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Queen’s Platinum Jubilee: Style secrets of Queen Elizabeth II’s wardrobe

A royal fashion expert reveals some surprising things about the Queen’s fashion.

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The Queen during a visit to Japan in 1975

The Queen during a visit to Japan in 1975

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Bethan Holt

Bethan Holt

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The Queen at Ascot in 2015

The Queen at Ascot in 2015

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The Queen at the Royal Windsor Horse show in 2010

The Queen at the Royal Windsor Horse show in 2010

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The Queen: 70 years of Majestic Style by Bethan Holt

The Queen: 70 years of Majestic Style by Bethan Holt

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The Queen during a visit to Tonga in 1953

The Queen during a visit to Tonga in 1953

Press Association Images

The Queen rides at Balmorral in 2020

The Queen rides at Balmorral in 2020

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The Queen in her carriage as she heads to Ascot in 2019

The Queen in her carriage as she heads to Ascot in 2019

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Queen Elizabeth II drives from Buckingham Palace to Epsom in 1958

Queen Elizabeth II drives from Buckingham Palace to Epsom in 1958

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Queen walks with a stick as she leaves the King Edward VII Hospital in 2003.

Queen walks with a stick as she leaves the King Edward VII Hospital in 2003.

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The Queen during a visit to Northern Ireland to mark her 90th birthday in 2016

The Queen during a visit to Northern Ireland to mark her 90th birthday in 2016

Press Association Images

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The Queen during a visit to Japan in 1975

Many of us know the Queen often wears eye-catching colours so she’ll stand out from the crowd during public appearances.

But there’s a lot more to Her Majesty’s fashion choices than just bright frock coats and matching hats, as Bethan Holt discovered while researching her latest book, The Queen: 70 years Of Majestic Style.

Holt shares some of the surprising facts she learned about the monarch’s wardrobe…

She’s always been a style influencer

During her younger days, the Queen was as much of a fashion icon as the Duchess of Cambridge is today.

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The Queen during a visit to Tonga in 1953

The Queen during a visit to Tonga in 1953

Press Association Images

The Queen during a visit to Tonga in 1953

“I found throughout her life, the Queen has had the power to influence trends,” Holt says. “As a baby, her mother’s preference for dressing her in cotton rather than wool impacted trends.”

While most of her clothes are bespoke, during the early years of her reign she sometimes donned ready-to-wear dresses by British label Horrockses while on foreign tours. Holt explains: “She allowed the company to sell the same dresses she wore, which was a gift for the fashion pages.”

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And she’s continued to set trends, with Holt saying: “Even today, her colour choices often spark a rise in interest – sales of lime green rose by 134% after she wore the shade for her 90th birthday celebrations in 2016.”

Her handbag is specially adapted for her

British leather brand Launer (launer.com) has a Royal Warrant, and makes the Queen’s trademark handbags to her specific requirements.

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The Queen at Ascot in 2015

The Queen at Ascot in 2015

Press Association Images

The Queen at Ascot in 2015

“They have an extra-long 16-inch strap so they hang comfortably from her arm, they are lined in silk rather than suede, and over the past eight or nine years, they have been modified to be as light as possible for Her Majesty to carry,” Holt says. “Contrary to popular belief, she doesn’t own 200 styles – just a select few in different styles and neutral colours.”

She’s very particular about her silk scarves

When she isn’t wearing a formal hat, the Queen protects her hair with a neatly tied silk scarf, many of which are from Hermès. But on one occasion, Launer gifted her two scarves.

“Gerald Bodmer, the owner of Launer, told me he was given very specific instructions about the gift the Queen would like as a birthday present,” Holt recalls.

Bodmer was told she’d like a square floral silk scarf measuring 34-inches, and received a thank you from a lady-in-waiting when he sent over a pair of scarves in the requisite size and print.

She often wears trousers in private

“The Queen has only been pictured wearing trousers in public a handful of times throughout her reign,” Holt says. “One such moment came in 2003 as she was leaving hospital following a knee operation.”

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Queen walks with a stick as she leaves the King Edward VII Hospital in 2003.

Queen walks with a stick as she leaves the King Edward VII Hospital in 2003.

Press Association Images

Queen walks with a stick as she leaves the King Edward VII Hospital in 2003.

Following the appearance, the tailor behind the trousers, Peter Enrione, revealed he had in fact made countless pairs of trousers for the Queen over the years. Holt adds: “While seeing her wear them in public might have caused a furore, they’re a central part of her private wardrobe.”

She’s her own style muse

The Queen’s sartorial archive is an inspiration to designers today.

“Rachel Trevor-Morgan, the Queen’s milliner, told me she continues to be inspired by Her Majesty’s 1950s style for the hats she makes for her now,” Holt says.

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The Queen in her carriage as she heads to Ascot in 2019

The Queen in her carriage as she heads to Ascot in 2019

Press Association Images

The Queen in her carriage as she heads to Ascot in 2019

She’s the original diplomatic dresser

Throughout her reign, the Queen has made numerous diplomatic statements with her clothes.

“In the 1950s, Norman Hartnell created special gowns incorporating meaningful symbols, whether it was wattle embellishments in Australia, or bees (the symbol of Napoleon) in France,” Holt explains. “Over the years, she’s worn cherry blossom in Japan, modest clothing in Saudi Arabia and red and white in Canada.”

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The Queen during a visit to Northern Ireland to mark her 90th birthday in 2016

The Queen during a visit to Northern Ireland to mark her 90th birthday in 2016

Press Association Images

The Queen during a visit to Northern Ireland to mark her 90th birthday in 2016

The Queen: 70 years Of Majestic Style by Bethan Holt is published in hardback by Ryland Peters & Small, £18.99, available now


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