The Queen is 90, the Queen has worn lots of frocks over the years. Fashioning a Reign takes a look at those frocks. Three exhibitions devoted to the Queen’s wardrobe have been created in Holyrood, Buckingham Palace and now Windsor Castle, each venue has different outfits on display. At Windsor the semi-state apartments show the outfits off to their best advantage. The rooms were created for George IV: think Brighton Pavilion but grander.
Three green dresses stand in the Green Drawing Room, the fabrics of room and clothes bringing out the best in each other. In the middle is a white dress with green straps and a dramatic fold of green falling down the back. This was worn on a state visit to Pakistan, the green is the green of Pakistan and complemented the Order of Pakistan that was worn with it. Nothing as “shouty” as wearing the flag but a subtle compliment to her hosts nevertheless.
George VI and his Queen Elizabeth look down on the Crimson Drawing Room from their full length coronation portraits. Between the two of them, their daughter’s frock shimmers beneath the chandeliers under which they were first worn. Countless tiny beads have been embroidered onto the waist of the dress, the signature look created by Norman Hartnell. Seeing the workmanship and intricate detail up close is wonderful.
Riding horses is something that the Queen loves to do. It is here at Windsor that she gets to ride most of all so it is fitting that we see her riding outfits. Jodhpurs worn so often that they have a small tear in the leg. They stand next to the Queen’s Robes of the Garter, all deep blue velvet and feathers.
“Mum I need to dress up as a donkey/cat/Horrid Henry”, will be a familiar refrain to Mothers of small children. Whilst most of us cobble together a papier-mâché camel hump or a deploy a tea towel as a shepherd’s headdress, the Queen had an altogether more lavish costume for a production of Aladdin that she and Princess Margaret put on during the war at Windsor Castle. Old curtains were used for the costumes on display, but something makes me think that more than 24 hours’ notice was given of the need for the outfit!
If you have the slightest interest in clothes, seeing the Queen’s frocks up close and personal is brilliant. Entrance to the exhibition is included in the ticket to see the rest of the Castle. As with all Royal Collection locations the ticket is valid for a year, just make sure you have it stamped on the way out.
FASHIONING A REIGN: 90 YEARS OF FASHION FROM THE QUEENS WARDROBE
Entry is included in the ticket to Windsor Castle
Admission: Adult £20, Family £51, concessions available.
Open: March-October – daily 9.30am-5.30pm, November – February daily 9.45am-4.15pm