The races at the Royal Ascot are not only famous as the quintessential expression of the royal sport of horse racing but also the scene of, sometimes, truly outrageous hat fashion styles. The race meetings, which started on Tuesday, have seen, as is the norm, some superbly stylish and downright funny creations.
Fashion and fun aside, the Royal Ascot races is one of the highlights of the social season in the UK and it appears the organisers are keen to ensure it remains as much. New entry guidelines for the 2012 meeting have prohibited the entry of people they call "mad-hatters". The result of the guidelines was quite evident during the first three days of the Royal Ascot, which is on till Saturday, 23 June.
Although attendees did still turn up in unusually designed hats, the fashion styles were relatively modest and did not necessarily convey outrageous message. For example, one person wore a hat with the Olympics symbol, celebrating the fact London is the host city of the 2012 Olympics 2012, scheduled to take place from 27 July to 12 August 2012.
Meanwhile, the Royal Ascot organisers also issued guidelines for a dress code. The code stipulated ladies in the Royal Enclosure were required to wear dresses and skirts of modest length; these were defined as "falling just above the knee or longer."
It wasn't just the women who had to be careful of what they wore.
"For gentlemen in the Royal Enclosure, it is a requirement to wear either black or grey morning dress, which must include a waistcoat and tie (no cravats), a black or grey top hat and black shoes," the fashion guidelines of the Royal Ascot read.
"In Grandstand Admission, a hat, headpiece or fascinator should be worn by ladies at all times. Strapless or sheer strap dresses and tops are not permitted. Gentlemen are required to wear a suit and tie," it added.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip attended the first two days of the Royal Ascot, arriving, as per tradition, in a horse-drawn carriage with the Royal procession.
The Royal Ascot has been around for over 300 years and was first founded by Queen Anne in 1711. It remains, with good justification, one of Europe's most famous race meetings.
Check out the unusual hat styles at the 2012 Royal Ascot 2012 pictured below...