King Charles III was crowned in a coronation that will go down in history. His Majesty sat on his throne to receive St. Edward’s Crown for the first time not long after being anointed with holy oil.
After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the service itself—which was broadcast to millions of people worldwide—became a turning point in both his reign and the history of the British monarchy. The Prince and Princess of Wales, Prince Harry, and the Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh were among the royals present.
Observers noted that several royal family members were dressed in white for the momentous occasion. In immaculate white ceremonial robes, Princess Catherine, Duchess Sophie, Princess Charlotte, and Queen Camilla herself undoubtedly looked stunning.
But why did the royals don white for the coronation?
The royal family has a long-standing custom of donning white during coronations. Other royal women and members of the British aristocracy also wore white to the coronation of the late Queen Elizabeth II in 1953. “The Queen and her maids of honor would wear white ‘court dresses’ to symbolise the purity and divinity of the Monarch — who, after all, was believed to be appointed by God,” says celebrity stylist and royal fashion expert Miranda Holder. “This is classic color psychology.”
“Although many attendees at the ceremony avoided wearing this color, it is unlikely that they were specifically instructed to avoid wearing white,” she continued. “Invitations only specified day dress or national dress, with no reference to specific colors.”
The Princess of Wales’ royal robes were colored in a way that referenced the Union Flag’s color scheme. The colors of the flag—blue, red, and white—are also present in Princess Catherine’s Alexander McQueen attire.
In order to represent the four nations of the UK, Catherine’s dress was made of ivory silk crepe and embroidered with silver bullion and rose, thistle, daffodil, and shamrock motifs. The addition of the late Queen’s stunning George VI Festoon Necklace, which has three strands of sizable diamonds, made the profoundly meaningful ensemble even more poignant. Princess Diana’s pearl and diamond earrings were also added as an additional tribute, and the ensemble was completed with silk pumps by Gianvito Rossi.
Catherine completed her ensemble with a custom headpiece designed by Jess Collett, a milliner, and Alexander McQueen. Embroidered with rose, thistle, daffodil, and shamrock motifs in ivory satin stitch, Princess Charlotte matched her mother beautifully in a custom Alexander McQueen outfit as well.
White is a color that stands for simplicity and purity. This is important for the royals who wore the angelic shade, especially Queen Camilla, as it denotes the dawn of new beginnings and is undoubtedly a nod to the beginning of her new reign.
The Queen additionally wore conventional ermine fur, which was cream-colored with black spots. Ermine, a material derived from stoats, is also very symbolic, particularly in Europe. The ermine’s pelt, which was historically reserved for the most illustrious members of society, has come to stand for purity.
The wearing of ermine was only permitted for royal family members during the reign of Edward III (1327–77), and it has since retained that exclusivity-associated connotation.
In a custom-made Bruce Oldfield gown and the crimson velvet Robe of State for the coronation ceremony, Queen Camilla unquestionably exuded regal beauty. The stunning dress had paneling in the distinctive style of Bruce Oldfield to give the back of the bodice a fitted silhouette, and the short train was made to match Her Majesty’s coronation robes.
The ivory dress was crafted by Stephen Walters in Suffolk, England, from Peau de Soie, a silk fabric with a matte luster finish. With its wide V-neck neckline, bracelet-length sleeves, strong shoulder, and ivory, silver, and gold color scheme, it gave Camilla a regal silhouette for the historic ceremony.
A 25-year-old Queen Elizabeth II donned a lavish white duchesse satin gown in 1953 that was adorned with pearly strings, sequins, and crystals. Additionally, the Norman Hartnell-designed dress featured embroidered floral symbols representing the United States and the Commonwealth in gold, silver, and soft pastel colors. The late monarch wore a six-and-a-half-meter Robe of Estate by royal robe-makers Ede & Ravenscroft over her opulent gown. The Queen’s velvet robe was created by a group of 12 seamstresses over the course of 3,500 hours using 18 different kinds of gold thread.