And they're off! Royal Ascot 2012 gets off to a flying start

We're in the midst of the five day event that marks the beginning of British Summer Time, Royal Ascot.

Over the past 300 years Royal Ascot has established itself as one of the highlights of the British social calendar and has attracted the highest calibre of racehorses in the world. It was actually Queen Anne who, whilst out riding in 1711, saw the potential for a racecourse on an area of open heath near Windsor Castle.

To this day it maintains strong royal links, with the Royal Procession marking the beginning of each day of racing. Six races take place daily with £4.5 million of prize money on offer. The quality of racing goes unrivalled elsewhere. 

Saturday marks the climactic end of this exciting event with the Golden Jubilee stakes being one of the most important flat races in the world. In honour of the Queen's milestone 60th year in reign it has been renamed the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. With four kilometres of bunting decking out the world-famous racetrack, this year's event has a thoroughly patriotic vibe; many racegoers have embraced the Jubilee theme, incorporating the iconic Union Jack into their outfits.  

Union Jack bunting decorated the site whilst many racegoers sported red, white and blue / Getty Images   

Jockeys, horses and attendees alike sported bold colours for the racing at Royal Ascot / Getty Images 

The Queen arrives with Prince Philip in the Royal Procession / Getty Images 

Trudy Mylum (L) and Rebecca Johnson were Jubilee chic with unique headwear as they posed for photographers / Getty Images 

Suited and booted racegoers in The Royal Enclosure photograph the arrival of the Royal family at Royal Ascot / Getty Images 

Vibrant floral prints were out in force at the races / Getty Images 

The Royal family arrive in a fleet of coaches at the racecourse / Getty Images 

Quirky outfits turned heads in the enclosures / Getty Images 

Trainer Henry Cecil with Frankel and Tom Queally (R) after winning The Queen Anne Stakes / Rex Features 

A view from The Royal Enclosure as the Royal family arrive / Getty Images 

A Royal Ascot visitor sits at the wheel of a vintage Rolls Royce / Getty Images