The weird, wonderful and wild were on show at Royal Ascot as female racegoers put on a riotous hat display to mark Ladies’ Day.
From headgear in the shape of a picnic hamper, complete with champagne and strawberries, to an aviary full of parakeets, owls and even a frog - punters pulled out all the stops for the racing day that doubles as a fashion show.
The Queen, who is a life-long horse breeder and owner, will arrive later at the famous racing meet and has a runner - Maths Prize - in the Britannia Stakes, which could give the monarch her 24th Royal Ascot winner.
The Duke of Edinburgh, who left a private hospital earlier after spending two nights being treated for an undisclosed infection, is likely to be convalescing at Windsor Castle.
British fashion designer Amanda Wakeley, who wore a black and white trouser suit from her collection and a Jane Taylor hat, summed up the mood of the event.
She said: “I love Ladies’ Day because everyone makes an even bigger effort. Everyone has their own take on femininity and I’m a big fan of staying true to yourself.”
Argentinian-born Paula Gibson, 59, had travelled to Ascot with British husband Jonathan Gibson from their home in Amsterdam and needed two hands to steady her large hat - a collection of exotic birds, owls, nests of eggs, butterflies, fruit and a frog.
She said: “I’ve been collecting the birds throughout the year from shops then sat down last weekend and put the hat together.
“The festivities here are so British, I love it. I’ve been coming on and off for the last 10 years and still enjoy it.”
Racegoers are encouraged to make a special effort with their outfits for Ladies’ Day, the mid-point in the five-day racing meet, which is as much a social occasion as a major sporting event for top owners, trainers and jockeys.
Marie Hudson, 76, was with a group of friends all from St Helens, and was sporting a hamper on her head filled with champagne flutes, a bottle of bubbly, sweet treats and fruit.
She said: “I just love Ascot, we come every year and just love the atmosphere. My hat was made by one of my friends Karen, it’s just something different.”
Punters were left counting their winnings after the Queen arrived wearing a pink hat, a colour backed by many of the racegoers.
William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said his firm had made the hue their favourite.
He added: “Punters will be tickled pink after getting the colour right for the first time this Royal Ascot.”
Coral’s John Hill said: “Over 80% of the bets we took on what colour hat the Queen would wear on Ladies’ Day were for pink so many punters have got their day off to a flying start before the racing has even begun.”