The Queen has sent a message of support to the organisers of Royal Ascot, as the annual racing event takes place behind closed doors due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It marks the first time in her 68-year reign that the monarch has been absent from the race meeting. Instead the Queen, 94, will be watching the coverage on television from Windsor Castle.
Her Majesty's letter was posted in the racecard from Royal Ascot in its digital formal this year. The Queen wrote: "I send my best wishes to the thousands of racing professionals and enthusiasts who will join me in celebrating this year's Royal Ascot.
"In these challenging times, we are once again delighted to welcome the best horses and jockeys from across the world and pay tribute to those who have helped make this race meeting possible.
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The Queen's message to racing fans
"This year Ascot will feel different for many, as it is so often a chance for friends, families and colleagues to gather together and enjoy a shared passion. I am sure however, that with the valiant efforts of the organisers, owners, trainers and stable staff, it will remain one of Britain's finest sporting occasions and a highlight of the racing calendar.
"To everyone attending Royal Ascot, in person or virtually, I hope you have a most enjoyable and unique week of racing."
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The Queen with her horse Estimate in 2013
The Queen has a number of runners taking place in this week's races, including First Receiver, ridden by Frankie Dettori in the 1.50 Ascot Hampton Court Stakes on Wednesday. As an owner, the monarch will have access to a virtual Royal Ascot parade ring to be able to view her horses from Windsor Castle, where she and the Duke of Edinburgh have been isolating since March.
Her Majesty has attended the Berkshire races with a number of her family members over the years, including the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the Earl and Countess of Wessex and granddaughters, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.
The Queen had a particularly memorable year at Royal Ascot in 2013 when her horse Estimate won the prestigious Gold Cup – the first reigning monarch to do so in its 207-year history.
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