The Henley Royal Regatta was first held in 1839 and has been held annually every year since except for during the two World Wars. Originally it was held by the mayor and people of Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire and featured a fair and other attractions, but now the focus is on the amateur rowing.
In 1851, H.R.H. Prince Albert became the Regatta’s first royal patron. This relationship does not involve money but confers credibility and allows the patron to use their contacts and charisma to assist the organisation to raise funds, affect government policy or simply raise awareness. Each following reigning monarch has always accepted becoming the Regatta’s patron and that is why Henley can be called a Royal Regatta.
Non-members and the public are welcomed into the Regatta Enclosure where there is a fun and less formal atmosphere, however many of those who attend do get into the spirit by dressing up in dresses and hats for ladies and club jackets for men. It is the most well known regatta and is well worth visiting on any of the five days for some fun by the river.