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The Royals

A true British institution, the Royal Family is considered to be one of the country’s main attractions. From their illustrious palaces and their intriguing traditions to their deep roots in Britain’s history, the Monarchy continues to be a symbol of the nation.

With HM Queen Elizabeth II celebrating her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 and the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall winning over the hearts of the world, there’s never been a better time to be a Royal

The Queen has received in excess of three million items of correspondence during her 60-year reign

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Zara Phillips weds Mike Tindall

The ‘other’ royal wedding of the year took place on 30th July at Edinburgh’s Canongate Kirk on the city’s Royal Mile. A stylish affair, with 300 guests and a 6,000-strong crowd celebrating the couples nuptials Read More »

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Diamond Jubilee 2012 events announced

Here at BRITAIN we’re very excited about Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, when the UK will be celebrating 60 years of Elizabeth II’s reign Read More »

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Queen Elizabeth II portraits by Cecil Beaton

In the run up to the Diamond Jubilee, the V&A is holding an exhibition of portraits of Her Majesty by photographer Cecil Beaton Read More »

Diamond Jubilee Portrait

Diamond Jubilee portrait commissioned

The National Portrait Gallery commission the first portrait of HRH The Queen and Prince Philip photographed together, to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee Read More »

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River pageant and special medal for Diamond Jubilee

A spectacular river pageant is planned for this year’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations Read More »

History of Royal Ascot

History of Royal Ascot

The 300-year story of racing at Ascot begins in 1711, when Queen Anne put the idea into motion to pursue her love of horse racing.

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Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip attend Royal Ascot

The 300-year story of racing at Ascot begins in 1711, when Queen Anne put the idea into motion to pursue her love of horse racing.

Ascot Racecourse is a famous English racecourse, located in Berkshire, and used for thoroughbred horse racing. It is one of the leading racecourses in Britain hosting nine of the UK’s 32 annual Group 1 races. Ascot is closely associated with the British Royal Family as it is approximately six miles from Windsor Castle.

Every year Royal Ascot is attended by HM Elizabeth II and various members of the British Royal Family, arriving each day in horse-drawn carriages. The Royal procession takes place at the start of each race day, and the Queen’s Royal Standard is raised. This year the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, Beatrice and Eugenie arrived together in horse-drawn carriages to celebrate the event’s 300th year.

The Royal Enclosure is the most prestigious of the three enclosures, and is where the Queen and her entourage sit. Entry to the Royal Enclosure is strictly regulated: first-time applicants must apply to the Royal Enclosure office and be nominated by a current member; existing badge holders receive an invitation each year from Her Majesty’s Representative.

Ascot is famous for its extravagant gowns and headpieces. Millinery creations this year included birds, flowers and even a paint palette. Premier Admission is not as formal as the Royal Enclosure, but visitors still dress up, and fascinators are the norm.

The history of Royal Ascot is of great interest to many horse racing fans. Queen Anne, an equestrian sports fan, came across a clearing that looked perfect for racing while taking a carriage ride through the forest near Windsor Castle. The clearing was bought for just £558, and she ordered it to be prepared for racing. On 11 August that same year the Royal racecourse played host to its first race, ‘Her Majesty’s Plate’. However, following the death of Anne, racing at Ascot faded as King George I despised all sports.

Racing returned to Ascot in 1720 and it soon became one of Britain’s most famous racing venues. King George IV initiated the first royal carriage procession on the track in 1825 and the tradition has continued ever since.

Royal Ascot is also an attraction for those who like to bet. Odds for each race are displayed at each betting company’s stand. Despite the rain, and the plentiful umbrellas, some 300,000 people attended Royal Ascot this year.

For this year’s results and more information visit www.ascot.co.uk

Kate Middleton Wedding Dress

See ‘THE DRESS’ on display

The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress was the hottest topic of conversation for months leading up to the Royal Wedding, and the final reveal not only wowed onlookers, but also showcased centuries of home-grown skill, and design craftsmanship.

Kate Middleton Wedding Dress
Thanks to the Royal Collection Trust you can see this exquisite example of British tailoring for yourself, as the dress will be on display at Buckingham Palace from the 23rd July till the 3rd of October for the annual Summer Opening.

Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen was commissioned for the design, and the ensemble respected McQueen’s hallmark style of Victorian corsetry. Pinched at the waist with padded hips, a satin bodice, and made from ivory and white stiffened organza, the design remained regal, but with a modern touch (including a considerably shorter train) to fit a thoroughly modern Duchess.

The Royal School of Needlework, founded in 1872, put their brilliant technical skill to work for the lace appliqué. A traditional Irish Carrickmacross lace-making technique was used on the bodice, made of ivory silk-tulle, and hand-engineered flowers; a rose, thistle, shamrock, and daffodil were incorporated into the design. The intricate lace embellishment seen in the bodice of the dress, was also replicated throughout the whole ensemble, including the shoes that were handmade at McQueen, and the silk-tulle veil.

Generational tradition appeared in the Tiara, which held The Duchess’ veil in place. Littered with small brilliants and baton diamonds with a large brilliant in the centre, the Cartier ‘Halo’ tiara was lent to the Duchess by the Queen. Originally made in 1936, the tiara was purchased by The Duke of York (later King George VI) as a gift for The Duchess of York (The Queen Mother), who then presented to Queen Elizabeth on her 18th birthday.

Included in the display will be the earrings commissioned by the Middleton family and created by London-based jewellers Robinson Pelham. Inspired by both the new Middleton family coat of arms, as well as our wonderful national tree ‘The Great Oak’, the design boasted a pavé-set diamond acorn suspended from beautifully bejewelled oak leaves.

If all of this isn’t enough to take your breath away, the display will also be complimented by the Royal Couple’s wedding cake, which will be shown in the State Dining room. Using British ingredients, and decorated with sugar flowers, cake designer Fiona Cairns created a multi-tiered masterpiece that would’ve made Marie Antoinette blush.

The Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding dress and the royal wedding cake will be on display as part of the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace, which also includes the special exhibition Royal Fabergé.

Opening dates: 23 July – 3 October 2011.

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The Prince of Wales visits Painshill Park

His Royal Highness ThePrince of Wales, who is Royal Patron of Painshill Park Trust, recently visited Painshill, in Surrey, to view the ongoing restoration of the 18th-century landscape.

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His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, who is Royal Patron of Painshill Park Trust, recently visited Painshill, in Surrey, to view the ongoing restoration of the 18th-century landscape, and to unveil a plaque commemorating the rebuilding of the historic Five-Arch Bridge.

The Prince of Wales met many of the staff and volunteers who have been contributing to the transformation of Painshill since his last visit in 1995, and joined them in celebrating the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Trust. Mr. Gordon Lee-Steere DL, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, greeted His Royal Highness and introduced Lady Hamilton of Dalzell DL, President of Painshill Park Trust – whose family’s ancestor The Hon. Charles Hamilton created Painshill in the mid 1700s.

The royal tour began in the walled garden, where His Royal Highness was shown exhibits about how Charles Hamilton obtained rare exotic plants for Painshill. The tour then visited the restored vineyard, still producing sparkling wine from vines similar to those planted in the 18th century. His Royal Highness was introduced to Painshill staff members and volunteers, and to teachers and children from nearby Horley Infant School.

The Painshill Park Trust, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, was formed in 1981 to restore the 158-acre landscape garden. Charles Hamilton created the garden between 1738 and 1773, inspired by Renaissance art and his tours across Europe.

After three decades of significant restoration, Painshill is now Grade I listed and currently welcomes 75,000 visitors every year. More than 100 volunteers, including women prisoners from the nearby HMP Send, are involved with the ongoing restoration.

The Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Surrey, Mr. Gordon Lee-Steere DL, said: “We are delighted that His Royal Highness has come to Painshill to see the quite extraordinary restoration work that has taken place since his last visit here – and to meet some of those whose dedication and hard work has made it possible.”

The Prince finished his tour by unveiling a plaque to commemorate the start of rebuilding the Five-Arch Bridge. This is being funded by the Monument Trust, and is a key focus of the Painshill Restoration Programme, as replacing the bridge will allow water to flow freely through the entire lake and thus restore Hamilton’s long lake vistas.

For more information about the restoration, and details about visiting this gorgeous 18th-century landscaped park and gardens, visit www.painshill.co.uk.

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Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress

The biggest anticipation of Royal Wedding between William and Kate was for the bride, the wedding dress she had so successfully managed to keep secret, and that heart-stopping walk down the aisle on her father’s arm. Read More »

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Prince Philip becomes a nonagenarian

“I’ve done my bit”, were the words uttered by Prince Philip during a BBC interview, which aired to mark his 90th birthday. Read More »

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