The Duchess of Cambridge was the picture of elegance in a delicate designer ensemble as she joined the Queen at Royal Ascot this afternoon.
Kate, 37, donned a blue lace creation by A-list favourite Elie Saab as she joined the Queen, 93, husband Prince William, 36, and Prince Charles, 70, and the Duchess of Cornwall, 70, for the traditional carriage procession, which marks the official start of the day’s races.
Also in attendance were Princess Eugenie, Zara Phillips, Sophie Wessex and Queen Maxima and King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands, who yesterday attended the Order of the Garter Service at Windsor Castle.
In typically good spirits, Queen Maxima beamed as she waved through the window to well-wishers as the carriage trundled past.
Royal Ascot, the jewel in the crown of the UK racing calendar, starts today with the Queen Anne Stakes and will run until Saturday.
The five-day racing festival is one of the most glittering events in the summer social calendar, and guests did not disappoint in the fashion stakes as they arrived at the Berkshire course dressed to the nines in vibrant dresses, dapper morning suits, and extravagant hats adorned with flowers, racehorses and bees.
Royal blue! The Duchess of Cambridge joined Prince William and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, left, at Royal Ascot
Royal arrival: The Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall arrived in a carriage with William and Charles
Family outing! The Queen, left, was joined by senior royals including Sophie Wessex, right, at Royal Ascot this afternoon
Race day ready: Prince Charles and the Duke of Cambridge both smiled as they arrived for Royal Ascot this afternoon
Light-hearted moment: The Duchess of Cambridge and the Countess of Wessex share a joke, left. Right, Kate in Elie Saab
VIP: Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, right, was given the honour of sitting beside the Queen in her carriage this afternoon
Touchy feely: Zara puts an affectionate arm around her uncle Prince Charles shoulders, left, and chats to Kate, right
Catching up: Princess Eugenie, Zara Phillips and the Duchess of Cambridge spend time together at Royal Ascot today
Plenty to smile about! King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, left, looked in typically good spirits. Right, Mike Tindall was in high spirits and teased Prince William as their wives looked on
Royal hosts: The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak to King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands
TV presenters, models and society beauties led the glamour as Royal Ascot kicked off in style today.
Lady Kitty Spencer, Kirsty Gallacher and Charlotte Hawkins were among the well-dressed racegoers who pulled out all the fashion stops and refused to let a bit of rain dampen their fun.
Crisp white summer dresses, statement jumpsuits and hats decorated with bees were all on display as thousands of revellers descended on the Berkshire racecourse this morning.
Summer style: Lady Wilnelia Merced attended with a guest, left. Right, women give a masterclass in summer style
Sticking to the theme! Rebecca Johnson flashes a beautiful smile in her customised Royal Ascot hat at the course today
Feathered fancies: Head-to-toe orange was one racegoer’s bold look, left. Right, Zara Sassoon in a frothy white ensemble
More is more! Ines Hernandez from the Dominican Republic, left, wore a gloriously eye-catching hat for the occasion
Time for a selfie! Glamorous racegoers arrive for the first day of Royal Ascot as the five-day festival gets underway
Dream team! Racegoers pose for a snap on their way in, left. Right, Rebecca Johnson matches with her Royal Ascot date
Starting young! Dapper Chase Spranklin, 10, from Florida, was dressed to the nines for his outing to Royal Ascot today
Think pink! Whether it was floral (as seen on interior designer Anouska Lancaster, left) or feathers, pink was popular
Bringing a splash of colour: Elegant racegoers beam for the cameras as they soak up the atmosphere at Royal Ascot
Setting up camp: One of the favourite bits about Royal Ascot for many people is the picnic that takes place outside, pictured
Watch the hat! Designer Amanda Wakeley whips out an umbrella, left, and Zara Sassoon uses a hat box as a rain shield
Cheers to them! A group of well-dressed racegoers toast to the start of a fun day with a picnic near Ascot Racecourse
The ultimate accessory! Umbrellas were needed to help keep racegoers dry as they made their Royal Ascot entrance
It won’t rain on their parade! Extra umbrellas were needed inside Ascot Racecourse but the spirits were still high
Royal Ascot is a much a social occasion as a sporting event and racegoers take the opportunity to turn on the style, from chic hats and summer dresses to sharp suits.
Visitors to the high-profile racing event this year also have a wider choice of garb, as organisers say they are free to choose a gender dress code they ‘feel most comfortable’ with.
Under the changes, women will be allowed to dress like men and vice versa – as long as they stick to the rules.
This year’s Royal Enclosure dress code says ‘Gentleman’ must wear black or grey morning dress with a waist coat and tie.
Picnic in the rain: Racegoers didn’t let a spot of damp weather put an end to their pre-Royal Ascot picnic
Ominous skies: Racegoers cross the course beneath cloudy grey skies, left, and take out umbrellas once inside, right
Time for a refreshment! Umbrellas in hand, revellers sat down to enjoyed a chilled drink inside the racecourse
Girls’ day out! Tangerine dresses were the order of the day for this gaggle of glamorous women at Royal Ascot
Strike a pose! Australian model Georgia Fowler made sure to give the photographer different angles as she arrived
Great British summertime! A tablecloth, wine and silver ice bucket made this Royal Ascot picnic a very civilised affair
Turning heads: Ines Hernandez, left, and Rebecca Johnson, right, were among the standout arrivals at Royal Ascot
Pushing the boundaries: One woman dons a suit, left, following the relaxing of the Royal Ascot dress code this year
Can you ever have too many hats? Jodie Kidd makes a statement with a teetering tower of top hats at Royal Ascot
‘Ladies’ are not allowed to wear strapless and off-the-shoulder dresses, while mid-riffs have to be covered and fascinators are also banned.
In previous years, it has insisted attendees cover their midriffs and avoid wearing fascinators and that still stands.
While in previous years there has been no official style guide for the Windsor Enclosure, except to dress for a formal occasion, now female attendees are requested to wear fascinators, like those in the rest of the enclosures.
Royal Ascot has put in place strict dress codes since the early 19th century .
The race gathering’s famously strict clothing rules hark back to sartorial trailblazer Beau Brummell, who dictated the dress for men in the Royal Enclosure at the turn of the 19th century and was fond of cleaning his shoes with champagne.
Old fashioned glamour: A group of women in orange dresses strike a pose on their way into Royal Ascot
Retro glamour: A wicker Fortnum & Mason hamper completed the look for this stylish couple ready for a day at the races
Top hats and tails: Men weren’t left behind in the fashion stakes and pulled out their very best clothes for the occasion
Perfectly polished: The well-turned out Royal Ascot staff pose for a photo before festivities get into full swing at the course
Flower power! Ines Hernandez from the Dominican Republic, left, and Victoria Muir, right, plump for floral hats
Ready for the fun! Racegoers beamed as they arrived at Royal Ascot for the start of the five-day race meet today
Fun and fabulous: Journalist Flora MacDonald Johnston, left, and Edite Ligere show off extraordinary hats at Royal Ascot
Final touch-ups: A racegoer helps secure her friend’s navy fascinator as the pair kick off a day of fun at Royal Ascot
Getting excited! Elegant racegoers arrive by train, left, before making their way on foot to Ascot Racecourse, right
Quick change! Looking to save their feet, many women arrive in flats before swapping into heels on arrival, pictured
On their way! Racegoers snap a picture en route to the course, left, while two friends arrive in co-ordinating outfits, right
Time for tea! Racegoers enjoy a carpark picnic before heading in to start the fun inside Ascot Racecourse this morning
Capturing the moment! Women pose for selfies, left, and arrive arm-in-arm for the first day of Royal Ascot this morning
Quiet moment: A well-dressed gentleman offers a flash of his Union Jack socks as he reads the newspaper in the carpark
Bubbles for two: With two glasses and a bottle on hand, this couple enjoy a civilised drink before heading into the racecourse
Well prepared: A picnic table, chairs and several cool boxes are laid out as one group get ready for Royal Ascot
Making an entrance! A carriage is the traditional way to arrive for a day at the races – and shows no signs of going out of style
Off they trot! A group elected to arrive by horse-drawn carriage on the first day of Royal Ascot this morning
Great British past-time: Polite racegoers wait in line in their Ascot finery as they arrive at the Berkshire racecourse today
Guess where they’re going! Royal Ascot racegoers bring a splash of colour to London’s Waterloo station
Two years ago, the event broke with convention by allowing racegoers to wear jumpsuits in the Royal Enclosure for the first time.
Organisers also announced they would try to draw in a new breed of visitors by putting on a ‘party atmosphere’ and a ‘more vibrant feel’.
Meanwhile, no changes have been made to rules for ‘Gentlemen’.
Juliet Slot, commercial director of Ascot, said: ‘Fashion and style are an important part of the Royal Ascot experience for all of our customers.’
The boys have arrived! Well-dressed gents clutching an edition of Racing Post arrive ready for the day at Royal Ascot
Security checks: Searches are carried out at the entrance to the Queen Anne Enclosure at Ascot Racecourse this morning
Bag checks: Security checks were in place for all racegoers as they made their way into the grounds this morning
On alert: A security officer and her sniffer dog move through the crowds at the entrance to Ascot Racecourse this morning
Ready to go! Impeccably dressed stewards are briefed as they prepare for the first day of Royal Ascot this morning
Safety checks: Police officers with sniffer dogs patrolled the grounds ahead of the arrival of racegoers at Royal Ascot
Patrol: Teams of police officers and sniffer dogs were dispatched to secure the racecourse ahead of the festival today
Calm before the storm: The entrance to the Ascot Racecourse, where guest bag searches will take place during the day
Before the excitement: The beautiful parade ring at Ascot Racecourse ahead of the start of Royal Ascot today
How To Dress Well For Ascot
Dresses and skirts should fall above the knee or longer
Dresses and tops should have straps of one inch or greater
Jumpsuits are welcome, but should fall below the knee
Trouser suits welcome, but should be full length and of matching colour
Headpieces must have a solid base of four inches or more
Queen Anne Enclosure
Strapless dresses or tops are not permitted
A hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn at all times
Trouser suits must be full length, jumpsuits should fall below the knee, shorts are not permitted
One shoulder dresses, strapless tops and bardot are nor permitted
A hat, headpiece or fascinator must be worn at all times
Trouser suits are welcome, they should be of full length and matching colour
Jumpsuits are permitted but should be below the knee
Dress for a formal occasion, with a hat or fascinator