ROYAL Ascot is as much about fashion — and those hats! — as it is about horse racing.
And Queen Elizabeth is using her favourite week of the year to highlight fashions and artisans across the Commonwealth.
The monarch, 92, has backed an exhibit featuring the unique outfits made across the Commonwealth, some of which are currently on display in the hall of the Royal Ascot main grandstand.
The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange initiative was launched by Livia Firth in February, and Kate Middleton and Sophie Wessex were among those who highlighted the work of the designers and artisans at a special Buckingham Palace party later that month.
Welcoming the expected 300,000 racegoers to Royal Ascot this year, the Queen writes in the program that the week “will highlight the strength and vitality of the Commonwealth, through a fashion exhibition with displays from all 53 Commonwealth Nations, and the fourth running of the Commonwealth Cup”.
Among the designers whose work is on display: Australian label Kitx, using work from the Solomon Islands in the Pacific; British heritage label Burberry; Shasha Designs of Guyana, which has teamed with Launesha Barnes of Antigua and Barbuda; and Vanessa Winston, an artisan from Dominica.
It is a landmark year for the Commonwealth – the union of 53 countries loosely linked to the UK – with the Queen likely attending her last heads of Government meeting in April; her son and heir Prince Charles, 69, being named as her successor as head of the organisation; and Prince Harry taking on the role of Youth Ambassador.
Along with Meghan Markle, 36, he is expected to put the Commonwealth at the forefront of his public work.