Excited Anne cheers and applauds in Queen’s absence at Epsom Derby Day

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An excited Princess Royal cheered and applauded along with members of her family while attending Epsom Derby Day, as the Queen watched at home in “comfy clothes”.

The monarch did not attend the major sporting event on Saturday, opting to view it on television from Windsor Castle, where she has been sent a souvenir race card to follow the action.

Anne, alongside her husband Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence and children Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall, who was with her husband, former rugby player Mike, could be seen pointing and cheering among the animated members of the royal box during the Cazoo Derby at 4.30pm.

Cazoo Derby Festival 2022 – Derby Day – Epsom Racecourse
Anne looked excited during the race (Andrew Matthews/PA)

It came as the Queen was a winner elsewhere at Worcester, as the royal silks were carried to victory by 7-2 chance Steal A March, with the head of state said to be keeping an eye on racing across the country.

Zara, speaking at the event, said: “She will be watching on the TV – she has a few runners today dotted around the country, so she knows exactly what’s going on.

“She’ll just be sat on the sofa watching the TV. She’ll be in her comfy clothes.”

Cazoo Derby Festival 2022 – Derby Day – Epsom Racecourse
The Princess Royal and Sir Timothy Laurence (John Walton/PA)

Members of the royal family arrived at the sold-out racecourse in Surrey just before 1pm as part of a procession.

Peter was pictured with his girlfriend, who has been named in numerous reports as Lindsay Wallace, despite it being rare for the girlfriend of a member of the royal family to attend a high-profile event.

Crowds cheered and waved union flags as they made their way in to the course, with Anne seen smiling.

She appeared in the royal box while the national anthem was played by a band.

Afterwards, Anne could be seen waving and laughing, while thanking those around her for a warm welcome.

The Princess Royal receiving a gift to the Queen from Epsom Downs Racecourse presented by Julia Budd
The Princess Royal receiving a gift to the Queen from Epsom Downs Racecourse presented by Julia Budd (Megan Ridgwell on behalf of The Jockey Club/PA)

The princess was later given a painting of Dunfermline, the Queen’s winner of The Oaks race in 1977, as a gift to the monarch.

Police were seen removing a group of people who ran on to the track ahead of the Derby race later on.

The group, who appeared to be protesters with banners, fell to the floor after the officers intervened.

Dozens of officers could be seen working to move them, as members of the royal box watched on.

The crowds cheered as they were taken away, with a voice on a public address system apologising to spectators.

Pro-vegan climate group Animal Rebellion claimed six women entered the area wearing sashes reading “Animal Justice” just before the Cazoo Derby at 4.30pm.

As Desert Crown closed in on becoming the decisive winner of the Derby, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy could be seen pumping his fists.

Anne was laughing along with Zara and others in the box.

Jubilee celebrations took place in the Queen’s absence, with 40 jockeys who have ridden for the owner-breeder donning the royal racing silks and forming a guard of honour before the national anthem was sung.

Cazoo Derby Festival 2022 – Derby Day – Epsom Racecourse
Willie Carson and Frankie Dettori on Derby Day (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Five of the monarch’s former racehorses were also paraded, and a selection of hats inspired by the seven decades of her reign have been displayed.

Asked about the royal procession arriving through a guard of honour of the Queen’s past and present jockeys, Zara said: “It was amazing. It was so nice to see so many faces. It was funny seeing them trying to fit back into the colours again, all the retired ones.

“Obviously, we’d love her (the Queen) to be here. But it’s nice to be here.”

Cazoo Derby Festival 2022 – Derby Day – Epsom Racecourse
Zara and Mike Tindall (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Mike added: “The Queen is such a wonderful woman and I have said this numerous times, but in terms of how you want a leader to be, she is that person and someone who sets an example.

“It’s such a shame that she’s not here with us but I know she’ll be tuned in and watching from home.”

Frankie Dettori and Willie Carson, who have ridden some of the Queen’s most memorable winners, lined part of the course with the other jockeys.

Cazoo Derby Festival 2022 – Derby Day – Epsom Racecourse
Past and present jockeys who have worn the Queen’s colours (John Walton/PA)

Describing for BBC News the pride he has felt while riding for the Queen in her racing colours, Dettori said: “Every time you see these (colours) on your peg you (have) this sense of importance and it’s a great honour.

“Look she’s a big lover of horse racing, and like you say, she’s only missed the Derby twice.”

Carson said: “She (the Queen) is the patron of racing and she has been a great advantage to horse racing.

“Her racing is her passion and everybody who takes an interest in the royal family will understand that her hobby is her horses.”

Among the famous faces in attendance were Downton Abbey star Jim Carter and fellow actress wife Imelda Staunton, comedian Lee Mack and tennis coach Judy Murray.

Staunton, who plays the monarch in The Crown’s upcoming series, said: “I’m very honoured to be in a place that the Queen obviously loves greatly – her big passion is horses.”

The Queen strokes racehorse McFabulous (Matt Keeble/PA)
The Queen strokes racehorse McFabulous (Matt Keeble/PA)

It comes after the Queen’s only runner Just Fine was removed from the World Pool Northern Dancer Handicap at the 48-hour declaration stage on Thursday.

Her hopes of winning the Derby were dashed earlier in May when her horse Reach For The Moon, who was among the favourites, and two others were withdrawn.

Thoroughbreds owned by the Queen have won four out of the five flat racing classics – the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas, the Oaks and the St Leger, with only the Derby eluding her.

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