William, Kate Lead Royals and Represent Queen at Prestigious Sporting Event

Prince William and Kate Middleton have stepped in for Queen Elizabeth II as the principal members of the royal family attending the prestigious Royal Ascot races on Friday.

The Cambridges led the traditional carriage procession along Ascot racecourse, a position which until the COVID-19 pandemic had been taken by the queen, who is a passionate horsewoman.

William and Kate's premiere position on the fourth day of the racing event comes as the 96-year-old queen has reduced her number of public appearances after a series of health scares last fall, and what Buckingham Palace have officially called "episodic mobility problems."

The queen recently celebrated a weekend of events marking her Platinum Jubilee, however, her health caused her to miss all but two public appearances, the opening and closing balcony gatherings at Buckingham Palace.

Kate Middleton Prince William Royal Ascot 2022
Kate Middleton and Prince William deputised for the queen by leading the traditional carriage procession at Royal Ascot. June 17, 2022. Samir Hussein/WireImage

After the first of these appearances, following the Trooping the Colour, Buckingham Palace announced that the queen experienced "some discomfort" and would not be in attendance at the national service of thanksgiving the following day.

This was the only jubilee event where the public were able to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle take part since they moved to the U.S. in 2020.

As the queen has drastically changed her working model since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, which has seen her move full-time from Buckingham Palace to Windsor Castle and undertake a hybrid schedule of in person audiences and video conferences, other members of the royal family have seen their workloads increase.

The two couples who have shouldered most of the monarch's burden are her direct heirs, Prince Charles with wife Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, and William with Kate.

In May, the queen was unable to perform one of her principal constitutional duties in opening the British parliament. In her place the monarch arranged for Charles and William to attend, acting in their capacities as Councellors of State.

This title is given to a group of four of the most senior members of the royal family in line to the throne over the age of 21 and who can perform he king or queen's duties if they are incapacitated.

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Queen Elizabeth II is a passionate horsewoman and Royal Ascot is a highlight of the royal year. June 19, 2021. Chris Jackson/Getty Images

For the State Opening of Parliament Charles took on the most prominent role by reading the queen's speech for her before members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons.

Royal Ascot is an important event in the royal calendar and spans five days with members of the royal family being present on each, watching from a specially designated royal box.

The racecourse was founded over 300 years ago by Queen Anne and the Royal Ascot event as we see it today was begun in 1911.

In her 70-year reign the queen has attended at least one of the Royal Ascot race days apart from 2020 where the event did not admit spectators in accordance with the U.K. government's restrictions on public gatherings during the COVID pandemic.

With just one day left of the 2022 event, the queen has yet to make an appearance, instead reportedly watching from the comfort of her residence at Windsor Castle.

The first two days of this year's event were presided over by Charles and Camilla who were accompanied by younger royal sibling Prince Edward and his wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex.

Prince Charles Camilla Duchess of Cornwall Ascot
Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall led the royal carriage procession on the opening days of Royal Ascot, June 15, 2022. Samir Hussein/WireImage

The third day saw the queen's only daughter Princess Anne take precedence by leading the carriage procession which also included Princess Margaret's daughter Lady Sarah Chatto (nee Armstrong Jones).

William and Kate's presiding over the fourth day marks one of the highest profile royal events that the couple have deputized for the monarch in. It follows the Cambridge's stepping in to host one of the annual royal garden parties at Buckingham Palace in May.

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