Dressing like a Queen

HRH Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee seems a good time to reflect on her style over the many years of changing fashion and in the context of what was appropriate for any given occasion. As a young Princess in her 20s, Princess Elizabeth followed her Mother’s choice of designer – Norman Hartnell who, in 1947, designed her wedding dress.

Queen Elizabeth II Wedding Gown designed by Norman Hartnell Source: Google

Following on in 1953 Hartnell designed The Queen’s Coronation Gown. Similar in design of the neckline and skirt, but steeped in meaning and symbolism, the gown features embroidery in celebration of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries.

Queen Elizabeth II Royal Coronation Grown Source: Royal Collection Trust

The Queen’s gowns were influenced by French couture featuring full skirts nipped in at the waist. Intricate embellishments of pearls, crystals and beads were applied to dazzle at banquets and on tours. Add a tiara and fur and The Queen was dressed to impress!

Queen Elizabeth II Source: BBC

The Queen’s early years on the throne were defined by pieces created by court dressers, Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies. However, since 1992 her senior dresser and close confidante has been Angela Kelly who has styled The Queen with meticulous planning and ease.

Behind the Scenes: The Queen and Angela Kelly Source: The Telegraph

When she is on tour the styles and colours are chosen to be sympathetic to the culture of the country she is visiting.

The Queen with President George Bush at the White House in 2007. Black lace on the hat matches the collar and cuffs Source: Public News Time

For the first visit of a reigning Monarch to Ireland in a century, The Queen’s gown for the dinner featured silk shamrocks and a sparkling Celtic harp made of crystals.

Queen Elizabeth speaks at State dinner Saint Patrick’s Hall Dubline Castle 2011
Image: Arthur Edwards – Pool/Getty Images

During her reign The Queen has become famous for wearing vibrant colours so she can be easily seen. Her outfits are also designed to communicate – to show respect, stability and convey a sense of power.

Practicality plays a role in all aspects of her wardrobe. The Queen must feel comfortable when sitting for long periods, be able to get in and out of a car with ease and be able to negotiate stairs with confidence.

Queen Elizabeth II Source: The Guardian

The lengths of her dresses vary from just below the knee or mid calf. Skirts often flare out from the knee or hip for easy movement.

Perhaps the most newsworthy outfit The Queen has worn was for the London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony and her ‘date’ with James Bond – the peach coloured crystal and lace cocktail dress. The colour peach was chosen because it could not be associated with any participating nations. The identical dress for the stuntman who leapt from the helicopter had matching bloomers for ‘modesty in the air’.

‘Good evening Mr Bond’ Daniel Craig and The Queen filming for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games Image: Twitter

In 2020 Princess Beatrice wore a 1960s gown belonging to The Queen that was designed by Norman Hartnell and slightly altered for her big day. Princess Beatrice also proudly wore the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara, worn by Queen Elizabeth at her own wedding in 1947.

The Queen’s original gown was modified somewhat to suit Beatrice’s wedding day.

Accessories have played an important part in her style, from the Launer handbags, Hermes scarves, umbrellas and staple black or white gloves, to her vast collection of heirloom brooches and jewellery that is often selected for the history attached.

Royal dressing involves special demands but as with her reign The Queen has moved with the times whilst establishing a signature style that is all her own.

“A look at Queen Elizabeth II Style” Click here