Forget rising inflation. The stewards were on the lookout for rising hemlines as they policed their strict new dress code on the first day of Britain’s Royal Ascot horse race meeting Tuesday.

Economists have been warning of the risk of recession as food and fuel prices soar and Britons see the value of their homes tumble. This morning the governor of the Bank of England had to write to the Chancellor to explain a spike in the cost of living.

But none of that appeared to matter as the highlight of the summer season kicked off on a bright sunny day.

For the first time this year the prize money on offer to jockeys over the course of the five-day meet in Berkshire has reached $7.8 million. Punters' champagne bills will cost about half that much, or $3.9 million. Last year they managed to consume 10,000 lobsters, 5,000 oysters and 18,000 baskets of strawberries in between races.

The Queen and fellow members of the Royal Family paraded the course in horse-drawn landaus, as they do before the first race every day of the festival.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh and the Duke of York, she wore a cream-colored coat with black pattern and trim with matching hat and waved to race-goers as the royal procession made the traditional arrival up the course’s straight mile.

Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie traveled in the second carriage for their first formal visit to Royal Ascot. The pair were accompanied by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.

After confusion over the definition of “formal day dress” in 2007 the Ascot authorities have reworded the dress code for women.

In now states: “For ladies, only formal day dress with a hat or substantial fascinator will be acceptable. Off the shoulder, halter neck, spaghetti straps and dresses with a strap of less than one inch and/or miniskirts are considered unsuitable. Midriffs must be covered and trouser suits must be full length and of matching material and color.”

Click here to read more on this story from the Times of London.