Earlier this month we reported on the Royal Ascot races, one of the highlights of the English social season. This week ushers in another classic British sporting event-cum-society pageant, the Henley Royal Regatta. The five-day Regatta, held on the River Thames by the town of Henley-on-Thames, takes place over the first weekend of every July and runs from Wednesday the 2nd through Sunday the 6th this year.
International crews compete in various races at the Regatta, which has been held every year since 1839 except during the two World Wars, the main event being the Grand Challenge Cup for Men's Eights. Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort, became the Regatta's first Royal Patron in 1851, a tradition carried on by the reigning monarch ever since, though unlike Royal Ascot they don't always deign to attend.
Even more so than at Ascot, Henley provides an opportunity for aristocrats from the sporting and social sets to dress in that distinctively British style which has inspired so many fashion designers over the decades. The commercialization of Henley, unlike Ascot, Wimbledon and cricket at Lord's, has been slower to take hold, and as Godfrey Smith writes in The English Season, it is something of "an Edwardian time warp."
Gallery: Henley Royal Regatta