Extravagant hats on display at Royal Ascot 2021

Written by Leah Dolan, CNN

A pink and yellow rose the size of a satellite dish blooms out of the head of one guest. Another is engulfed by a canopy of cascading feathers. Perched on the hairline of one blonde attendee sits an enormous sequined strawberry. These are the zany hats currently on show at the prestigious Royal Ascot 2021, an annual horse racing event and high point of the British social calendar.

Every June, Royal Ascot hosts more than 300,000 visitors at its location in Berkshire, England. First founded by Queen Anne in 1711 — and regularly frequented by members of the royal family ever since — the crown’s presence at Royal Ascot has meant those who wish to cheer at the sidelines must adhere to strict sartorial codes. In recent years, hats — a mandatory accessory required for attendance — have become a conduit for creative expression.
“Hats certainly are the stars of the show at Royal Ascot and guests continue to embrace them as part of the theater and tradition of the occasion,” Sarah Burton, acting head of buying for fashion and beauty at the London department store Fortnum & Mason, told CNN in 2019.

This year, Royal Ascot is set to look different as guests pair quirky face-coverings with their outlandish hats, in line with current coronavirus restrictions.

A number of the Royal family were in attendance on Tuesday, including Prince Charles and Camilla, and the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall. Charles donned the same grey three-piece suit worn at Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex’s wedding. Camilla wore a sky blue hat and striped dress, with Sophie, Countess of Wessex, and Zara Tindall, daughter of Princess Anne, opting for similarly understated tones of nude and blush. Meanwhile, Princess Anne stepped out in a resplendent royal blue dress, jacket and hat.

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