The Queen misses first day of Royal Ascot 2022 as Prince Charles and Camilla arrive

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall taking part in the carriage procession at Royal Ascot. Credit: PA

The Queen hailed Royal Ascot as a “thrilling” experience as racegoers filled the stands for the first time since the pandemic.

Punters are hoping that the monarch, a passionate racehorse owner and breeder, will make an appearance at the event this week, which is one of the highlights of the sporting calendar.

But their expectations for the first day of the Berkshire meet were dashed when a source said the Queen would not be attending.

Writing in the official programme, the Queen said: “After the challenges of recent times, this year’s royal meeting provides a long-awaited opportunity for supporters of racing from all over the world to come together for five days of outstanding sport.

“Once again, it is thrilling that horses from around the globe have travelled to Royal Ascot to compete at the highest level."

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall led the royal party on Tuesday, taking part in the traditional carriage procession along the course before the racing began.

They were followed by the Princess Royal and minor members of the royal family, including the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.

Princess Beatrice and her husband, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, walked through the gates to the course with other punters and were surrounded by photographers before making their way into an exclusive area.

Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi arriving ahead of day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. Credit: PA

The Queen has more than 10 horses entered over the five days of the event and, with her Windsor Castle home just a 15-minute drive away, there is still some hope that she will attend during the week.

Her horse Reach For The Moon, which missed out on being entered for the Epsom Derby, is favourite with some bookies to win the Hampton Court Stakes on Thursday with jockey Frankie Dettori taking the reins.

Royal Ascot is as much a social occasion as a sporting event and female racegoers wore summer dresses and flamboyant hats while the men sported top hats and tails or smart suits.