Horse Racing

How to Get into the Royal Enclosure at Ascot Racecourse

How to Get into the Royal Enclosure at Ascot Racecourse
Photo by Icon sport

Situated in the charming British town of Ascot, just an hour away from London, the Ascot Racecourse is a popular venue for thrilling horse racing. After its recent revamp, the site has morphed into a sophisticated hub resembling a shopping mall or a mid-tier airport. A blend of modern architecture and a classic, elegant atmosphere make the Ascot Racecourse stand out.

The Transformation of Ascot into Royal Ascot

Amid this racing complex, the Royal Box is distinguished by a line of bronze medallions representing past monarchs and door handles shaped like riding crops. While ordinarily, the racecourse bustles with betting windows, flat-screen TVs, and the usual sounds of an airport or mall, its true essence comes alive every June.

During this period, Ascot transforms into the venue for Royal Ascot, a five-day-long event steeped in tradition and grandeur. Royal Ascot, the Queen’s official thoroughbred race meeting, was established in 1711 by Queen Anne and has since become a key gathering of British high society. Its strict dress code, an array of refreshments featuring champagne and Pimm’s, and the quintessentially British sense of restrained joyfulness make it a sight to behold.

Royal Enclosure at Ascot Racecourse

The Divisions within Ascot

Royal Ascot is divided into three distinct sections: the Windsor Enclosure, the Queen Anne Enclosure, and the coveted Royal Enclosure.

Windsor Enclosure

Previously known as the Silver Circle, the Windsor Enclosure is the most relaxed in terms of dress code, with the sole rule being a ban on replica sports jerseys. This section features three entertainment stages, numerous bars, and food stalls. It’s the go-to spot for party-goers and is known for continuing the celebrations even after the day’s last race.

Queen Anne Enclosure

The Queen Anne Enclosure provides a slightly more formal environment. Women are expected to dress smartly and accessorize with some form of headgear, while men must wear suits and ties. This enclosure tends to be crowded and has a youthful, fun vibe.

Royal Enclosure

The Royal Enclosure is the epitome of Royal Ascot, requiring one to either be a member or a guest of a member for admission. The dress code here is stricter. Women must wear modest dresses or pantsuits and a hat with a base of at least four inches, while fascinators are prohibited.

Men are expected to don traditional morning dress—consisting of a black or grey tailcoat, striped trousers, a waistcoat, and a top hat. The hat rule is rarely relaxed, even during scorching summer days. This enclosure offers a unique opportunity to socialize with royalty and watch some of the most exhilarating horse races.

The Intrigue of Gaining Admission to the Royal Enclosure

Securing a spot in the Royal Enclosure has always been surrounded by an aura of mystery. It was once the responsibility of the U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James to compile a list of visiting American civilians and diplomatic and military personnel for consideration. However, this practice was discontinued in 2015 for various speculated reasons, leaving interested individuals to apply independently.

The application process is straightforward but involves obtaining letters of recommendation from two existing members of the Royal Enclosure who have held their membership for at least four years. Once all the paperwork is in order, one waits silently for the acceptance letter.

 Royal Enclosure at Ascot Racecourse: The Experience

Once inside, the best way to enjoy the Royal Enclosure is at your own pace. Arrive early to place a bet on the color of the Queen’s hat and secure a spot on the shaded lawn in front of the grandstand for the fashion parade. At exactly 1:45 p.m., rush to the railings to watch the Queen’s carriage procession pass by.

Enjoy a lobster roll and champagne in the garden, watch a few races, sip a chilled Stella Artois, and if you’re fortunate, see the Queen present the trophy to the winning team. Whether you stay for a few hours or the whole day, visiting the Royal Enclosure at Ascot promises an unforgettable experience.

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About the author


Andrew Shassetz is a seasoned freelance writer who combines his academic background from the University of Alaska, where he studied Journalism, with a genuine love for horse racing. Following a significant life-changing accident, Andrew courageously shifted his career path from mainstream journalism to full-time freelancing.

Today, he passionately delves into the thrilling world of horse racing and sports. He delivers compelling, insightful commentaries that resonate with readers worldwide, redefining sports journalism with his unique blend of personal experience and professional expertise.