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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 20 June, 2000, 18:21 GMT 19:21 UK
Royal Ascot: Dos and don'ts
St George Cross hat
England fan Naomi Elliott: Time to forget the football
At Royal Ascot, watching the races is only half the fun. The highest stakes lie in negotiating the strict dress code and numerous etiquette hurdles.

Once upon a time, a divorcée, a bare-legged lady or a gentleman without a hat - or even the wrong coloured hat - could cause consternation by merely turning up at Royal Ascot.
Flowers
Crowns must be covered in the Royal Enclosure

Today the strict rules have been relaxed - yet listen in to a fashion commentator scanning the form on race day, and you could be excused for thinking the 21st Century is still a good few decades off.

"A trousers suit - she's a little risqué and daring," murmured the BBC's fashion expert Trinny Woodall on day one - an outfit cleared by the Ascot fashion police in 1970.

Eyebrows edged yet higher at another racegoer's "bold" decision to wear a black hat.

Feeding the racegoers
120,000 bottles of champagne
2.4 tonnes of smoked salmon
6,000 lobsters
4.5 tonnes of strawberries
550 gallons of cream
12,000 bottles of Pimms
75,000 bottles of wine
Others coped flak for chatting on mobile phones or chewing gum.

To gain entry to the hallowed Royal enclosure - where divorcées were once barred from attending - racegoers must be recommended by someone who is already on the list.

Men are required to wear morning suit, national dress or uniform - brown shoes are banned, and top hats are the order of the day.

Camilla Astor
Fuchsia: One of the colours of the season
In the late 19th Century, Lord Harris arrived at Ascot wearing a brown bowler. Edward VII took one look at the offending chapeau and loudly asked: "Goin' rattin', 'Arris?"

Ladies must wear a hat that covers their crown and formal daywear.

Trousers are only tolerated if part of a suit, and dresses and skirts must be no more than two inches above the knee.

legs
Bare legs are frowned upon
The late Princess of Wales once got away with going bare-legged into the Royal Enclosure, but anyone else would be expected to be turned out in stockings or tights.

Jenny, Viscountess Chelsea, who schools the upwardly mobile on the finer points of etiquette, recommends that women cover their shoulders and wear sensible shoes that match the outfit - walking on grass in stilettos is no easy task.

Melissa Hartman
And what about bare tummies and heads?
Tradition holds that as soon as the reigning monarch finishes eating lunch in the Royal Box, everyone else must stop.

Although an estimated £100m is gambled during the event, there are no bookies in the Royal Enclosure.

Divorcées have been allowed into the hallowed inner sanctum since 1955 - convicted criminals and undischarged bankrupts remain barred.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Mrs Shillings' famous Ascot hats
Ascot hats
See also:

19 Jun 00 | Sport
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