To celebrate 60 years of reign, in 2012, Pantone dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II a fun daisy-chain sample in which every color of dress she was seen wearing was represented, with the catalog number of the nuance and the reference date on which it had been seen on the sovereign. The queen’s colorful dresses are her trademark, one of the many features that have made her image iconic, and no one would ever think that it is not her passion. In reality, this is not the case. Discovering it is perhaps a bit of a shock, but the people close to her know that if it depended on her she would have worn almost only blue clothes, her favorite color, or in any case sober and classic colors and models of modern and practical cut, the garments in which she indulges when she is in private and on vacation, even now that she is a certain age. To have proof of this, just look at his photos before the accession to the throne. Elizabeth often wore trousers, very white, persimmon and beige, something pastel, and she adored blue. The sudden change of gear took place sometime after the television coronation, the first in history when the impressive number of viewers – 20 million for an era in which only a few had TV -, made the royal family aware of how much the image had become an important element to take care of and how interested people were in that very young woman yet so powerful. And if the TV was still in black and white, the photos that came out in the newspapers were colorful. The look of the sovereign, curated over the years by various figures among which the most famous are the designer, Norman Hartnell, until 1979, and Angela Kelly, current personal manager of Her Royal Majesty’s wardrobe, has since followed the criteria dictated by the sense of duty that has become part of the protocol. As we know, there are some strict rules that the sovereign respects, such as the length of the skirts never above the knee, and no necklines (the most low-cut dress of her life she wore in Malta in 1951). Max Mumby/Indigo © – Getty Images Behind Queen Elizabeth’s choice to wear only colorful clothes there is a precise reason for courtesy and diplomacy.
Sali Hughes, the Welsh journalist and author of the book The Queen. Queen Elizabeth’s color diary, explains that the sovereign’s clothes must be decent but have a reasonable budget, out of respect for taxpayers. “Although the queen has a very luxurious and precious wardrobe, she always had to reconcile style with the impression of remaining humble and sensitive towards her subordinates,” says the journalist. But to all these rules is added one that the queen has personally agreed with her stylists, and that has also been adopted by the other women in the family in crowded events: visibility. According to Sali Hughes, when the young queen became very popular she agreed with her masters of ceremonies that it was her duty to be perfectly recognizable in the crowd around her, compared to the people who waited hours in the rain and the cold behind the barriers just to see her. This was also confirmed by Sophia of Wessex, the wife of Prince Edward, Elizabeth’s favorite daughter-in-law: “The Queen wants all those people to come home saying ‘I saw her!’, if only a little piece,” the Countess said in an interview for the documentary The Queen at 90. That is why the queen is not dressed in “pastel” colors, as someone mistakenly states: the queen is definitely “signage”, she always presents herself in public as if above her there was a large arrow indicating “yes, it’s me and I’m here”. For decades, therefore, we have seen Elizabeth II almost always with a very bright solid color suit that makes her unmistakable in any shot or photo.
Yet there was a chance when she managed to even beat herself. Every year British TV airs a charity show, the Royal Variety Performance in Birmingham, of which the Queen holds the patronage. In the November 29, 1999 edition, Elizabeth showed up with what was nicknamed The Arlequin Dress, which more than a sartorial creation looked like an explosion of coloring sequins. It was composed of a skirt long up to the floor with bands of different shades of yellow, from lemon to gold, and a top embroidered always in pink, blue, green, orange, purple, and gold diamond sequins. The queen had combined this glittering feast with silver-colored shoes and a gold bag. He also wore a parure of diamonds, not too discreet. Some called it the most kitschy look ever seen on a queen, especially on that queen. But for a television appearance, Queen Elizabeth’s harlequin dress was perfect, and it was so bright and fun that it allowed her to achieve her goal: to be unmistakably unmistakable.
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