All photos Guy, April & Alex Harris
One of the events of the iconic ‘Season’, The Henley Regatta was established in 1839. It became known as The Henley Royal Regatta in 1851 when Prince Albert became its first Royal Patron. This annual five day boat racing event takes place from Wednesday to Sunday over the first weekend in July and attracts international competitors including many teams from the US and Canada. There are many places along the Thames where you can watch the Regatta, and it is also celebrated and enjoyed at The Phyllis Court Club, a private members’ club on the banks of the Thames.
As you can see from the photo on the right, the Regatta is enjoyed by all ages, and the races are sometimes just a backdrop to what has become a very social event. You can also watch the event aboard boats of all descriptions on the River Thames.
The racing is very exciting, particularly on finals day, and I even had a very ‘My Fair Lady’ moment shouting “Go Canada” during one of the races! The prize giving is lovely too, as the rowers you saw dressed in skin tight racing gear only a few hours early look very glamourous indeed in formal dresses and suits.
Food is a big part of The Regatta. There are breaks in the racing for lunch and tea. From picnics to formal dining, there are all sorts of ways to assuage your hunger and while away an hour or so. And of course, four o’clock is always time for tea.
Everyone loves getting dressed up for the occasion and nearly all the ladies wear hats. Many of the gentlemen wear Panama hats as well.
Although the world is a very different place today than it was in 1839, for a few days each year, The Henley Royal Regatta takes folks back to a simpler, more traditional time. It really is a lovely way to spend a summer’s day.
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