Friday, June 22, 2012

Back on top form: Prince Philip laughs with the Queen and shares tips with Carole Middleton on Ladies Day at a rainy Royal Ascot

-Carole and Michael Middleton joined the monarch's carriage parade for the second year running
-Duke and Duchess of Cambridge otherwise engaged celebrating William's 30th birthday

By Deborah Arthurs and Rebecca English

Royal procession: The Queen and Prince Philip were accompanied in the first carriage by Sir Peter O'Sullivan, 94, a BBC racing commentator, while the Middletons followed behind in the fourth carriage

Carole and Michael Middleton arrived at Ascot in style today as they joined the Queen for her daily Royal carriage procession.

Waving and smiling to the crowds as they entered the parade ground, the two looked delighted to be part of the pageantry.

Sat in the fourth carriage along with Ronald Arculli, head of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the two smiled and waved as they entered the royal race course, delighted to be part of the pageantry for the second year running.

The Queen and Prince Philip were joined in the first carriage by Sir Peter O'Sullevan, 94, a BBC racing commentator who gave his last commentary on the Hennessey Gold cup in 1974, and John Warren, the Queen's bloodstock and racing advisor, who keeps the monarch abreast of her horses' training and performance

The Queen, wearing a mint green coat by Stewart Parvin and hat by Rachel Trevor Morgan, looked perfectly cheerful as she popped up her colour-matched Fulton umbrella when the heavens opened.

Big day: The Middletons' appearance at Royal Ascot is a clear sign of their acceptance into the inner circle of the Royal Family

Good relations: The Duke of Edinburgh and Carole Middleton share a joke whilst watching the Queen present the prize for the Gold Cup

All smiles: Carole was clearly tickled by what Prince Philip had to say

Ooh I say! Everyone is dying to know what Prince Philip's clearly hilarious remark could have been

Good company: Carole was flanked by Ronald Arculli, head of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and Prince Philip

Checking the form: Carole picks her horses ahead of the day's racing from the comfort of the royal box

Tense moment: Carole watches the race action with Michael by her side

On parade: Carole Middleton wore a crimson suit and matching hat with sweeping brim to join the Royal procession by personal invitation of the Queen

Guests of honour: The Middletons were in the fourth carriage, accompanied by Ronald Arculli, left, former head of the Hong Kong stock exchange and head of the Hong Kong Jockey club

Solo engagement: The Middletons attended without their daughter Kate, who was otherwise engaged helping William celebrate his 30th birthday. It was the first time the Middletons had attended a public Royal event without the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge

Runs in the family: The colour of Carole's dress was reminiscent of the red worn by Kate for the Jubilee flotilla

The four esteemed carriage members, with an impressive combined age of 320, were in very high spirits as they laughed and joked their way down the parade route.

While many assumed her appearance with husband, Michael, last June was a one-off event to mark the royal wedding, the couple’s appearance in the traditional parade from Windsor Castle to the race track at the personal request of the monarch sealed their place at the heart of the Royal Family.

Mrs Middleton, 57, looked striking in a scene-stealing pillar-box red dress and matching jacket with a matching wide-brimmed hat tilted off her face – all of which was enough to satisfy this year’s eagle-eyed fashion police.

Her husband, Michael, was dapper in a morning suit and top hat, both required dress for any man in the Royal Enclosure.

As they approached the cheering crowds, both Mr and Mrs Middleton joined the Queen in waving to well-wishers – although occasionally Carole broke off to hold onto her hat.

The monarch took her place on the royal balcony in time to watch her horse Momentary run in the 3.05pm Ribblesdale Stakes.

Her jockey Hayley Turner, who had been bidding to be the first female to win a race at Royal Ascot since Gay Kelleway rode Sprowston Boy to victory in 1987, was unlucky on the day, coming in third last.

An easy victory was taken by Princess Highway, who won by six lengths.

Racing fan: The Queen first went to Ascot in 1945 and has attended every year since

The Queen was entirely unperturbed by the inclement weather and laughed and joked with Prince Philip as their carriage entered the parade ground

And they're off: The Queen and Prince Philip, in fine form following his admission to hospital just two weeks ago, walk towards the royal balcony ahead of the Ribblesdale Stakes today

'She's fresh and well, there's no reason why she shouldn't win,' Hayley said of the Queen's filly, Momentary, ahead of the race.

It's a huge honour to be riding today. I'm hugely grateful, she added.

'It's nice to go out there into the paddock to meet the Queen. 'I've met her a few times now so we have a routine. The Queen is very relaxed, she loves talking about horses and is very knowledgeable.

Each year the sovereign holds a week-long ‘house party’ at Windsor, her favourite residence, to celebrate the historic royal race meet, inviting a small group of her closest friends and associates to join her.

The Middletons enjoyed a private lunch with her and other members of the Royal Family, including the Duke of Edinburgh, Princess Anne, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie, at the castle beforehand, before taking their place in the last of the four landaus which made their way down the Long Walk to the Berkshire course.

Following behind the royal carriage, the Princess Royal and Princess Beatrice were joined by Jeremy Richardson, who for many years ran the injured jockeys fund.

In the third carriage rode Princess Eugenie, accompanied by the Right Honourable Edward Tollemache - Godson of the Prince of Wales - with his wife Sophie, and Major Peter Flynn, the equerry for the Prince of Wales.

In the final carriage, Michael and Carole Middleton were accompanied by the chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey club.

Following on: Princess Anne, wearing the same suit she wore for Kate and William's wedding last year, travelled with Princess Beatrice in the carriage behind the Queen and Prince Philip

Ruling the waves: The Princess Royal arriving with Princess Beatrice

Princess Beatrice looked stunning in a red and cream Erdem dress, a designer favoured by the Duchess of Cambridge, worn with nude YSL platforms and a red silk Christian Louboutin clutch

Princess Beatrice looked trimmer than ever in a dress by Erdem, with a hat by Noel Steward and YSL cream stilettoes.

She carried a red silk Louboutin clutch bag.

Princess Eugenie wore a Paule Ka pink and black dress, Louboutin heels with an eye-catching silver heel detail and a Stephen Jones hat.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge do not plan to attend as they are otherwise occupied celebrating William's 30th birthday.

Prince Charles, usually in attendance on this day that sees the Prince of Wales Stakes run, was not able to attend due to a prior engagement with the Duchess of Cornwall and Aung San Suu Kyi, who is on a 10 day tour of the UK.

Sophie Wessex was present for the third consecutive day, dressed in a taupe skirt suit with matching hat.

Taking style tips from the Queen? Princess Eugenie paired her pastel suit with black accessories

Pretty in pink: Eugenie paired her Ladies Day look with a very impressive pair of Christian Louboutin heels, right

Arrivals: Princess Eugenie was in the third carriage with the Right Honourable Edward Tollemarche, godson of Prince Charles, and his wife Sophie

In the year that has passed since their eldest daughter famously married into the Royal Family, the Middletons have been welcomed by the Queen with open arms.

Indeed the warm affection and genuine enthusiasm the monarch has shown towards the couple has taken even seasoned courtiers by surprise.

She has let it be known that she thinks the family have conducted themselves ’impeccably’ since news of the royal engagement was announced – despite claims that the party goods business they run, Party Pieces, has cashed in on keynote royal events - and demonstrated her approval by inviting them both to a number of ‘inner sanctum’ events.

These include a private ‘getting to know you’ lunch at Windsor Castle the week before April’s royal wedding as well as Ascot week.

She also ensured the couple and their other children, Pippa and James, were invited to join her royal flotilla at the Diamond Jubilee river pageant.

Kate also secured her parents tickets to the after show party at Buckingham Palace following the celebratory jubilee pop concert the following day.

Family affair: The Countess of Wessex shared a conversation with Prince Michael and Princess Michael of Kent, and the three sheltered under large umbrellas as the weather worsened

Mark of respect: The Countess of Wessex, her father Christopher Rhys Jones and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent curtsey and bow to the Queen as she arrives at the parade ground

The Countess of Wessex topped off her taupe suit with a stunning bow-trimmed Jane Taylor hat

What a sight! The beautifully dressed crowds at Ascot Ladies Day

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