity and innovative ideas at the Royal Ascot that this event is more than just horse racing. It is a day to celebrate being British, a day to make new friends, a chance to express yourselves and a great opportunity to turn the grounds into your very own catwalk!
Check out some of Britain's finest fashion below.
If you love the Royal Ascot, why not study in the UK or find out more about fashion and textile courses in the UK. Who knows, you might be the next fashion designer displaying your ingenious creations!
An aspiring journalist with a passion for investigative journalistic work. Also a self-declared masterchef.