It has been ages since I’ve written a Royal themed post. Several of you have inquired if I was still going to write them.
I did cover the Queen’s 9oth birthday on both Instagram and Facebook. But I will try to be better about posts here. The Royal themed posts always require a great deal of historical research. Such research requires an investment of time that I don’t seem to have as I enter into my last year in college.
But this topic was SO good ~ The Queen AND fashion!
Fashioning A Reign ~ 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe.
On the occasion of the Queen’s 90th birthday, April 21, 2016, a three part exhibit opened at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh. It will run through October 16, 2016.
The second exhibit will occur with the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace on July 23 and will run through October 2, 2016.
The third exhibit will open at Windsor Castle on September 17 and will run through January 8, 2017.
A Mantle, Hat and Insignia of the Order of the Thistle as worn by Her Majesty, The Queen.
The collection showcases some of traditional robes worn by the Queen at the Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle. This ceremony honors the men and women who have held public office or who have significantly contributed to national life. It is second only in precedence to the Order of the Garter and is the highest honor one can be bestowed in Scotland.
I am absolutely beside myself that I cannot view this amazing collection in person. It is the first time in history that both the Queen’s wedding gown and her coronation gown will be shown together.
Let us begin with the Queen’s wedding gown.
The Queen married Prince Philip on November 20, 1947. Although World War II had ended in 1945 the country was in the process of recovering from the effects of the war. The use of rationing coupons was still in affect and there was no exception for Princess Elizabeth. She had to collect coupons to purchase the fabric and materials needed for her gown. The country responded with thousands of loyal citizens sending in their coupons to assist her.
The result was a gown made of ivory silk that was decorated with sparkling crystals and 10,000 seed pearls, The dress was designed by Royal family favorite Sir Norman Hartnell.
Hartnell secretly added an extra four-leaf shamrock on the left side of the skirt for good luck, so that Her Majesty’s hand could rest upon it during the ceremony.
The gown incorporated a 15 foot (4.6m) train that featured a star-pattern.
It was woven in Braintree in Essex and was inspired by the famous Renaissance painting of “Primavera” also known as the “Allegory of Spring” by Botticelli, circa 1482, which symbolized rebirth and growth after the war.
The second most recognizable gown is the Queen’s coronation gown.
The gown was ordered in October of 1952 for the Queen’s coronation on June 2, 1953. It was also designed by Sir Norman Hartnell. It was made of white satin made from fibers from the silk farm at Lullingstone Castle. It featured short sleeves, a heart-shaped neckline and tapering waistline. The full skirt extended in a slight train at the back.
It is easy to see why the dress took eight months to create due to the intricate research required as well as the elaborate design and workmanship of the dress.
The dress featured floral emblems of the United Kingdom as well as the other Commonwealth of Nations. This included the English Tudor Rose, the Scottish thistle, Welsh leek, Irish shamrock, Canadian maple leaf, Australian wattle, New Zealand silver fern among many others.
The dress required the efforts of at least three dressmakers, six embroiderers, as well as the Royal School of Needlework to create the gown and it’s embroidery some of which was worked in gold bullion thread and was accented with seed pearls and crystals.
The Queen so loved the gown that she wore it to six more events. I can’t blame her.
Her official coronation portrait was taken by esteemed photographer Sir Cecil Beaton.
In 1960 when the Queen’s sister, Princess Margaret, married Mr. Antony Armstrong-Jones, Lord Snowdon, the Queen wore a turquoise-blue dress made of silk taffeta, guipure lace and silk tulle. It had a matching bolero jacket. All were created by Sir Norman Hartnell.
With such a tiny waist it is hard to believe that her third child, Prince Andrew, had been born earlier that year.
The Queen always pays close attention to her accessories as well. The hat she wore to the wedding was topped by roses as a nod to Princess Margaret Rose.
Along with the two strands of pearls the Queen wore a diamond brooch she had inherited in 1953 from Queen Mary.
Because so many of you always want to know about the jewels, let’s talk about the broach. The “ True Lovers Knot” is the largest of the bow brooches worn by the Queen. The diamond brooch was originally acquired by Queen Mary from Garrard in 1932.
Given it’s large size the Queen generally wears this brooch to evening events, important occasions, and to hold poppies on Remembrance Day.
The Queen, a romantic at heart, selected this brooch to also wear to the wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton to celebrate their “true love”.
Her Majesty, The Queen is of course rarely seen in public without a hat. The exhibit features quite a few examples of millinery she has worn over the years.
Left -Philip Somerville, Straw, silk. Worn for a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, Cyprus, 1993, center - Philip Somerville, Straw, grosgrain ribbon, c.1970, right Philip Somerville, Straw, silk. Worn for a visit to Singapore, 1989
My favorites are of course the evening gowns she wore for state occasions. This gown was worn during the State Visit of King Olav of Norway to Scotland in October 1962.
The magnificent evening gown, once again a Hartnel creation, is made of pale blue silk faille. It has short sleeves and a scooped neckline. It features a border of white silk faille richly embroidered with white bugle beads, flower-shaped beads, sequins, circular beads, crystals and diamante in a design of feathers.
The Queen wore the dress to a gala performance of “Rob Roy” at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh during the State Visit of King Olav of Norway to Scotland in October 1962.
Each collection will feature gowns and clothing that directly correlate to where the exhibit is held. For example dresses and clothing which feature tartan accents will be showcased at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, Scotland.
The tradition of wearing tartan in Scotland goes back to around 1538 and originated in the Highlands. At one time tartan was banned but later championed by Queen Victoria.
Her husband, Prince Albert, designed the famous Balmoral tartan in the 1850’s. To this day the Balmoral tartan can only be worn with the Queen's permission.
Pure perfection for Tartan Tuesday!
For this reason the exhibition will also feature a woven silk-velvet tartan dress worn by Queen Victoria in 1835.
Sir Norman Hartnell created this evening dress of embroidered duchesse satin worn by the Queen at the Ghillies Ball at Balmoral Castle in 1971. It featured a sash of Royal Stewart tartan.
The Ghillies Ball was first introduced by Queen Victoria in 1852. The ball is given for neighbors, estate and castle staff while Her Majesty is in residence. Traditionally the gentlemen of the Royal Family wear Highland dress, to include kilts, while royal ladies wear long evening dresses with Royal Stewart tartan sashes.
The name of the ball, ghillie, is the word for a type of shoe. The shoe laces along the instep and has no tongue. It is used especially for Scottish country dancing. They are worn by both men and women.
On July 1, 1999, for the official opening of the Scottish Parliament, Her Majesty wore a purple coat made of a silk-wool blend with a green silk-crepe and lace dress made by Sandra Murray. It was accessorized with a purple and green Isle of Skye tartan woven on the Island of Lewis.
For the walk about the Queen held the shawl in place with a broach, and let it cascade over her left shoulder.
The matching hat, by milliner Philip Somerville, was trimmed with a bow and dark green feathers.
Most charming of all will probably be the items worn by Her Majesty when she was young.
A few of the fancy dress costumes that were worn by the young Princess Elizabeth will be on display at Windsor Castle.
She and Princess Margaret would put on family pantomimes during their childhood. They were often joined by their Girl Guide (Girl Scouts) comrades who took on accompanying roles.
As children Princess Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret, wore everyday clothing typical of the era. For official engagements in which they would accompany their parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, they would often wear coordinating dresses, coat and hats.
Straw bonnet made by Smith & Co of Sloane Street London in 1934.
Elizabeth wore the coat on the left for an official visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in 1937.
The Queen Mother, Elizabeth, is on the left and King George is on the far right.
For those lucky enough to be in the United Kingdom while the three exhibits are running you can find out additional details and book tickets HERE.