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One of the royal family's favourite events cancelled in wake of COVID-19

Royal Ascot 2020 will not open to the public

Jenni McKnight

One of the royal family's favourite annual events has been cancelled in the wake of COVID-19. Royal Ascot 2020 will now be closed to the public for "health and safety" reasons, but there is hope that the event, scheduled to take place from Tuesday 16 to Saturday 20 June, may still run races behind closed doors. The horse racing event is often attended by the Queen, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Countess of Wessex, the Duchess of Cornwall and many other members of the royal family. Royal Ascot is a great event for the royals to showcase their stunning race day fashion, with Kate often stealing the show in her supremely chic outfits. Last year the Duchess wore a beautiful baby blue Ellie Saab midi dress, a Philip Treacy hat adorned with a large blue rose and an elegant pussy-bow neckline.

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In a statement on Tuesday, Chief Executive Guy Henderson said: "For public health and safety reasons we have reached the difficult but unavoidable conclusion that Royal Ascot 2020 will not be able to take place as an event open to the public. This will of course be a great disappointment for everyone planning to attend.

"It may prove possible to run the Royal Ascot races behind closed doors, dependent on Government and public health policy and the approval of the BHA for us to re-start racing. This would be for the benefit of the industry, our valued partners and suppliers and our television audiences at home and internationally. Planning for this is now our complete focus and we will update on progress as and when we can."

The statement continued: "Customers who have already paid for entry and hospitality at Royal Ascot will be refunded in full in the usual way as quickly as possible and we will start the process of communicating with them, initially by email, immediately. We thank everyone in advance for their patience and understanding in completing this substantial task given the challenging practical circumstances of the current national lockdown.

MORE: Royal events we'll miss this year because of the coronavirus pandemic

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Royal Ascot 2020 will be closed to the public

"The pandemic will have a significant financial impact on our business in 2020, along with so many others. Nevertheless, Ascot racecourse will come through this crisis and we look forward to being able to welcome racegoers back when it is safe to do so. Meanwhile, our thoughts are with all those grieving and suffering as a result of COVID-19. We offer heartfelt thanks to our wonderful NHS staff, key workers and volunteers for all their selfless dedication."

This isn't the only event loved by the royals that has been cancelled so far since the coronavirus outbreak. The Royal Windsor Horse Show, which is perhaps the Queen's most-loved event, announced the equestrian show will not be going ahead as planned. Her Majesty, who first learned how to ride aged three, hasn't missed the show since its launch in 1943. The Queen's grandson Harry joined her at the Royal Windsor Horse Show last year, just days after becoming a father to baby Archie.

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