The Coronation: A look back on who wore what
Posted by: House of Colour, May 09, 2023
King Charles III might have wanted a toned-down Coronation compared to Queen Elizabeth II’s, but it was still an occasion on a grand scale.
The gilded carriages, the trailing velvet robes, the bejewelled crowns – all a spectacular sight on a somewhat overcast day. London was coloured with uniforms from the military, the 2000 strong guests and the red, white and blue flyover.
It was an investiture with all the glitz, glamour and symbolism we expected, so let’s break down the fashions from the day.
The layers of regalia analysed in our last post were on full display, mainly from the King himself. Departing Westminster Abbey after a two-hour ceremony, Charles wore The Robe of Estate, a purple silk velvet robe worn by George VI at his coronation in 1937, and The Imperial State Crown whilst holding the Sovereign’s Orb and Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross. Under this, he wore the purple satin Coronation Tunic especially made for the event by royal robe makers Ede and Ravenscroft.
Although purple is associated with royalty, it was the colour white that became the colour theme of Charles’ coronation. Royals have worn white to coronations since the age of Queen Victoria in the 19th century, and we recently ventured pre-Coronation how the colour white means new beginnings and a blank canvas, so it came as no surprise it played a heavily significant role. The was, after all, the start of a new reign. The new Carolean era.
Under the crimson velvet Robe of State (originally made for Queen Elizabeth II in 1953), our new Queen wore a floor-length pearly white V-neck coat gown with bracelet-length sleeves by couturier Bruce Oldfield embroidered with ornate garlands of British wildflowers. She departed Westminster Abbey wearing a new purple velvet Robe of Estate and Queen Mary's crown from 1911.
To complement Camilla, Fiona Clare designed ivory dresses for Her Majesty's Companions, her sister Annabel Elliot and close friend The Marchioness of Lansdowne.
Concealed by her deep blue Royal Victorian Order mantle, the Princess of Wales wore a white silk crepe Alexander McQueen gown with silver bullion and threadwork embroidery featuring motifs to represent each of the four nations. Completing her look was the outstanding floral headpiece designed in collaboration between McQueen and milliner Jess Collett. And for a little more razzmatazz, she wore Queen Elizabeth II’s George VI Festoon Necklace. Little Princess Charlotte copied her mother by wearing an ivory silk crepe Alexander McQueen dress with a matching cape.
There was plenty of detail in Prince William’s outfit too. He wore a navy-blue silk velvet Order of the Garter mantle over his red Welsh Guards ceremonial uniform, under which he wore blue-black wool barathea leg garments.
Being the King’s Page of Honour, Prince George looked the part in his scarlet tunic decorated with gold lace trim and blue velvet cuffs with an ivory silk satin waistcoat and wool trousers. These uniforms were originally made during the reign of Elizabeth II but were updated for the coronation.
The youngest Wales sibling, Louis, wore a Hainsworth Garter Blue Doeskin Tunic, made by bespoke Savile Row tailors Dege and Skinner, that featured lacework embellishment on the collar, cuffs and fronts. His leg garment was black, complete with a Garter Blue stripe.
Sophie, the new Duchess of Edinburgh, harmonised the other royal ladies in a white floor-length embroidered gown by Suzannah London, a Jane Taylor headpiece and Royal Victorian Order Mantle. Whilst her daughter, Lady Louise, embraced the laid-back dress code in a floral Suzannah London dress.
The senior working royals delivered on the fashion front, and so too did the guests. With the most memorable look of all deemed to be Penny Mordaunt’s. She not only made history by being the first woman to present the Jewelled Sword of Offering to a British Monarch, but she did so in an outstanding teal Safiyaa gown and Jane Taylor headband to match, both of which are embroidered with a fern motif by the atelier Hand & Lock.
The Middletons arrived in style with Kate’s mother, Carol, wearing an alpine blue Catherine Walker dress coat, whilst sister Pippa wore a bespoke coat dress by Claire Mischevani in a sorbet lemon shade. Katy Perry wore a custom Vivienne Westwood suit in pastel lilac with leather gloves and Westwood’s iconic pearl necklace designed to “exude baroque grandeur.”
There was plenty of colour from European royals, with Princess Mary of Denmark in a royal purple Soren Le Schmidt coat dress and Queen Letizia of Spain channelling Barbiecore in a top-to-toe pink skirt suit by Carolina Herrera.
Whilst the Sumptuary Laws of the Elizabethan era are no longer in place, the sumptuousness of dress in order to display wealth and status was on full display during the coronation. There was an extravagance of distinctions between not only the levels of society, but those of the royal family to send a sartorial message to the world of a new reign. And it is one we will celebrate for years to come.