King to attend Royal Ascot to ‘honour Queen’s memory’

Queen Elizabeth II attends day 5 of Royal Ascot in 2017
Royal Ascot was a highlight in the late monarch's calendar every year - Stuart C. Wilson

The King is understood to be keen to attend Royal Ascot this summer to “honour the late Queen’s memory”.

King Charles, 75, plans to spend “at least” one day at the summer racing festival, which was a highlight in the late monarch’s calendar every year.

A racing source told the Mail on Sunday: “Racing is an important part of the legacy that he inherited from his mother and one that he treasures. That’s why he will be so keen to go.”

The newspaper reported that he will host a lunch for a select “bubble” of friends and family while there.

It comes as the monarch has taken a step back from his public engagements since early February while he has been receiving treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer.

Queen Elizabeth II, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles
King Charles plans to spend 'at least' one day at the summer racing festival this year - Tim Graham

He has continued to conduct state business behind closed doors, including his daily red boxes and weekly meetings with the Prime Minister, but has scaled down his public appearances on medical advice from his doctors.

However, aides have spoken of hopes that the King will continue to take “gentle steps” back into public life after he attended an Easter Service in Windsor and undertook an unexpected walkabout to meet members of the public.

It marked a moment of “great hope and optimism” for the monarch to soon make a tentative return to royal calendar highlights, such as the five-day racing fixture in June that was such a favourite of the late Queen that she missed it only once during her 70-year reign.

Charles is expected to “ramp up” more public engagements towards the summer months, a palace source has said, and it is hoped he may be able to attend Trooping the Colour a few days before the racing festival in June.

His treatment has not caused him serious side effects and the source has added that “the road ahead is looking very positive” as diary plans evolve.

Adjusted guidance from his doctors allowed him to undertake the public walkabout over Easter and it is thought that this would also allow him to see members of the public in the open air at Ascot in a few months.

Queen Elizabeth II, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and Prince Charles attend day 2 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse
The King will host a lunch for a select 'bubble' of friends and family while there - Samir Hussein

A source told the Mail on Sunday that the racing festival is “the perfect event for his current ‘bubble-style’ distancing preferences,” adding: “There will be lots of fresh air and plenty of chances to be seen by Royal fans who will be desperate to get a glimpse. I would bet that he attends on Tuesday, the day of the King Charles III stakes.”

The King Charles III Stakes was named last year in honour of the monarch’s first racing week since he ascended to the throne in September 2022. He attended all five days.

The late Queen had opted to watch her beloved horses compete on TV at Windsor Castle rather than attend Ascot in person in 2022, leaving the Duke of Kent with the task of leading the royal carriage procession.

She was rarely seen as happy as when one of her horses was victorious at the event, and last year her dream was “kept alive” as her son watched Desert Hero, an 18-1 shot bred by Elizabeth II, win the King George V Stakes.

The new King appeared visibly moved as he watched the victory while Queen Camilla was seen beside him in the Royal Box wiping a tear from her eye.

His niece Zara Tindall noted that it was a “bittersweet” moment for the family because their minds would have been on “how proud and excited our grandmother, the Queen, would have been”.

While all the King’s plans remain in flux and subject to medical guidance, there is “great hope and optimism” from Charles and his doctors about a tentative return to public life.