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Queen Elizabeth II at Royal Ascot on 14 June 2016

(Getty Images)

17 joyous photos of the Queen smiling at Ascot

This year marks the first time the Queen has missed Royal Ascot during her 68-year reign.

While the annual equestrian event hasn’t been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic, like many other events globally, it will go ahead this week with no spectators.

The monarch is a long-standing fan of the annual British horse racing competition and attends every year - usually making multiple appearances throughout the race’s week-long duration.

Looking back at photos of Her Majesty at the event, it’s clear to see how much she enjoys attending. Often criticised for looking stern at public engagements, the Queen is pictured beaming from ear to ear in the majority of photographs taken at Ascot.

The Queen’s been riding horses herself since the age of three and keeps up with her hobby today - despite her 94 years. The monarch was photographed riding her 14-year-old Fell pony, Fern, at the start of the month in Windsor.

She also recently approved a Horse and Hound feature profiling her love of all things equestrian.

Many of the Queen’s family members have inherited her passion, but it’s the monarch’s granddaughter Zara Tindall - Princess Anne’s youngest - who has most clearly picked up the baton.

The mum-of-two became individual European champion riding Toytown at Blenheim in 2005 and went on to be crowned BBC Sports Personality of the Year.