AP Photos: At Royal Ascot, the hats are almost as important as the horses -  ABC News

Fashion Takes the Spotlight at Royal Ascot: Hats Steal the Show Alongside Horses

LONDON — Each summer, the Royal Ascot attracts not only British royals but also thousands of attendees who dress to impress at this glamorous annual horse racing event. With its origins tracing back to 1711 when Queen Anne established the Ascot Racecourse in southern England, the occasion has become synonymous with opulent outfits and, above all, breathtaking hats.

While the attire is undeniably stylish, the hats take center stage, characterized by their extravagance, intricate designs, and occasionally defy gravity. This year’s showcase featured remarkable headpieces, including a colossal sunflower, several feathered creations, and even an “Alice in Wonderland”-inspired hat adorned with playing cards, a clock, and a whimsical ribbon that read, “We’re all mad here.”

Typically, around 300,000 visitors attend the Royal Ascot over a span of five days, adding to the grandeur of the event. Notable attendees this year included King Charles III and Queen Camilla, with some individuals specially designing their hats as a tribute to the new monarch.

Royal Ascot: The incredible hats on display at Ladies Day as race-goers  enjoy the sunshine - MyLondon

Viv Jenner, a talented milliner, sported a hat with a flowered brim that allowed the wearer to gaze through its center, crafted from a delicate arrangement of feathers. “I designed this hat with the king in mind, symbolizing new beginnings,” she explained. “That’s why I chose to incorporate the king’s racing colors of scarlet and purple, with hints of gold represented by my accessories, such as my elegant gold handbag.”

King Charles III and Queen Camilla are carrying forward the tradition of the late Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away in September. As an ardent lover, owner, and breeder of horses, she had been a prominent presence at the Ascot for over 70 years, making her absence in the previous year’s event notably felt.

The joy on the faces of King Charles III and Queen Camilla was evident as their horse, Desert Hero, defied the odds as an 18-1 longshot and emerged victorious in one of Thursday’s races. Queen Elizabeth II’s niece, Zara Tindall, expressed that the late queen would have been “proud and excited” to witness the triumph of the royal horse.

“To have a winner for Charles and Camilla and to keep the dream alive was truly incredible, and what a thrilling race it was — beyond all of that, what a race,” Tindall exclaimed.

As the horses sprint across the racetrack, it is the remarkable hats adorning the heads of attendees that captivate the attention and spark conversations. The Royal Ascot continues to be a magnificent blend of equestrian excellence and high fashion, leaving a lasting impression with its fusion of timeless traditions and contemporary style.