Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Story of a Hat, a Queen, and a Horse Named Black Caviar

The Crowds at Royal Ascot
It's been the talk of the town for months.  Royal Ascot 2012.  An exciting week of horse racing attended by dapper gentlemen, ladies in outrageous hats, and by The Queen herself.

The Queen's viewing area- filled with her personal artwork and furniture.  She even brings her own caterers!
Racing has been held at Ascot for over 300 years.  It is steeped in tradition and quite an experience.
We applied for tickets to the Royal Enclosure through the US Embassy.  This is basically a VIP section with a variety of restaurants, bars, seating and viewing areas.  It also has the most formal dress code.

So that meant morning suits and top hats for the gentlemen, and formal dresses with hats for the ladies. 

I'd heard all about the "hat lady", Margaret Partington, who has been hiring hats for over 25 years.  She has over 2500 different hats in her little shop which is housed in a charming tudor building that used to be a butcher shop in the 16th century.  She chose the most beautiful hats for my sister and me!

When the big day finally arrived, the weather was typically English.  Which is to say, cold, scattered showers and extremely windy!

Oh the poor ladies caught trying to hold onto their hats while their skirts blew around (think Marilyn Monroe) darting inside to avoid the sudden rain.  Sure made me glad I wasn't wearing a full skirt!

Each day, the Queen and Prince Phillip arrive at Royal Ascot in a horse drawn Landau carriage.  What fun to see them arrive while the band played "God Save The Queen."

Because of the chilly weather, I spent most of the day inside, sipping champagne and people watching with my sister.  But I did brave the cold to watch Aussie favourite Black Caviar extend her winning streak in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes.  It was such an exciting race!  And the Queen just beamed as she presented the cup to the winning trainer.

 My view of Black Caviar crossing the finish line.  (above)
The Queen in the Parade Ring to present the Jubilee Stakes Cup. (below)

I just love the way she stands out in the crowd!

It was a fantastic day!  As we walked back to the car with sore feet (on the ladies) and sore heads (on the men-those top hats are uncomfortable!), we all felt as though we had experienced something so uniquely English.  And I loved everything about it.


  1. The colors of the hats match your dresses perfectly! Are they from the same shop? Looks like you had a smashing good time :)

  2. Michelle- it was brilliant! And the hat lady has an expert eye- she looks at the dress, takes into account the wearer's height and build and then selects the right hat. Quite an interesting experience.

  3. You sure 'picked' the right year to live in London. The Queen's Jubilee, the Olympics...What an amazing year you're having! Glad your sis and Tony got to enjoy it.

  4. You guys look so English!!! I still cannot believe that you got to see the Queen..:D

  5. This is so awesome, Jenny! I love the pictures of you in your lovely dress and super British hat-- and your husband, all dressed up! What a very cool thing to do-- we live near Newmarket and are definitely going to try to go to a race this summer!

  6. That had to be the most fun thing EVER. I'm wicked jealous, and not just because of the hat.

    Okay, largely because of the hat.


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