Several members of the royal family joined Queen Elizabeth for the first day of the iconic five-day horse race event on Tuesday, including Kate Middleton, Prince William, Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall. Princess Eugenie, Princess Beatrice and Zara Tindall were also in attendance — with blue being the trendy color for the women to wear.
Noticeably missing were Meghan and Prince Harry. While the Duchess of Sussex made her first official post-baby appearance at Trooping the Colour (an important family event) earlier this month, she’s still on maternity leave and is likely at home at Frogmore Cottage in Windsor with son Archie, who was born on May 6.
“Meghan is on maternity leave, but Trooping is a family occasion,” a source recently told PEOPLE. “You don’t skip the Queen’s birthday. She’s the Queen!”
While Meghan will likely take a three-to-five month maternity leave, with possible public appearances sprinkled in earlier, Harry has not taken paternity leave. He’s continued to make public appearances, including trips to Rome for a charity polo match and to the Netherlands to kick off the countdown to the 2020 Invictus Games.
It’s possible that royal fans will see Prince Harry — dressed to the nines in a suit and top hat — attend the Royal Ascot without his wife later this week.
For her Royal Ascot debut last year, Meghan wore an elegant white ensemble by Givenchy (her wedding dress designer!) with a matching white hat with black detailing by Philip Treacy.
After their carriage ride, Prince Charles and Camilla joined the couple for an animated chat. Charles laughed heartily with his new daughter-in-law, before they joined the Queen in the royal box just in time to watch the first race.
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Royal Ascot came to be soon after 1711, when Queen Anne rode out from Windsor Castle to the field where the race now takes place, and said, “This would be a fine place for a race,” according to Slot. The first event was held later that year, and has continued since.
And a tradition that’s almost as longstanding as the race itself is the royal procession — it was introduced in 1825 by King George IV. The procession sees Queen Elizabeth and her guests make their entrance to Ascot in a number of Landau carriages every day at precisely 2 o’clock.
The Queen’s carriage leads the procession, with others following behind. Only invited guests of the Queen are granted seats in the carriages. It’s a formula that works: The royal procession “doesn’t change year to year,” Slot says. “It’s exactly the same.”