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Perth gets royal treatment on Cup day

AAP logoAAP 31/10/2016

The King and Queen of the Netherlands lent a royal flavour to what is usually a pretty casual affair at Perth's Ascot Racecourse on Melbourne Cup Day.

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima wanted to experience the "race that stops a nation" and did so in brilliant Perth spring sunshine alongside a crowd estimated at up to 18,000.

They watched Almandin's win in the Melbourne Cup several levels above the crowds in the private box of Perth Racing chairman Neil Pinner.

Jockey Steven Parnham, whose family are racing royalty in Perth, was asked to meet the king and queen.

Mr Parnham's father Neville is a leading Perth trainer that holds the record for training premierships, while 31-year-old Steven's two younger brothers are also jockeys.

Like many of the curious Perth racegoers, Steven didn't know the Dutch royals existed until he was asked to meet them.

"It's definitely a privilege," he told AAP and looked to be having a great time chatting and laughing with the queen in the mounting yards.

After the Melbourne Cup, the royals came downstairs and were given a moment to themselves where the two of them watched a race alone - albeit with a couple of dozen media photographing and filming them.

That race, the Penfolds Handicap, was won by Beg to Differ and the winning horse's jockey Joe Azzopardi kissed Queen Maxima's hand.

It was a relaxed affair for the pair at the track after earlier visits to Curtin University to look at its telescope project and Royal Dutch Shell's Australian headquarters.

The royals are in Australia to mark the 400th anniversary of explorer Dirk Hartog's landing in WA and the unveiling of Hartog's plate, which is the oldest existing relic of European exploration in Australia.

The king and queen were whisked from Ascot to the airport to fly to Canberra to meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and visit a monument marking the MH17 flight that was shot down killing 298 people, including 193 Dutch citizens.

The queen wowed crowds with her outfit for a second consecutive day.

She wore a light blue dress by Edouard Vermeulen, who runs the fashion house called Natan, and went for a sun smart wide-brimmed hat - rather than a fascinator - and gold coloured stilettos.

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