By MAYSA RAWI
Carole Middleton arrives as part of the royal carriage procession for Ladies' Day at Ascot
Carole Middleton was lying low while the Royal Family have had a busy couple of weeks attending official engagements.
But not one to be left out, she stole the limelight when she arrived at Ascot today in a horse-drawn carriage, as part of the Royal procession, for Ladies' Day.
Kate's mother wore a champagne-coloured suit, teamed with a relatively demure hat given the occasion.
Despite painstaking efforts though, racegoers spent the majority of the morning covering their heads
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But the pouring rain saw colourful umbrellas come out in full force, as the event continued for the third day.
Ladies Day is the highlight of the week and luckily the weather didn't seem to dampen punters' spirits as they attempted to enjoy the afternoon, come rain or shine.
Umbrellas away: The weather brightens up
Washout: Racegoer Jenny Munklik wears a black swan style hat and a positive umbrella at Ascot today
Brolly follie: Punters wore their brightest umbrellas as one Japanese punter wore traditional dress for Ladies' Day on day three of the Berkshire event
Opened in 1711,Queen Anne first spotted its potential when riding in the forest near Windsor Castle.
Long gone are the days when the Royal enclosure at Ascot was so exclusive that divorcees were banned from its sacred lawns and women had to wear gloves.
Aristocrats once reigned supreme but now X-Factor supremo Simon Cowell has a box.
Soggy morning: Guests head into the Royal Enclosure
Singers Shirley Bassey and Bryan Ferry are handing out racing trophies this year although the honour of giving the prize to the winner of Thursday's Ascot Gold Cup always goes to the Queen.
And paparazzi on the hunt for the most outrageous hats on Ladies Day will not have to look far.
Publicity seekers sashay about in over-the-top concoctions in the daily fashion parade that was immortalised by flower girl Eliza Dolittle in the musical "My Fair Lady.
Never off duty: Model Aimee Nazroo poses in a Modern Milk hat and another model raises awareness for Malaria with a mosquito-themed hat
Cacophony: Racegoers are determined not to let the weather dampen their spirits
'You cannot think of Ascot without thinking fashion in the same sentence' said designer Amanda Whateley who is showing her collection once more at Royal Ascot 2011.
The ever elegant Bryan Ferry, lead singer of Roxy Music, sported top hat and tails to present one of the trophies.
'Fashion has always been a great interest for me. It is nice to see people dressing up. The British do it very well. Just look at the royal wedding,' he said.
Colour blocking: The fashion paraded included this season's hottest colour combination, orange and purple
Exuberant Italian jockey Frankie Dettori, known as 'Mr Ascot' for his many triumphs on the great course, leapt from the saddle in his trademark flying dismount after landing the Prince of Wales's Stakes on Rewilding on Wednesday.
He had no doubt about the thrill of riding here.
'I'm overwhelmed. It doesn't get better than this.'
But a look into the Ascot archives shows that racing at the big meeting has been distinctly racey at times over the past three centuries.
In 1777, a boxing bout was held on the course with a giant prize presented to a winner who beat his opponent so badly that he lost an eye.
Birds of a feather: A monochrome head piece, left, and bird creation
Mad hatter tea party: Ladies Day always sees racegoers go to great and creative efforts with fashion
Today, racegoers congregate for a communal singalong around the bandstand after racing. It's a far cry from the days when cockfights were staged and 10 marquees set up for card games and EO, a forerunner of roulette.
In 1799, a full-scale riot erupted over accusations of fixing in a card game. The Light Brigade had to be summoned from Windsor Castle to quell the chaos.
Highwaymen preying on wealthy racegoers also held up coaches on the way to Ascot.
Colour coordinated: Women even matched their umbrellas to their outfits
Snobbishness abounded when the introduction of a rail line to Ascot meant that the masses could now enjoy a day at the races.
Nineteenth century reporter Pierce Egan feared Ascot could no longer be protected from 'the pollution of sheer cockneyism,' a blunt dig at working-class racegoers from the East End of London.
Ascot racecourse manager Charles Barnett, who welcomes 300,000 fans to the course over the five-day racing extravaganza, clearly revels in the rich history of the picturesque track.
'It is as stylish and elegant as it has ever been. It is only our first 300 years and hopefully we will go on as long as that again,' he said.
Happy birthday Ascot: Course officials with 300th anniversary umbrellas