It’s safe to say that the royal family leaves nothing to chance or whim. Everything about them is considered, even down to their wardrobes. But through their methodical approach to dressing, members of the monarchy can conceal messages within their outfits. Here we take a look at 20 occasions when the royals let their clothes do all the talking.
20. The Queen, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle’s brown moment
In January 2020 three of the royal’s most prominent ladies were spotted stepping out in muted tones of brown and beige. Yes, Meghan wore the understated hues on a visit to Canada House in London with Harry. Meanwhile, Kate wrapped up in a stylish camel coat while launching her new early childhood project.
However, it was the Queen – normally known for bright colors – that caused the biggest stir when she wore a brown coat and hat combo to church on January 12. With that in mind, the ladies’ brown moment was viewed as a sign of their unity. Interestingly, it came at a difficult time for the family, just after the Sussexes announced they were stepping back from royal life.
19. The Queen in powder blue at the 2020 Commonwealth Service
Clearly, the royals are no strangers to sending messages through their choice of clothes or – more specifically colors. So, when Queen Elizabeth attended the annual Commonwealth Day Service in March 2020 in a beautiful powder blue suit, fashion commentators were eager to get to the bottom of its meaning.
And it turns out that powder blue represents understanding, healing and freedom. As a result, it was viewed as a sign of the monarchy’s openness as it moves forward with the Commonwealth. Speaking at the service, the Queen described the collection of 54 countries, which represents 2.4 billion people, as a “worldwide family” and spoke of their “common future.”
18. Harry’s nods to The Queen and Meghan
The Commonwealth Service of 2020 marked the Sussexes’ final official outing as senior royals. While Meghan turned heads in emerald green – said to be symbolic of renewal – Harry made subtle nods to his two greatest influences in life, his wife and the monarchy. So let’s find out how.
Well, Harry made a noticeable tribute to the Queen choosing a powder blue tie that perfectly matched his grandma’s outfit. However, beady-eyed observers noted that Harry’s jacket was lined in a green fabric that was practically identical to Meghan’s dress. As a result, it was speculated that the prince’s outfit symbolized his attempt to bridge these two major aspects of his life.
17. Kate and William unite in burgundy
It seems that the Commonwealth Service of 2020 was saturated with hidden meanings concealed within the royals’ sartorial choices. William and Kate were also among the attendees to give a very clear message through their outfits. That’s because the Cambridges both wore burgundy, which is said to symbolize dignity, warmth and sophistication.
However, the color of Kate’s outfit wasn’t the only significant thing about it. That’s because the Duchess of Cambridge had worn the beautiful coat before, namely at the royal Christmas Day service in 2018. That event was also attended by the Sussexes. As such, Kate’s clothing was seen as a sign of her and William’s unbreakable bond with Harry and Meghan.
16. The Queen’s love of bold colors
If you regularly follow the royals, you may be aware that the Queen tends to favor bright colors. In fact, vibrant hues, elegant hats and black handbags have all become part of the monarch’s signature style over the years. However, her love for bold shades isn’t merely a reflection of her clothing taste, but a very deliberate choice.
In the 2016 documentary The Queen at 90, the monarch’s daughter-in-law Sophie, Countess of Wessex, revealed that she wears bold colors in order to stand out. Sophie explained, “Don’t forget that when she turns up somewhere, the crowds are two, three, four, 10, 15 deep, and someone wants to be able to say they saw a bit of the Queen’s hat as she went past.”
15. Archie’s shawl
The Sussexes welcomed their first child, Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor on May 6, 2019. However, it wasn’t until two days later that the world got their first glimpse of the newest royal when Harry and Meghan posed with their baby at Windsor Castle. And once again Archie’s outfit was brimming with significance.
When Harry and Meghan introduced Archie to the world, they chose to wrap him in a white shawl made by the British firm G.H.Hurt & Son. The luxury knit company is a favorite among royal parents, having also made shawls for Prince Charles and Prince William when they were babies. As a result, Archie’s introduction simply continued the tradition.
14. Kate’s Canadian tribute
On a trip to Canada in 2011, the Duchess of Cambridge attended an event at Calgary Zoo. And in what could be seen as a mark of respect for her hosts, she wore a red outfit, in honor of one of Canada’s national colors. What’s more, she also added a maple leaf broach to her ensemble, in another nod to the country.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge returned to Canada once again in 2016. This time they had their children Prince George and Princess Charlotte in tow. And as the young family touched down in Victoria, British Columbia, Kate was once again seen wearing her maple broach.
13. Harry’s wedding garb
While many grooms opt to wear a traditional tuxedo on their wedding day, Prince Harry wanted to pay tribute to his military days when marrying Meghan in May 2018. To do so, he donned a uniform and wore the ribbons he earned while serving his county, rather than an aiguillette, which denotes honor.
Harry served in the British Army for ten years, during which he undertook two tours of Afghanistan. To this day, the prince continues to support veterans and servicemen, most noticeably with his work in the Invictus Games. As a result, it’s hardly surprising that Harry wanted to honor the military on his big day.
12. The Queen’s wedding dress
Back when Queen Elizabeth tied the knot with Prince Philip in November 1947, Britain was still recovering from World War II. Rationing was still in place throughout the nation and even applied to the royals. As a result, the then Princess Elizabeth had to use clothing coupons in order to buy her dress.
Given that things were still hard in the United Kingdom, it was decided that Elizabeth’s dress should be a sign of hope. As a result, the future monarch’s gown was embroidered with flowers, to symbolize the renewal of the country following the war. Designer Norman Hartnell was inspired by the Botticelli masterpiece Primavera, which represents the turn of spring.
11. Meghan’s veil
Like the Queen before her, the Duchess of Sussex chose to inject her stunning wedding outfit with some symbolism. And as the monarch had done, Meghan picked a floral motif to send out a subtle message of unity. To communicate togetherness, she used the design of her stunning 16-foot-long veil.
It was later revealed that Meghan had requested all 53 flowers representing the respective Commonwealth countries to be embroidered onto her veil. The task was given to Claire Waight Keller, the artistic director of the Givenchy fashion house. Under her lead, seamstresses spent hundreds of hours creating the veil, washing their hands every half-hour to ensure it remained pristine.
10. Sarah Ferguson’s wedding outfit
When Sarah Ferguson joined the royal family by marrying Prince Andrew in 1986, she ensured her outfit was laden with meaning. Yes, her dress was embellished with thistles and bees, in a nod to her coat of arms. Meanwhile, her veil featured waves and anchors, in honor of her groom’s role as a Royal Navy officer.
Furthermore, Fergie is remembered for wearing a headdress of blooms at her nuptials. However, after signing her marriage certificate she swapped it for the studding York tiara, which had been commissioned by the Queen for the wedding. The change of headwear was said to symbolize Sarah becoming part of the royal family.
9. Kate’s eagle dress
As we’ve mentioned, Kate is a fan of incorporating national colors and symbols into her outfits while on royal tours. And during a three-day trip to Germany in 2017 the Duchess of Cambridge wowed in a dress that featured a not-so-subtle hint to the European nation that was hosting her.
That’s because, when attending an event at Berlin’s Claerchen’s Ballhaus, Kate sported a gown emblazoned with an eagle print. Eagles just so happen to be the national bird of Germany. Furthermore, the head-turning dress was made by a German designer in another tribute to the nation.
8. The shamrock pin
In a similar way Kate wore her eagle dress in Germany, she’s also been known to sport an official emblem of Ireland when on visits to The Emerald Isle. In fact, the shamrock pin has become a familiar part of the Duchess’ look when going on any Irish visit. However, it doesn’t actually belong to her.
In fact, the Irish Guards, a British Army regiment, are responsible for loaning out the pin. As a result, only those royals that have links to the regiment, who are charged with guarding members of the monarchy, get to wear it. The tradition goes back, it’s believed, to the beginning of the 20th century, with Queen Alexandra or her daughter-in-law Princess Mary.
7. The Spencer tiara
Even before Diana joined the royal family, she knew what it was like to be part of a group of nobles. That’s because she was a member of the Spencer family, which was itself awash with titles. Diana herself was a Lady, while her parents were known as Viscount and Viscountess Althorp.
Given her impressive lineage – which included the former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill – Diana was sure to honor her family on her 1981 wedding day. To do so, she wore the Spencer tiara, which had been given to her grandmother in 1919. It later became a tradition for female members of the family to marry in the headpiece.
6. Diana’s revenge wardrobe
As we know, Diana’s marriage to Prince Charles was not to last. The couple eventually divorced in August 1996 after a long separation. Throughout their union, there were claims of infidelity on both sides. However, in 1994 Charles admitted that he’d had an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles. And on that very same night, Diana stepped out in the ultimate revenge outfit.
Attending the 1994 Serpentine Gallery summer party, Diana turned up the glam in a form-fitting little black dress (LBD) designed by Christina Stambolian. Following her divorce from Charles, Diana seemed to express her newfound freedom through a series of daring fashion choices. Out were the bold colors and power dressing of the 1980s in favor of a more minimalistic wardrobe.
5. Kate’s poppy dress
Clearly, Diana’s untimely death at 36 had a massive impact on those who loved her, in particular sons William and Harry. But in the years since their mother’s passing, the two brothers found ways to honor her memory. And they have continued to do so even as they have become parents themselves.
Yes, in 2017, to mark the 20th anniversary of Diana’s death, the Duchess of Cambridge joined William and Harry in paying their respects to their late mother. And in part of her tribute, Kate wore a classic tea-style dress with a floral print. The outfit featured a bow neckline, a favorite of Diana’s, while the poppy pattern was seen as a sign of remembrance since that’s what the flower signifies in the United Kingdom.
4. Kate’s maternity wear tributes to Diana
When the Cambridges first emerged from hospital with the newly-born Prince George in 2013, Kate’s choice of outfit didn’t go unnoticed. That’s because the polka-dot dress she wore was remarkably similar to the one Diana donned after Prince William’s birth 30 years prior. And the comparisons certainly didn’t end there.
You see, after Kate gave birth to her third child, Prince Louis in April 2018, her outfit also had Diana vibes. This time, her red number with white accents resembled the outfit Diana had worn when she had Prince Harry. Furthermore, the color scheme may have had extra meaning, since Louis was born on St. George’s Day, which honors England’s patron saint.
3. Diana’s clutch bags
As we’ve covered, Diana’s style became quite a bit more daring following her divorce from Prince Charles. And as part of the princess’ new look, she favored some more revealing outfits, particularly around the cleavage. However, as one of the most photographed women in the world, Diana had to be careful not to flash more flesh than she anticipated.
Getting in and out of cars was particularly tricky when wearing a low-cut outfit, it would seem. So in order to maintain her modesty, Diana developed a clever trick to conceal herself when entering and exiting vehicles. As she leaned out of the door, she would simply place a clutch bag over her chest, to ensure no one could see more than she bargained for.
2. The Queen’s ruby tiara
When the Queen hosted U.S. President Donald Trump at a state banquet in 2019 it seemed that the monarch was extending her warmest welcome. She went all out for the occasion, wearing an elegant Angela Kelly gown and a sparkling ruby tiara. However, some commentators pointed out that her choice of jewelry apparently had a hidden meaning.
The spectacular tiara that the Queen wore contains 96 rubies that had been gifted to the monarch on her wedding day by the people of Myanmar. However, the jewels have a symbolic meaning in the nation as they are believed to ward off illness and evil. With this in mind, some wondered if Elizabeth was secretly throwing shade at Trump at the banquet. Unlikely.
1. Eugenie’s wedding dress
When Princess Eugenie tied the knot with Jack Brooksbank in 2018 she ensured her wedding dress was full of significance. For instance, the fabric included a thistle motif to represent Scotland, as the happy couple is fond of Balmoral. Furthermore, there was a shamrock in honor of Fergie’s family.
However, perhaps the most touching feature of Eugenie’s wedding dress was its low-cut back. Far from just a fashion statement, the style revealed a scar the princess had sustained after undergoing surgery for her scoliosis. This was no accident. Eugenie herself had requested a dipped back in order to highlight the mark.