Aishwarya Rai Bachchan at the Royal Ascot

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Royal Ascot, the traditional equine celebration that forms the height of the racing calendar in the UK and dates back to 1711, had a new queen in presence this year – none other than the Queen of Bollywood, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. But did she see Queen Elizabeth during the Royal Procession? “This is my first time at the Royal Ascot. I’ve heard so much about it,” she says. “Yes, I did get to see the royal procession. The Queen’s wearing a lovely colour, she has such a presence — you have to do a bow to that.”

Royal Ascot is as much a haute couture fashion parade for the gentry as it is about the racing and Aish didn’t disappoint in a crisp grey suit topped by a magnificent black hat of plumes and features in the Ascot tradition. “I was a bit worried till I got my hat, one hears about outrageous hats people wear to Ascot,” she confided, “but I love mine. It’s so me.”

Meanwhile, Aish has been working with L’Oreal to launch a new trust called Beautiful Beginnings which will seek to provide education to underprivileged girls. Aish has long argued that transferable skills and financial independence are what women need most to help them. “This project is actually the brainchild of the Bachchan bahu and she suggested it to the company,” said a spokesman, “She has done films on women’s empowerment and now she wanted to do something more concrete to help such girls. Beautiful Beginnings is a training programme for young women from disadvantaged backgrounds — both social and economic — where free education will be given to them so that their career opportunities rise.”

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