In pictures: Royal Ascot 2013 - Opening day

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Royal Ascot racegoers with outlandish hats stole the show on the opening day of the world-famous race meet.

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Gravity-defying creations of floral bushes and enormous blooms stood out from the crowds as punters arrived for the start of five days of racing.

The Queen, joined by the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, will make a grand entrance later processing along the course in a carriage.

But among the first of the famous faces to arrive was opera singer Katherine Jenkins, who described how she was attracted to the glamorous side of the event.

She said: "I love Royal Ascot, it's just so fashioned, old-fashioned glamour, old-fashioned traditions."

The entertainer wore a bright orange and pink hat by popular milliner Philip Treacy and a matching dress.

She added: "I would wear a hat every day if I could."

Racegoer Florence Claridge wore an artificial pink fuchsia plant on her head complete with dozens of blooms and a matching shocking pink dress.

She said: "You have to be a trooper to wear this, it's quite heavy - but I've been coming here for 25 years."

Model Jackie Sinclair's hat was an enormous pink rose made by milliner Bundle MacLaren.

She said: "It's made from layers of silk and is fabulous. I've been coming to Ascot for 31 years. I like the fashion, the Pimm's and the quintessential Englishness of it."

The Queen is a passionate horse owner and breeder, and during her long association with Royal Ascot has had 21 winners.

Her horse Estimate will run in the Gold Cup on Thursday and is a favourite with some of the bookmakers.

A victory in the race would be a boost for the monarch, who will attend the annual meet without the Duke of Edinburgh, who is convalescing at Windsor Castle after exploratory abdominal surgery.

In the foreword to the official programme, the Queen wrote: "I was fortunate enough to own a winner at last year's royal meeting, so I know what a thrill it is to have success at this wonderful racecourse whether you are a trainer, jockey, or one of the many hard-working stable staff associated with every runner."

PA

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