Lonely Planet Writer

See the Queen’s most interesting outfits from the past 90 years on display at Buckingham Palace

An exhibit opening this month at Buckingham Palace in London will take visitors through the life Queen Elizabeth II through the clothing she has worn throughout her life and reign.

Caroline de Guitaut, Senior Curator at The Royal Collection, poses for a picture in the White Drawing Room with (L-R) an Auxiliary Territorial Service overalls and cap worn by Princess Elizabeth Whilst serving in the wartime ATS, a Pale Blue and gold evening dress by Sir Norman Hartnell, a Turquoise silk shift dress with silver floral embroidery by Hardy Amies, an Outfit and hat designed by Sir Norman Hartnell and Outfit and hat designed by Angela Kellyand.
Caroline de Guitaut, Senior Curator at The Royal Collection, poses for a picture in the White Drawing Room with (L-R) an Auxiliary Territorial Service overalls and cap worn by Princess Elizabeth Whilst serving in the wartime ATS, a Pale Blue and gold evening dress by Sir Norman Hartnell, a Turquoise silk shift dress with silver floral embroidery by Hardy Amies, an Outfit and hat designed by Sir Norman Hartnell and Outfit and hat designed by Angela Kellyand. Image by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

The exhibit, entitled Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from the Queen’s Wardrobe, will display together for the first time two dresses worn by the Queen on very significant occasions – her wedding dress from 1947, and her Coronation dress, both of which were designed by the British couturier Sir Norman Hartnell.

A Turquoise silk shift dress with silver floral embroidery by Hardy Amies (L) and a Pale Blue and gold evening dress by Sir Norman Hartnell.
A Turquoise silk shift dress with silver floral embroidery by Hardy Amies (L) and a Pale Blue and gold evening dress by Sir Norman Hartnell. Image by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Image

Fashioning a Reign will be the largest display of the Queen’s clothing, designed to show her life through the clothes she wore to state events, international tours and family celebrations.

The wedding dress, which she wore to marry the Duke of Edinburgh on 20 November, 1974, is made of ivory silk and decorated with crystals and 10,000 seed pearls. It also incorporates an impressive 15-foot train, which was “inspired by the famous Renaissance painting of Primavera by Botticelli, symbolizing rebirth and growth after the war”, according to the Royal Collection.  At the time of her wedding, there was still rationing in Britain and the then-Princess actually collected clothing coupons to pay for the dress.

An Auxiliary Territorial Service overalls and cap worn by Princess Elizabeth Whilst serving in the wartime ATS.
An Auxiliary Territorial Service overalls and cap worn by Princess Elizabeth Whilst serving in the wartime ATS. Image by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images

The display also shows off some of the Queen’s less-than-formal wear, including an Auxiliary Territorial Service overalls and cap worn by Princess Elizabeth when she was serving in the wartime ATS.

The Buckingham Palace exhibit is one of three held at the Queen’s official residences for her 90th birthday. Each focuses on a different part of her wardrobe. At the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland, there is a currently an exhibition exploring the use of tartan in her clothing, which runs until 16 October. At Windsor Castle, an exhibit will show off her evening gowns worn on official occasions as well as the fancy-dress costumes from “wartime family pantomimes at the Castle”. That exhibit will launch on 17 September and run in 8 January, 2017.