King and Queen salute ex-head of Army with Royal Ascot carriage procession

The King wears a top hat in the open carriage, with Camilla beside him with a large, plumed hat
The King and Queen in their carriage, arriving at Royal Ascot - Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph

The King and Queen were joined in their carriage procession by the former head of the Army on Friday, as they arrived at Royal Ascot for the fourth day of racing.

The inclusion of Gen Sir Patrick Sanders, who stepped down last weekend, in the royal procession is a public show of gratitude for his two years at the helm.

His appointment as head of the Army was approved by Elizabeth II in Feb 2022 and he took on the mantle four months later, in the wake of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Gen Sir Patrick handed the baton to Gen Sir Roly Walker last weekend, describing his tenure as “the adventure of a lifetime”.

A studio portrait of the general in beret and camouflage shirt, with a Union flag behind him
Gen Sir Patrick Sanders has retired after a four-decade career - Sgt Jimmy Wise/MoD

In a career spanning almost four decades, he commanded operations in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

The 58-year-old is understood to be close to the Queen. Military sources said the pair had shared a “close bond” over The Rifles, ever since she became Royal Colonel of the 4th battalion, as Duchess of Cornwall when it was formed in 2007.

The Telegraph understands that, as Royal Colonel of Gen Sir Patrick’s battalion, she was a great help when they lost so many men in Basra, Iraq. They have been close since, sources added.

The King tips his hat to the ballerina
The King tips his hat to ballerina Darcey Bussell - Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph
Princess Beatrice at Royal Ascot on day four
Princess Beatrice at Royal Ascot on day four - Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph

Camilla went on to take over the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment from her father-in-law, the late Duke of Edinburgh, in July 2020, with Gen Sir Patrick presenting her with a bespoke Rifles brooch three months later.

Gen Sir Patrick was joined in the third carriage of the Ascot procession by his wife, Lady Sanders, who is an author, and Peter Troughton and his wife, Sarah Troughton, one of the companions of the Queen, who last year described her as “the nicest, kindest and most amusing friend one could possibly have”.

Meanwhile, the King and Queen were joined in the first carriage by their close friends, Lord and Lady Bamford. The two women were spotted clutching their hats to their heads in the wind.

The King sits between Lady Frederick Windsor and the Queen, who both sport huge hats
The royal couple with Lady Frederick Windsor. The Queen wears a duck egg blue coat dress by Anna Valentine - Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph
An open carriage with the three VIPs, all dressed formally
Sophie Winkleman, Princess Beatrice and Lord Frederick Windsor followed the King and Queen in the second carriage - Victoria Jones/Shutterstock

The Queen wore a duck egg blue coat dress by Anna Valentine, a Philip Tracey hat and Elizabeth II’s Jardine Star brooch, which the late Queen wore to Ascot in 2019.

Following in the second carriage were Princess Beatrice, her husband Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, Lord Freddie Windsor and his wife, Sophie Winkleman.

In the fourth carriage were ballerina Dame Darcey Bussell, her husband Angus Forbes, horse racer Henry de Bromhead, and his wife Heather.

The King and Queen had one horse in the running on Friday, Hard to Resist in the Sandringham Stakes.

A row of women in 1940s-style dresses and hats
This was the fourth day of the colourful annual racing fixture - Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph
Three women in very colourful hats and dresses form hearts with their fingers
The King and Queen had a horse racing on Friday - Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph

They will have been hoping for a better result than yesterday, when Gilded Water, their first entry, came a disappointing 12th despite being tipped as a favourite.

The race will mark Hard to Resist’s first appearance of the season following a disappointing fourth-place finish at Chantilly in the Prix Miesque last October.

The three-year-old filly will be ridden by Tom Marquand, donning the royals’ red and purple silks for the second time this week.

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