Packed stands at Royal Ascot but the Queen absent from day one

The Queen hailed Royal Ascot as a “thrilling” experience as racegoers filled the stands for the first time since the pandemic.

Punters are hoping that the monarch, a passionate owner and breeder, will make an appearance this week at the event which is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar.

But their expectations for the first day of the fixture were dashed when it was confirmed the Queen would not be attending.

Her Majesty pictured at Ascot after Estimate's Gold Cup win in 2013
Her Majesty pictured at Ascot after Estimate’s Gold Cup win in 2013 (Tim Ireland/PA)

Writing in the official programme, the Queen said: “After the challenges of recent times, this year’s royal meeting provides a long-awaited opportunity for supporters of racing from all over the world to come together for five days of outstanding sport.

“Once again, it is thrilling that horses from around the globe have travelled to Royal Ascot to compete at the highest level.”

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall will lead the royal party on Tuesday and take part in the traditional carriage procession along the course before racing begins.

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They will be followed by the Princess Royal and minor members of the royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi are attending day one
Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi are attending day one (Aaron Chown/PA)

Princess Beatrice and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, walked through the gates to the course with the other punters and were surrounded by photographers before making their way into an exclusive area.

The Queen has more than 10 horses entered over the five days of the event and, with her Windsor Castle home just a 15-minute drive away, there is still some hope that she will attend during the week.

One-time Derby contender Reach For The Moon is the hot favourite for Thursday’s Hampton Court Stakes, while Saga is well fancied for the Britannia on the same day.

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