20 JUNE 2007

The Duchess of Cornwall proved a front runner in the fashion race as Royal Ascot kicked off on Tuesday. Accompanied by Prince Charles - looking every inch the gent in a gleaming top hat and morning suit accessorised with a cornflower in his buttonhole - Camilla led the trend for shallow-brimmed, outsize headwear.

While she needed to hold onto her hat during the trip down Ascot's Straight Mile in a horse-drawn carriage, there was no doubting she was on to a winner with the creation by milliner-to-the-stars Philip Treacy. Adorned with a flourish of feather flowers below the brim, it perfectly complemented her white silk coat dress with navy beading by Anna Valentine.

Another member of the family opting for the saucer style was the Countess of Wessex whose wide-brimmed titfer also proved a top choice at the prestigious race meeting. It was up to the Queen, however, to add a splash of vibrant colour to the proceedings with her bright pink affair.

While the shorter brim of the monarch's choice of headwear had a more traditional feel, a stripe of green across the crown and a clutch of feathers added a contemporary edge.

The five-day event in Berkshire is one of the highlights of the British social calendar, attended by some 80,000 people each day. More eye-popping hats can be expected on Thursday which is Ladies Day.

Photo: ©
There's no doubting the royals have raised the millinery stakes this year at the prestigious annual race meeting. Camilla, accompanied by her prince charming, looked particularly stylish in a Philip Treacy hatPhoto: © RexClick on photo for gallery
Photo: ©
The monarch added a splash of summer colour with a vibrant pink titferPhoto: © Rex
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