THE poet William Butler Yeats once wrote, "To be born woman is to labour to be beautiful."
His lines were never so apt as at Royal Ascot yesterday, where rain and wind wreaked havoc on the elegant and coiffeured.
Just as on the previous day -- Ladies' Day -- Ascot was awash with umbrellas again yesterday, as exquisite hats and hairdos were reduced to straw by merciless squalls.
The going was so soft it prompted a special weather alert, as rainy conditions greeted racegoers arriving at Royal Ascot.
Stormy weather is causing disruption to sporting and cultural events across Britain, including the Olympic torch relay.
The torch had to be relit in Blackpool after it was put out by the heavy rain, the Isle of Wight Festival site was waterlogged and England's cricket match against the West Indies was called off.
Forecasters say heavy rain is affecting northern England, Northern Ireland, north Wales and south-west Scotland.
The Environment Agency has issued six flood warnings in Lancashire.
The Met Office has an amber "be prepared" warning in place in England for the North West, East Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands, and in north-east Northern Ireland, north Wales, south-west Scotland, Lothian Borders, Strathclyde, Central, and Tayside and Fife.
It has also warned of severe conditions for parts of Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Lancashire. Up to 50-60mm (2-2.4in) of rainfall is expected, and in some places that could rise to 100mm (4in).