Queen races to Royal Ascot after State Opening of Parliament


The Queen is dashing from the State Opening of Parliament to Royal Ascot - and is expected to make it to time for the royal carriage procession.

Ascot's daily list of royal attendees has the Queen riding in the first carriage with the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the monarch's former private secretary, Lord Fellowes.

Buckingham Palace said the Queen was still heading to the second day of racing at the Berkshire course despite the Duke of Edinburgh being in hospital.

Philip was admitted on Tuesday evening as a ''precautionary measure'' for treatment of an infection arising from a pre-existing condition.

"Her Majesty is being kept informed and will attend Royal Ascot as planned this afternoon," a Palace spokesman said.

The race-going Queen particularly looks forward to attending five full days of action at the Berkshire course each June.

As Black Rod entered the House of Commons during the pomp and ceremony of the State Opening, MP Dennis Skinner quipped to laughter in the chamber: "Get your skates on, first race is at half-past two."

The Queen's Speech in the House of Lords finished at around 11.47am. The carriage procession is at 2pm and the first race - The Jersey Stakes (Group 3) - is at 2.30pm.

The 91-year-old travelled by car back to Buckingham Palace and is expected to either head to the racecourse by car - or perhaps by helicopter for a speedier arrival - possibly via Windsor to meet lunch guests.

This year, the Queen does not have to change out of her gown and crown.

She delivered her speech at Westminster wearing a day dress and hat, rather than her grand robes and Imperial State Crown.

The Queen wore a delphinium blue coat, with a blue and yellow floral silk dress and matching hat adorned with flowers by Angela Kelly.

But she may switch to a different day dress and hat to attend the races.

The spectacular carriage procession which usual ferries the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to and from the Palace of Westminster was replaced with a car journey.

As the State Opening of Parliament was due to be held four days after the Trooping the Colour ceremony, it was deemed unfeasible for the military and Royal Mews to stage two major events in such a short period.

It is not the first time the Queen has combined Ascot with a State Opening.

In 2001, she opened Parliament and then hurried to Ascot.

She swapped the Imperial State Crown for a hat and changed out of her ceremonial gown at Buckingham Palace, before making a fast car journey from London with a police escort to the racecourse.

She arrived at 2.15pm - 15 minutes before the first race - and later saw her horse, Temple Way, finish unplaced in the Ascot Stakes.

But there was no carriage procession because the carriages and horses were still at Westminster, having been used for the State Opening of Parliament.

Wednesday's Queen's Speech was due to take place on June 19, but it was delayed for two days - coinciding with the second day of Royal Ascot - after the inconclusive outcome of the General Election.

Windsor's Order of the Garter ceremony had already been cancelled - now unnecessarily - at short notice because it clashed with the June 19 date.

The annual event in St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, attended by the monarch, senior royals and figures from national life, attracts hundreds of well-wishers who watch the colourful spectacle of Garter Knights processing in their grand velvet robes to the service.