The Coronation: What colours and style can we expect from King Charles?

Posted by: House of Colour, May 03, 2023

After the exceptional (and very stylish) 70-year reign of Queen Elizabeth II, we are eagerly anticipating the Coronation of King Charles III.

With many of us witnessing the first coronation of our lifetime, it’ll be a truly historical event. A new King means new expectations, and we can’t help but wonder about the fashion and style that’ll be on display during this investiture. From the majestic robes and gowns of the monarchy to the elegant dresses of the guests, the fashions on display will surely captivate the world for centuries to come.

The event is teased to “reflect the monarch’s role today and look towards the future while being rooted in long-standing traditions and pageantry”. At the heart of the coronation ceremony is the King himself, who will be dressed in regal attire steeped in tradition and symbolism befitting his position. So, what will the regalia on the day look like? 

King Charles is seen as an activist regarding sustainability, so it comes as no surprise that he is breaking with tradition and will not wear new robes but those worn by King George IV in 1821, King George V in 1911, King George VI in 1937 and Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. The order in which will be dictated by the 14th-century manuscript Liber Regalis which was created before the coronation of King Richard II and Queen Anne of Bohemia.

He will arrive at Westminster Abbey wearing George VI's crimson red Robe of State. This will be removed and replaced by the Colobium Sindonis, a white linen shift-like tunic to symbolise purity before God, that was made by Ede & Ravenscroft and worn by King George VI.

Over the  Colobium Sindonis, Charles will wear the  Supertunica, a full-length gold coat made for King George V and worn in every coronation since 1911. The next layer consists of the Imperial Mantle (or Robe Royal), a robe-like garment crafted from gold with an eagle-shaped gold clasp. Having been tailored by John Meyer for George IV in 1821, it’s the oldest vestment used in Charles’ coronation.

It is custom that a new Girdle (or Coronation Sword Belt) and Coronation glove be made, but Charles is using those worn by the last male monarch, his grandfather George VI. During the ceremony, the sword belt, crafted by Wilkinson & Son from embroidered gold cloth with a gold buckle stamped with national emblems, will be placed around the waist over the Supertunica. And the white leather glove (or the Coronation Gauntlet) made by Dents and embroidered by Edward Stillwell & Company with national emblems will go on the right hand whilst holding the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross.

To finish, the sovereign will leave Westminster Abbey wearing George VI's purple Robe of Estate (or Imperial Robe) with the Imperial State Crown and carrying the Sceptre and the Orb.

The Coronation: What colours and style can we expect from King Charles?
The Coronation: What colours and style can we expect from King Charles?

In addition to the King's robes, the coronation ceremony will also feature a stunning array of styles from the guests. As one of the most prestigious events of the year, the coronation is sure to attract some of the most fashionable individuals from around the world, including royalty from other countries: Monaco’s Prince and Princess Albert and Charlene, Japan’s Prince and Princess Akishino and Kiko, Spain’s King Felipe and Queen Letizia.

Keeping with his breaking of tradition regarding his own attire, Charles is doing the same when it comes to the modus operandi of the guests. Previously British aristocracy peers (dukes, duchesses, and countesses) wore velvet robes and ermine collars paired with coronets to Coronations, a concept that dates back to the 15th century. However, it has been rumoured King Charles has requested that standard business dress should be worn to complement the paired-back ceremony.

Senior members of the royal family will wear suits, with the ladies wearing elegant dresses. It’s rumoured there will be no tiaras other than Camilla’s to convey the relaxed, daywear dress code. Much unlike the flowing ball gowns worn at Queen Elizabeth II’s ceremony. Unquestionably, we can expect statement millinery take its place.

Reportedly, the Queen Consort will arrive wearing a Bruce Oldfield gown and a crown made for Queen Mary from Queen Elizabeth II’s collection. For the Princess of Wales, it’s speculated she will wear Alexander McQueen. And there will no doubt be a showstopping look from the newly appointed the Duchess of Edinburgh, either by Suzannah, Victoria Beckham or Emilia Wickstead.

Of course, no coronation would be complete without a show-stopping accessory or two. And whilst there might not be tiaras, we might see brooches and finest traditional jewels. And for the men, traditional pocket squares or bold ties could be worn to complete a look.

The Coronation: What colours and style can we expect from King Charles?

One thing we can expect is a lot of colours, and that’s just from the bunting decorating the Mall!

At House of Colour, we know the importance of colour in connection with our appearance and visual communication. Royals also understand the power of colour, and there are many decisions made behind the scenes to determine the best colours for them to wear to their events. As we approach the Coronation anticipating what colours they’ll wear, we wanted to dig into the psychology and meaning behind red, white, blue, and Royal purple, which are all considered essentially British Royal colours.


First and foremost, red. With the shortest wavelength, red hits our eye first, giving it a powerful stance. It’s also associated with strong emotions like love, and it also represents confidence and strength - no wonder it’s mostly seen on the women of the Royal Family.

Being a primary colour on the British flag, it also symbolises patriotism. And throughout history, the colour has been used for garments within portraits of British monarchs to depict superiority and political strength. Our late Queen Elizabeth was painted in a red hue before her coronation and just last week, the Queen Consort wore a bold Fiona Clare tunic dress at a pre-Coronation ceremony. 

Blue, however, has the opposite effect on the brain than red, reducing tension and bringing about serenity. It’s also a colour that builds trust and reassurance. So, it’s no wonder the Royal Family have a vast catalogue of blue shades in their wardrobes that they rely on for such events as the then Kate Middleton and Prince William announcing their engagement. More recently, the Princess of Wales and the Queen Consort have been spotted in Royal Blue shades several times, the latest being the Easter Service. Not only does this build-up to the Coronation by communicating honesty and sincerity, but it offers a sense of peace after Queen Elizabeth II’s passing. King Charles often wears grey or blue suits, which is contemporarily traditional, whilst denoting authority and dependability.

White’s meaning of peace and new beginnings could not be more significant on a day like the coronation. It also signifies purity and symbolises innocence, simplicity and perfection, the latter King Charles is no doubt hoping for on the day.

The notion of Royals wearing white was re-written in 1938 after King Edward VI and Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother), delayed their trip to Paris after the Queen’s mother’s death. The political significance of the trip post-World War II meant rebuilding diplomatic relationships and led the Queen’s designer Norman Hartnell to re-design the trip’s wardrobe in white to reflect the mourning period and be suitable for the height of summer over black. A moment in history now titled the ‘White Wardrobe’.

Another historic white look from the Royals was Queen Elizabeth’s Norman Hartnell white silk gown embroidered with Commonwealth emblems. Queen Elizabeth II also always wore white to State Banquets, periodically mirrored by Kate, Camilla and Princess Anne. 

Dating back to ancient realms, purple has been used to represent royalty, wealth and power for centuries. At the time, purple dye was only afforded by rulers and aristocrats because textiles in this shade were coloured using sea molluscs only found in the Tyre region of the Mediterranean Sea and were exposed to the sun for long periods.

Establishing a sense of rarity, Queen Elizabeth I did not allow anyone outside of the close Royal family to wear this colour during the Sumptuary Laws of the Elizabethan era (1558-1603). However, with the laws outdated and thus ceasing exclusivity, all shades of purple can now be worn in public, but nowadays it still exerts luxuriousness and high quality. It’s a colour selection that the British Royal family treasures today witnessed through the Robe of Estate (the robe worn after coronation) and St Edward’s Crown. 



Guest written by: Kerrie Boachie and Leah Donaldson James

Edited by: Lisa Quick

Image Credits: Getty Images