King and Queen wished racegoers best of luck in chasing ‘thrill of Ascot winner’

The King and Queen wished racegoers the “best of luck” in chasing the “thrill of a Royal Ascot winner” as the famous meet began.

Charles and Camilla are proven fans of racing and are expected to arrive at the Berkshire racecourse in the traditional carriage possession ahead of the first race.

Royal Ascot 2023 was their first as King and Queen, and the couple – who took on Queen Elizabeth II’s thoroughbreds – watched as their horse Desert Hero won the King George V Stakes, their first winner at the famous meet as owners.

The King with Desert Hero after victory in the King George V Stakes (David Davies/PA)
The King with Desert Hero after victory in the King George V Stakes (David Davies/PA)

The late Queen was a passionate owner and breeder of thoroughbreds, and had more than 20 Royal Ascot winners during her 70-year reign.

Writing jointly in the official programme, Charles and Camilla said: “It gave us immense pleasure and joy to witness Desert Hero’s victory in the King George V Stakes last year, particularly as he was bred by Her late Majesty.

“We wish all the participants this week the very best of luck in seeking that unique thrill of a Royal Ascot winner.

“We also hope that those here at the racecourse and watching from home will enjoy five days of the finest racing that this sport has to offer.”

Punters dressed in stunning hats, summer dresses and smart suits will cheer on the riders over the next five days at the Berkshire race course.

It was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 after she declared Ascot ideal for “horses to gallop at full stretch” and has today become a major social event as well as a sporting attraction.

Royal Ascot 2024 – Day One – Ascot Racecourse
The Princess Royal and Lady Gabriella Kingston (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The carriage procession that heralded the start of racing took place in brilliant summer sunshine.

The King and Queen were joined in their carriage by Charles Wellesley, the 9th Duke of Wellington who carried Queen Mary’s Crown at the coronation before Camilla was crowned, and his wife the duchess.

They were followed by the Princess Royal who travelled with her son Peter Phillips, Lady Gabriella Kingston, the daughter of Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, and Charles and Camilla’s racing manager John Warren.

In the third coach was Camilla’s sister Annabel Elliot, her son Sir Ben Elliot, former co-chair of the Conservative Party knighted in Boris Johnson’s resignation honours list who is married to the daughter of musician Steve Winwood, and the Earl and Countess of Halifax.

In the final coach was Sir Johnny Weatherby, the racehorse owner and breeder and formerly the late Queen’s representative at Ascot from 2011 to 2020, and racehorse trainer Ralph Beckett and his wife.