How the royals have nailed dressing for Royal Ascot over the years, in pictures

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·8 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
princesses eugenie and beatrice ascot style  - Getty 
princesses eugenie and beatrice ascot style - Getty

Royal Ascot kicks off on Tuesday, with 12,000 guests attending on each of the five days of the event. Of course we can look forward to some royal appearances, as the royals have been attending the races for decades. From Princesses Margaret and Diana to the young Duchesses and the Queen, the royals make Royal Ascot one of the most fabulous fashion events of the year.

Dressing for a public event with a notoriously strict dress code is no mean feat, but the royals nail it with aplomb. From large fascinators and sculptural hats, to pretty midi dresses and chic separates, they serve as stylish inspiration for what to wear.

As we prepare for Royal Ascot 2021, take a trip down memory lane with us and look back at all the fabulous looks the royals have spotted to the historical event over the years...

Best Royal Ascot looks

Princess Anne in a thrifty look, 2015

Princess Anne ascot - REX
Princess Anne ascot - REX

Princess Anne displayed her thrifty wardrobe approach by re-wearing an outfit first seen in public in 1980 for Royal Ascot in 2015. It consisted of a golden dress coat, which she paired with sleek black pumps and a statement hat.

Queen Elizabeth II in lime, 2018

Queen Elizabeth II attends Royal Ascot Day 4 - Mark Cuthbert
Queen Elizabeth II attends Royal Ascot Day 4 - Mark Cuthbert

Renowned for her love of bright hues, Queen Elizabeth II wore a vivid lime green coat with a matching floral dress and hat to the races in 2018, wearing it with her go-to top handle bag and pumps.

The Countess of Wessex in a maxi dress, 2018

Sophie, Countess of Wessex attends Royal Ascot Day 3 at Ascot Racecourse - Karwai Tang 
Sophie, Countess of Wessex attends Royal Ascot Day 3 at Ascot Racecourse - Karwai Tang

For day three of the 2018 races, Sophie, Countess of Wessex, sported a long lilac dress with a matching hat covered in feathers, making the case for longer lengths over the ubiquitous midi dress.

Diana, Princess of Wales in polka dots, 1988

Diana, Princess of Wales attends The Royal Ascot - Julian Parker
Diana, Princess of Wales attends The Royal Ascot - Julian Parker

In a wonderfully printed look, Princess Diana opted for a coordinating polka dot hat and outfit. The late Princess regularly sported bold prints within her formal looks.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in ivory lace, 2016

The Duchess of Cambridge attends Royal Ascot with the Duke of Cambridge - Eddie Mulholland 
The Duchess of Cambridge attends Royal Ascot with the Duke of Cambridge - Eddie Mulholland

For her first ever appearance at Royal Ascot back in 2016, the Duchess of Cambridge opted for a long-sleeved lace dress by luxury fashion house, Dolce and Gabbana, She teamed it with a sculptural hat by Jane Taylor in the same hue.

Princess Eugenie in graphic prints, 2016

Princess Eugenie attends day 5 of Royal Ascot at Ascot - Mark Cuthbert 
Princess Eugenie attends day 5 of Royal Ascot at Ascot - Mark Cuthbert

Making the case for graphic prints over florals and stripes, Princess Eugenie paired a vibrant floral skirt with a black jumper, a white flat collar shirt and a black fascinator with an assortment of pearls for 2016's races.

Princess Magaret and the Queen Mother in textured hats, 1969

Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) and the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002) arriving for the fourth day - George W. Hales 
Princess Margaret (1930 - 2002) and the Queen Mother (1900 - 2002) arriving for the fourth day - George W. Hales

Both Princess Margaret and the Queen Mother opted for statement bold hats for the 1969 races. The Queen Mother's frothy powder blue hat nicely matched her smart dress code, while Princess Margaret's floral number had an almost halo-like effect.

Zara Tindall in leopard print, 2007

Zara Phillips Attends Ladies Day At The 2007 Royal Ascot - Mark Cuthbert
Zara Phillips Attends Ladies Day At The 2007 Royal Ascot - Mark Cuthbert

A statement hat is sometimes all it takes to lift an otherwise simple Ascot look. Take Zara Tindall as inspiration: she attended Ladies Day in 2007 in a statement leopard print hat and a fitted black trench coat.

The Duchess of Cornwall in spearmint, 2015

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in the parade ring on day 1 of Royal Ascot - Getty
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in the parade ring on day 1 of Royal Ascot - Getty

The Duchess of Cornwall wore a mint green ensemble accompanied by a matching hat with sharply up-swept brim and straw twists to the races in 2015.

The Queen Mother Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in 1967

The Queen Mother Elizabeth (R) and Princess Margaret - Getty 
The Queen Mother Elizabeth (R) and Princess Margaret - Getty

The Queen Mother and Princess Margaret cut classically stylish figures for Royal Ascot in 1967, with timeless pearls, polka dots, diamonds, tweed and tulle trim all present in their outfits.

Princess Beatrice in summery shades, 2015

Princess Beatrice attends day 1 of Royal Ascot - WireImage 
Princess Beatrice attends day 1 of Royal Ascot - WireImage

With Royal Ascot taking place in June, it's a lovely opportunity to don some colourful hues, as Princess Beatrice did in 2015. For day one of the races, she opted for an aqua blouse and a graphic turquoise full skirt.

Princess Diana in muted grey, 1988

The Princess of Wales - Getty 
The Princess of Wales - Getty

For a day at Royal Ascot in 1988, Princess Diana wore a stylish grey jacket by Catherine Walker, with a hat designed by Philip Somerville. Her accessories nicely coordinated and she kept jewellery to a minimum which made for a stylish look.

Princess Beatrice in peach and cream, 2004

Princess Beatrice of York is seen about to present the Ribblesdale Stakes trophy during day three of Royal Ascot - Getty
Princess Beatrice of York is seen about to present the Ribblesdale Stakes trophy during day three of Royal Ascot - Getty

Princess Beatrice of York wore a vibrant orange skirt and coordinating fascinator designed by Sarah Cant to the races in 2004.

Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, 2014

Queen Elizabeth II (L) and her husband Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot in 2014 - AFP 
Queen Elizabeth II (L) and her husband Britain's Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh at Royal Ascot in 2014 - AFP

Queen Elizabeth II attended the 2014 races with her late husband, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. She sported a summery pepto-pink look, which consisted of a shift dress with a matching tailored coat and a floral-trimmed hat.

Princess Eugenie of York in cherry red, 2017

Princess Eugenie of York attends Ladies Day of Royal Ascot  - WireImage 
Princess Eugenie of York attends Ladies Day of Royal Ascot - WireImage

Ladies Day is always a highlight of the Royal Ascot line-up, and for the 2017 event, Princess Eugenie wore a bold box-pleated gown, with a hat which had flowers that picked up on the shade of her dress.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex in cream, 2015

Sophie, Countess of Wessex on day 1 of Royal Ascot  - UK Press
Sophie, Countess of Wessex on day 1 of Royal Ascot - UK Press

For day one of the 2015 races, the Countess of Wessex cut a chic figure in a flattering high-necked cream midi dress and matching accessories.

Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, 2009

Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice at Royal Ascot 2009  - Reuters 
Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice at Royal Ascot 2009 - Reuters

The temperamental UK weather is never to be underestimated, and Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice were wise to opt for long sleeves and smart jackets for a day out at Royal Ascot in 2009.

Princess Diana and the Duchess of York in bold brights, 1987

Diana Princess of Wales and Sarah Duchess of York stroll through the Royal Enclosure - Getty 
Diana Princess of Wales and Sarah Duchess of York stroll through the Royal Enclosure - Getty

Diana, Princess of Wales and Sarah, Duchess of York stood out in the crowd in bold hues and classically '80s silhouettes as they strolled through the Royal Enclosure in 1987.

Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mother and Princess Anne in colour block looks, 1970

Queen Elizabeth II (right) with Princess Anne (centre) and the Queen Mother  - Getty 
Queen Elizabeth II (right) with Princess Anne (centre) and the Queen Mother - Getty

The Queen, Princess Anne and the Queen Mother relied upon a combination of pillbox hats and matching knee length coats for a day at the races in 1970.

The Duke and Duchess of Kent, 1982

The Duke And Duchess Of Kent At Royal Ascot  - Tim Graham
The Duke And Duchess Of Kent At Royal Ascot - Tim Graham

The Duke and Duchess of Kent visited the races in 1982. The Duchess was unfazed by the wind in a small pillbox hat, which she paired with a matching dress and jacket.

The Duchess of Cambridge in crisp white, 2017

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends day 1 of Royal Ascot  - Max Mumby
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge attends day 1 of Royal Ascot - Max Mumby

Kate braved the grass at Royal Ascot in a clean all-white look, not entirely dissimilar to her debut Ascot look. She teamed her high-necked dress with a floral hat placed atop her low bun.

Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth in fabulously frothy looks, 1949

Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth in 1949 ascot - Keystone France
Princesses Margaret and Elizabeth in 1949 ascot - Keystone France

Princess Margaret and then-Princess Elizabeth cut stylish figures in structured jackets and feather-trimmed accessories for Royal Ascot in 1949.

The Duchess of York in all-over buttercup yellow, 1987

The Duchess of York attends Ascot - Getty 
The Duchess of York attends Ascot - Getty

Fergie, as she is affectionately known, opted for a fun, quirky look for Royal Ascot in 1987: her coordinating lemon look consisted of a figure-flattering peplum jacket, pencil skirt and chic wide-brimmed hat.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex go for classic glamour, 2018

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend day 1 of Royal Ascot  - Getty
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend day 1 of Royal Ascot - Getty

The Duchess of Sussex opted for a tried and tested luxury brand for her Ascot debut in 2018: Givenchy. She paired her white shirt dress with slick monochrome accessories, sporting a Philip Treacy hat and Balenciaga heels.

The Duchess of Cambridge in powder blue, 2019

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge ascot 2019 - Samir Hussein
Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge ascot 2019 - Samir Hussein

The Duchess had previously plumped for ivory lace for her Ascot appearances, so this powder blue number was quite the departure style-wise. Her pale blue look was by Elie Saab and her hat and silver court heels nicely complemented it.

For more news, analysis and advice from The Telegraph's fashion desk, click here to sign up to get our weekly newsletter, straight to your inbox every Friday. Follow our Instagram @Telegraphfashion