By SARAH OLIVER
Royal occasion: The Queen with The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge along with Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice in the parade ring before the start of the Investec Derby
It was, in the end, the greatest show on turf.
Not the Derby, the classic flat race which is one of the highlights of the equestrian calendar, but the joyous family day out enjoyed very publicly by the Queen at Epsom Racecourse yesterday.
The biggest gathering of the Royal Family since the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge rendered the disappointing third-place finish of her much-fancied colt Carlton House almost trifling.
Come on, Carlton House!: Kate and Wills and the Royal party watch the Queen's horse at the Epson Derby 2011
Young royals: Princes William and Harry, dressed to the nines in their suits arrive at the Epsom Derby, with Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge at their side. Always the joker, Harry performs one of his silly walks
Family affair: They made their way to the royal enclosure to show support for the Queen's horse, Carlton House
Pink lady: The Queen arrives at the Epsom Derby in high spirits - and in a bright outfit - to cheer on her horse, which unfortunately did not win.
Kate dazzled in a collarless off-white jacket over a diaphanous white frock which showcased long legs shod in this season’s nude platform shoes.
On her head she wore a Forties-style cappuccino-coloured hat with her hair rolled tightly to the nape of her neck.
She was on the arm of her husband Prince William, resplendent in top hat and tails, accompanied by a similarly-clad Prince Harry.
Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, kept things simple, in a stylish off-white outfit with a nude-coloured fascinator
Relatively sane: Princess Eugenie and Princess Beatrice both made a reasonable recovery after the fashion disasters at the Royal Wedding
Deep in thought: William and Kate chat to a friend while the Queen watches the track, clutching her race programme
Hats off to them: The princes minus their top hats, with Kate
Come on! Eugenie and Harry shout some encouragement during the race
Their appearance alongside Prince Andrew with his daughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, Princess Alexandra and Prince Philip at a private rather than a public occasion, underlined the astonishing sense of renewal within the Firm.
(Curiously, Kate’s mother Carole Middleton, a member of a racing syndicate, also had a horse running yesterday. It said much about the ease with which Kate has joined the Firm that she carried out her role with such aplomb while her mum mingled with the crowd.)
But if it was a regally united front, it was also a charmingly relaxed one.
Stylish: Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice look chic and summery in their outfits for the racing event - a far cry from the dresses they wore for their cousin's wedding
Nail-biting: The Queen looks as though her mind might be on her horse's performance as grandson Harry looks on in the background
A right royal gathering: The Queen enjoys her family's company at Epsom
From the moment the Queen stepped from her Rolls-Royce to the strains of the National Anthem played by the Central Band of the RAF at 1pm, she appeared at her ease.
At 3.30pm she strode across to the parade ground to see Carlton House, named after a historic London Royal residence, being walked around the ring by his stable girl.
She laughed and chatted with other owners, her mood doubtless reflecting the fact that her horse had been declared 5-2 favourite by the bookies.
By 4pm, it seemed that more eyes were on the Royal Box, garlanded in Her Majesty’s racing colours of red, purple and gold, than were watching her longstanding jockey Ryan Moore as he entered the stalls.
Mum's the word: Kate's mother, Carole Middleton, was also at Epsom today. Right, the young royals enjoying the racing action
Horses for courses: Mickael Barzalona riding Pour Moi (second left, blue) challenges wide and late to win the Investec Derby. The Queen's horse Carlton House is fourth from left (jockey in red and purple top) - and finished third
Champion: Jockey Mickael Barzalona celebrates winning the Investec Derby on Pour Moi
Great white: Kate dazzled the crowd in a white dress while Princess Beatrice keeps hold of her hair
The 120,000-strong crowd, excitement and anticipation rising as the late-afternoon sun warmed the Epsom Downs, did a poor job of disguising their partisan support.
But if they’d hoped to see the Queen biting her nails, they were disappointed for she remained to the rear of the Royal Balcony, perhaps unable to watch the running of the one-and-a-half-mile course with its tortuous inclines and deceptive cambers.
To the fore, Sophie Wessex covered her eyes with her hands as Prince Harry punched the air and Beatrice and Eugenie hopped with excitement.
Dazzling: Newlywed Kate, still tanned from her recent honeymoon, smiles broadly while Eugenie watches the fourth race at Epsom
Fun day out: Kate and Eugenie share a joke at the races
This sporting life: The royals, including Prince Andrew (right) gather to watch the horses in action
Glowing: Sophie, Duchess of Wessex looked smart in a champagne silk skirt suit and large feathered hat
Nice day for a flutter: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Edward at Epsom