Queen misses Royal Ascot for first time in her 68-year reign

Rebecca Taylor
Royal Correspondent
The Queen is missing Ascot this year for the first time in her 68-year reign. (Getty Images)

The Queen will miss out on attending Royal Ascot in person for the first time in her 68-year reign.

Her Majesty is reported to be planning to watch the racing from home at Windsor Castle, but she will not be able to attend, as the meet goes ahead behind closed doors.

Large gatherings are still banned but horse racing resumed in time for one of the Queen’s favourite events.

The Queen and other members of her family usually join about 300,000 racing fans for the five-day sporting event in Berkshire.

But 2020’s event will have no monarch, no royal carriage procession, no trophy presentations and no spectators.

Despite not being able to attend, the Queen will have a keen eye on the races as she has a number of runners, some of which have already done well since racing returned.

The Queen on day four of Royal Ascot in 2019. (Getty Images)
Peter Phillips and Autumn Phillips with the Queen and John Warren at Royal Ascot 2019. (Getty Images)

Read more: Queen granted permission to repair Buckingham Palace roof - 200 years after leak spotted

First Receiver, ridden by Frankie Dettori in the Queen’s racing colours, will feature in the 1.50 Ascot Hampton Court Stakes on Wednesday. First Receiver won at Kempton on 2 June.

Later on Wednesday, she also has Tactical riding in the 4.10 Ascot Windsor Castle Stakes.

And on Friday, she’ll be watching as her horse Punctuation runs in the 4.10 Ascot Queen’s Vase.

The Queen has won about £7 million in the last 30 years at Royal Ascot.

As it adapts to the coronavirus world, Royal Ascot has given owners access to a virtual parade ring, so the Queen will be able to check in on her horses with 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.”

The Queen presents jockey Frankie Dettori with his prize after he rode Stradivarius to victory in the Gold Cup in 2019. (Getty Images)
Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret, far right, walking into the paddock at the Royal Ascot race meeting in 1955. (PA Images)

Read more: Queen makes her first video call as she tells carers 'I'm very impressed'

The Queen is known to be a horse lover, and recently revealed her favourite horses from over the years in a special edition of Horse and Hound.

She’s passed on the love too, with her daughter Anne and granddaughter Zara both keen equestrians.

Despite two occasions when it was close, the Queen managed to attend Royal Ascot. In 1955, it was postponed until July because of the national rail strike – but she still made it.

Trooping the Colour was cancelled in that year.

And in 2017 she had to make a dash for Ascot racecourse from the House of Lords where she was attending the State Opening of Parliament.

Owing to the lack of crowds this year, the usually strict dress code of Royal Ascot has been relaxed, with those who are attending in person asked to dress smartly.