Why does the royal family wear their biggest hats to the Royal Ascot?

The Internet is ablaze with photos of the British royal family at the Royal Ascot — with Queen Elizabeth II, the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie all in matching blue to boot.

Each year, the horse race calls for the royal family’s most standout wears — including their biggest and boldest hats — producing some of the their most memorable looks. Take Princess Diana, who donned a color-blocked red and purple look with a matching hat in 1990 and the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, who channeled Audrey Hepburn’s Eliza Doolittle from “My Fair Lady” at her first Royal Ascot last year.

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Meghan Markle makes Royal Ascot debut
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Meghan Markle makes Royal Ascot debut
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend Royal Ascot Day 1 at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2018 in Ascot, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attend Royal Ascot Day 1 at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2018 in Ascot, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Sophie, Countess of Wessex, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex attend day 1 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2018 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and Sophie the Countess of Wessex (centre) during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex alongside trainer John Warren (left) during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex attends Royal Ascot Day 1 at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2018 in Ascot, United Kingdom. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Royal Ascot Day 1 at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2018 in Ascot, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)
Sophie, Countess of Wessex (centre) and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex arriving during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Royal Ascot Day 1 at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2018 in Ascot, United Kingdom. (Photo by Samir Hussein/Samir Hussein/WireImage)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 24 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Royal Ascot Day 1 at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2018 in Ascot, United Kingdom. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
The Queen's racing manager John Warren (left) with Meghan, Duchess of Sussex with Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Steve Parsons/PA Images via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 19: Meghan, Duchess of Sussex and Sophie, Countess of Wessex attend Royal Ascot Day 1 at Ascot Racecourse on June 19, 2018 in Ascot, United Kingdom. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
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While the royal family never shies away from a bold headpiece, the reason behind their Royal Ascot looks is steeped in a 300-year-old tradition. Since Queen Anne started the Royal Ascot in 1711, the event has followed a strict dress code that dictates each guest’s attire depending on which of the four enclosures — Royal, Queen Anne, Village and Windsor — they’re a member of, according to the Royal Ascot’s web site. The dress code has evolved since its inception, but is still deeply rooted in British tradition.

The Royal Enclosure — which includes the royal family — requires women to wear a hat with at least a 4-inch base. Women are required to wear dresses and skirts falling above the knee or longer and are permitted to wear pants or a jumpsuit as long as it’s worn in a monochromatic color scheme. Men are also required to wear a top hat, only in black or gray. They’re also required to wear a waistcoat, tie and black shoes with socks.

The Queen Anne and Village enclosures follow the same dress code, requiring women to wear a hat, headpiece or fascinator and wear clothing fit for a “formal occasion.” Men are not required to wear top hats, but must wear a full-length suit in matching colors, a tie and socks with shoes.

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Kate Middleton stuns at the Royal Ascot
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Kate Middleton stuns at the Royal Ascot
The Duchess of Cambridge during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
Britain's Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall look out from a carriage in Windsor Great Park on her way to Royal Ascot horse race meeting in Ascot, England, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP)
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) and the Duchess of Cornwall during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
The Duchess of Cambridge attending day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) and the Duchess of Cornwall during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) and Duchess of Cornwall during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) speaks to Zara Tindall whilst attending day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) and the Duchess of Cornwall during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
Britain's Kate, Duchess of Cambridge looks out from a carriage in Windsor Great Park on her way to Royal Ascot horse race meeting in Ascot, England, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (Steve Parsons/PA via AP)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
The Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke of Cambridge (left to right) during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
CORRECTING TITLE FROM PRINCESS TO DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE- Britain's Prince William, center, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, arrive on the day one of the annual Royal Ascot horse race meeting in Ascot, England, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
From left, Prince William, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, Britain's Prince Charles Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall arrive on the day one of the annual Royal Ascot horse race meeting in Ascot, England, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, right, and Prince William talk with Netherlands' Queen Maxima, second from left, and Netherland's King Willem-Alexander as they arrive on the day one of the annual Royal Ascot horse race meeting in Ascot, England, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
CORRECTING TITLE FROM PRINCESS TO DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE- From left, Britain's Prince William, Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, and Britain's Prince Charles arrive on the day one of the annual Royal Ascot horse race meeting in Ascot, England, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
CORRECTING TITLE FROM PRINCESS TO DUCHESS OF CAMBRIDGE- Britain's Prince William, center, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, arrive on the day one of the annual Royal Ascot horse race meeting in Ascot, England, Tuesday, June 18, 2019. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
The Duchess of Cambridge attending day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) speaks to Zara Tindall whilst attending day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
The Duchess of Cambridge during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (left), Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Duchess of Cambridge arriving during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) and the Duchess of Cornwall during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse.
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (L) and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (R) attend on day one of the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London, on June 18, 2019. - The five-day meeting is one of the highlights of the horse racing calendar. Horse racing has been held at the famous Berkshire course since 1711 and tradition is a hallmark of the meeting. Top hats and tails remain compulsory in parts of the course while a daily procession of horse-drawn carriages brings the Queen to the course. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
The Duchess of Cambridge (left) and the Duchess of Cornwall arriving by carriage on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (L) and Zara Phillips (R) attend on day one of the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London, on June 18, 2019. - The five-day meeting is one of the highlights of the horse racing calendar. Horse racing has been held at the famous Berkshire course since 1711 and tradition is a hallmark of the meeting. Top hats and tails remain compulsory in parts of the course while a daily procession of horse-drawn carriages brings the Queen to the course. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
The Duke of Cambridge (left), Queen Elizabeth II, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (left), Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands (left), Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Prince of Wales during day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands with Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, (L) and Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, (R) attend on day one of the Royal Ascot horse racing meet, in Ascot, west of London, on June 18, 2019. - The five-day meeting is one of the highlights of the horse racing calendar. Horse racing has been held at the famous Berkshire course since 1711 and tradition is a hallmark of the meeting. Top hats and tails remain compulsory in parts of the course while a daily procession of horse-drawn carriages brings the Queen to the course. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge on day one of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 18, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)
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The Windsor enclosure does not have a specific dress code, but men and woman are encouraged to dress in “smart daywear” with a hat or fascinator.

This year, Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, arrived in a pastel blue lace dress by Elie Saab with a matching floral hat by Philip Treacy. Princess Beatrice, also in pastel blue, wore a lace dress by Maje with a matching hat accented with a colorful tassel. The queen also opted for the shade with a matching floral hat.

While the royal family’s headwear was on the more conventional side, other attendees took liberty with the dress code, bringing out their most embellished and fanciful headwear including one guest who wore a hat featuring a three-dimensional bee and another who wore a towering stack of colorful hats.

Click through the gallery to see all the standout headwear moments from the first day of the Royal Ascot.

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Best fashion from the 2019 Royal Ascot
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Best fashion from the 2019 Royal Ascot
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: A racegoer attends day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Tatiana Korsakova attends Ladies Day at Royal Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Tatiana Korsakova)
Zara Tindall during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Adam Davy/PA Images via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: (L-R) Glen Johnson, Laura Johnson, Marius Jensen and Kara Tointonon day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse )
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: (L-R) Laura Johnson, Glen Johnson, and Peter Crouch on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse )
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: (L-R) Lucy Humble, Zafar Rushdie and Rosie Tapner on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse )
Jessica Hunter from Windsor celebrates a winning bet in the Gold Cup, during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: (L-R) Hubert Zandberg, Peter Crouch and Abbey Clancy on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse )
Jockey Frankie Dettori (left) and owner Bjorn Nielsen celebrate winning the Gold Cup on Stradivarius during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Lady Gabriella Windsor and Thomas Kingston attend day three, Ladies Day, of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Queen Elizabeth II attends day three, Ladies Day, of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Autumn Phillips and Princess Eugenie of York attend day three, Ladies Day, of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Sophie, Countess of Wessex attends day three, Ladies Day, of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Victoria Pendleton attends day three, Ladies Day, of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Abbey Clancy and Peter Crouch attend day three, Ladies Day, of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Guest on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Natalie Dormer attends day three, Ladies Day, of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Samir Hussein/WireImage)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Guest on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Guest on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Nell Hudson on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Beth Butterwick on day 3 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Guest and Awon Golding on day 3 of oyal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
Racegoers react to rain during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
Charlotte Hawkins and Francesca Cumani during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Jonathan Brady/PA Images via Getty Images)
A general view of a table display in the carpark during day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Racegoers attend day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Racegoers attend day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Racegoers attend day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
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