A royal diary clash: delay in state opening could hit Queen’s Ascot plans

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  • Speculation is building that the delay in the official opening of parliament could pose a clash with one of The Queen’s longstanding commitments — Royal Ascot.

    The state opening of parliament is scheduled for 19 June, but fall-out from the election result means this could now be put back a few days.

    With Theresa May and the Democratic Unionist Party wrangling over details of a deal, ministers have not yet confirmed that it will definitely go ahead on this date. However, reports on Tuesday (13 June) afternoon suggested there were “no outstanding issues” between the two parties in the way of a deal.

    Her Majesty has two runners at next week’s meeting (20-24 June) — it could be a close call to get to the Berkshire racecourse in time to watch Call To Mind in the Group Two King Edward VII stakes on Friday. However her parliamentary duties are unlikely to clash with Dartmouth running in the Hardwicke Stakes on Saturday.

    The Royal procession — where the monarch and guests arrive at the racecourse in horse-drawn carriages ahead of the racing — dates back to 1825 and King George IV.

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    The carriages are pulled by the Windsor greys and Cleveland Bays, with members of Thames Valley mounted police accompanying the procession. It is one of the popular traditions of the historic meeting and is the public’s first chance to see The Queen at the event.

    An avid racing fan, Her Majesty has missed very few days of Royal Ascot since her first visit in 1945.

    The state opening of parliament clashed with the meeting in 2001, but thanks to a short speech, a quick swap of a crown for a peppermint green hat and a fast car, The Queen made it in time for the first race. There was, however, no time for a royal procession.

    The last time she missed racing at Royal Ascot was in 1959, when she left mid-meeting for a trip to Canada.

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