Should we be forced to dress up for Royal Windsor?

By Derby House on |



Perhaps we are all used to wearing what we like these days without anyone remarking but there are still times when our attire is dictated by the event.

Royal Windsor Horse Show is one such occasion. The show, held in the grounds of Windsor Castle, by permission of Her Majesty the Queen, enforces a dress code for those wishing to enjoy the facilities of the Members Enclosure. The organisers require ‘patrons to be smartly dressed’.

Those wearing blue denim jeans and or trainers, or ‘sports attire’ will be turned away and ‘Gentlemen’ should wear a jacket and collared shirt. The rules are clearly stated and yet each year people come unprepared – most offenders are those wearing blue denim jeans.

Some accept their silly oversight and go off and buy a pair of trousers from one of the many trade stands. Others however decide to take their mistake out on the ‘messengers’ in the organiser’s office.

And boy did some rail and rant.

One lot of six came en masse and thought nothing of shouting – often all at the same time. There’s nothing in the least endearing about adults behaving like two-year-olds deprived of an ice-cream. But seemingly everyone has rights these days.

Do they have a point? Is it unreasonable to request how people dress and what they should wear? After all designer trainers and jeans are not cheap – a justification offered by several ladies who felt they obliged to point out how much they paid for their blue denim. Although, had they thought it through, entry based on the cost of an outfit is simply silly…

No rider would enter an arena in the ‘wrong trousers’ because they had forgotten their best breeches

Royal Windsor might be thought old-fashioned but consider what takes place at the event that runs for five days, hosts four international equestrian competitions and over 150 showing classes. Every one of the competitors, regardless of which discipline they are competing in, will be suitably attired.

No rider would enter an arena in the ‘wrong trousers’ because they had forgotten their best breeches and only had their blue ones that they exercise in.

Part of the spectacle of Royal Windsor or any equestrian show come to it, is the turnout of the riders and their horses. Could you imagine watching a line-up of un-brushed and un-plaited horses with riders in jeans and hoodies?

The effort to shine put in by grooms and riders for these shows is enormous, where usually the stewards and judges all wear suits and hats. Another Windsor special are the four in-hand carriages and trade turnout classes. How much effort does that take to get horses and carriages gleaming?

It takes individual members of the 66-horse Kings Troop musical drive three hours to get their own horses ready

It is however nothing compared to the exertions of those taking part in the military displays for which Royal Windsor is well-known. It takes individual members of the 66-horse Kings Troop musical drive three hours to get their own horses ready and after a rain soaked display on the Thursday evening took them another three hours to strip down and clean the tack and gun carriages before they even started on their uniforms.

And spectators love the display. Its precision, discipline and the pattern and uniformity are part of what makes it appealing.

Ultimately most of us like a uniform and don’t like to stand out for the wrong reason.

Most still dress-up for a wedding or a special party and enjoy an occasion to get out the glad rags. If we are competing in a dressage competition we would wear the correct colour breeches, jacket and gloves.

We do this because it is a polite and mannerly response to the invitation or in the case of an equestrian event, respectful to organisers and judges.

It is also the rules and by taking part we accept the rules. The organisers of Royal Windsor go to a huge amount of effort to make the show a special occasion of which it is.

The least anyone can do if they want to be part of it, is to wear the right trousers.


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