After missing the first four days, the Queen returned to her beloved Royal Ascot on Saturday.

The event was held behind closed doors last year but was being staged this time round as part of the reopening of society following the Covid lockdowns.

There was delight when Her Majesty arrived at 2pm  to watch her horse Tactical’s bid to add to her long list of winners. She was welcomed with waves, cheers and applause by the crowd, overjoyed to see her after a two-year absence.

At around 1.30pm, announcers had let it be known that the Queen was on her way, drawing a large section of the crowd to the paddock to watch her entrance. She was driven around the paddock as the band played the national anthem, with the crowd joining in.

The Queen, who was not wearing a face mask due to the meeting being held as a Government test event, was introduced to fellow guests and dignitaries.

The Queen was not wearing a face mask because of Ascot's status as a test event

Credit: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

There had been high hopes that she would attend all five days of the event this year, as up to 12,000 visitors have been allowed in every day.

The monarch missed the opening day as she was greeting Scott Morrison, the Australian Prime Minister, during an audience in the Oak Room at Windsor Castle.

Neither did she attend Ladies Day, where she has previously presented the prestigious Gold Cup prize – missing it for only the second time in 69 years – with Princess Anne, 70, presenting the trophy instead.

Ascot veteran Richard Fitzwilliams said: "Racegoers have much missed the Queen, who places such value on Royal Ascot because of her expertise in equestrian matters and passion for the turf."

Another of the monarch’s horses, Reach for the Moon, was riding in the first race, the Chesham Stakes, and Her Majesty was seen talking to jockey Frankie Dettori ahead of the start. Reach for the Moon was narrowly beaten by Point Lonsdale.

Her eldest grandson Peter Phillips was also seen arriving earlier in the day. The carriage procession that usually proceeds each day’s racing did not take place.

On Thursday, the Royal family sent a tweet to honour the Queen’s love of racing and Royal Ascot. The message was accompanied by a montage of pictures of the Queen there over the years and read: "The Queen is Patron of @Ascot and has attended #RoyalAscot almost every year.

"With a passion for horse racing since childhood, HM is the owner and breeder of many thoroughbred horses, a number of which have won at #RoyalAscot."