Queen Elizabeth II was many things – monarch and leader, mother and grandmother, animal lover, symbol of Britain. Along the way, there was one role it was impossible to ignore: that of glorious style icon.
From bold florals to highlighter-bright block colours and always the most fabulous jewels, the Queen has long been dressing in timeless – and often adventurous – pieces that continue to influence modern fashion.
The blue gown she wore to meet the Kennedys – try to tell us a celebrity today wouldn’t be hailed best-dressed for wearing the exact same on the red carpet.
Much of the Queen’s inimitable style was down to Angela Kelly, who had the grand title of Personal Assistant, Adviser and Curator to Her Majesty the Queen (Jewellery, Insignias and Wardrobe).
This made her responsible not only for designing, selecting, and styling much of the Queen’s clothing, but also working with the monarch to serve as a confidante and a sounding board for the creation of the Queen’s spectacular wardrobe.
Angela and the Queen’s relationship began in 1992, when Angela joined the royal household after working as a housekeeper for the British Ambassador to Germany.
She had no formal fashion training, but had learned from her mother how to sew outfits for her dolls.
The Queen had met Angela by chance, and was clearly a fast fan – Angela mentioned she planned to return to the UK and one year later, she was offered a role dressing the ruler.
‘I suppose the Queen must have liked me,’ said Angela.
Three years later, Angela was promoted to Senior Dresser, then landed another promotion to the top decision-maker when it came to the Queen’s outfits.
During her time working with the Queen, she personally designed a number of iconic outfits, including the pale yellow dress coat Queen Elizabeth wore to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding, and many of the ensembles worn on Zoom during the Covid-19 lockdown.
While Angela remained a discreet and trustworthy friend to the Queen, she did let slip some fun stories about Her Majesty’s style quirks.
- 1 Queen Elizabeth II dead: Latest updates
- 2 At Windsor Castle, 1944
- 3 Buckingham Palace, 1947
- 4 Buckingham Palace, 1947
- 5 Wedding day, 1947
- 6 Honeymoon, 1947
- 7 Coronation, 1953
- 8 At Badminton House, Gloucestershire, 1956
- 9 Meeting the Kennedys, 1961
- 10 Malta, 1967
- 11 Sydney, 1970
- 12 New Zealand, 1970
- 13 Mexico, 1975
- 14 New Zealand, 1977
- 15 New Zealand, 1977
- 16 New Zealand, 1977
- 17 In Morocco, 1980
- 18 Quirinale Palace, Rome, 1980
- 19 Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Edward at Badminton Horse Trials, 1980
- 20 Watching the polo, 1980
- 21 Taking a photograph, 1980
- 22 At Sandringham with the corgis, 1980
- 23 Meeting Cliff Richard, 1980
- 24 Sri Lanka, 1981
- 25 Leaving St Mary’s after meeting baby Prince William, 1982
- 26 30th anniversary walk, Sandringham, 1982
- 27 Braemar Highland Games, 1982
- 28 Banquet in San Francisco, 1983
- 29 Canada, 1984
- 30 Bahamas, 1985
- 31 Windsor, 1985
- 32 Singapore, 1989
- 33 At the Derby, Epsom, Surrey, 1987
- 34 London, 1990
- 35 Trooping the Colour, London, 1991
- 36 At the VJ 50th anniversary parade, London, 1995
- 37 South Africa, 1995
- 38 At the Royal Windsor Horse Show, 1998
- 39 South Africa, 1999
- 40 Westminster Abbey, London, 2000
- 41 The Christmas broadcast, 2001
- 42 Montego Bay, Jamaica, 2002
- 43 The Royal Windsor Horse Show, 2002
- 44 Opening of Parliament, 2002
- 45 Windsor, 2002
- 46 Braemar Highland Gathering, 2002
- 47 London, 2003
- 48 Cheltenham National Hunt Festival, 2003
- 49 Sandringham, 2003
- 50 Royal opening of Scottish Parliament, 2004
- 51 Windsor, 2005
- 52 Queen’s Cup Final polo match, 2005
- 53 Bristol, 2005
- 54 Richmond, Virginia, 2007
- 55 Egham, 2008
- 56 London, 2009
- 57 Buckingham Palace, 2009
- 58 Ladies Day at Ascot, 2011
- 59 Braemar, Scotland, 2012
- 60 Royal Variety Performance, London, 2012
- 61 Berlin, 2015
- 62 Windsor, 2016
- 63 Trooping the Colour, 2016
- 64 Meghan and Harry’s wedding, 2018
- 65 Widnes, 2018
- 66 London Fashion Week, 2018
- 67 Salisbury, 2020
- 68 Meeting Joe Biden at Windsor Castle, 2021
- 69 Windsor, 2021
- 70 Meeting Scott Morrison at Windsor Castle, 2021
- 71 Buckingham Palace, 2021
- 72 Windsor Castle, 2021
- 73 Ascot Champions Day, 2021
- 74 Westminster Abbey, 2022
- 75 Commemorating the 70th Anniversary Of Halcyon Days, 2022
- 76 Royal Windsor Horse Show, 2022
- 77 Trooping the Colour, 2022
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‘We are two typical women,’ Angela once shared. ‘We discuss clothes, makeup, jewellery. We say, “would this piece of jewelry look nice with that outfit?”‘
One of our favourite facts about the Queen’s style, as revealed by Angela? She absolutely loves a bargain – so much so that Angela regularly shopped from sale sections just to see the Queen’s joy over a good deal.
Angela has told one story of almost missing a flight home just to claim tax back (and thus cut the costs significantly) on some fabric in Singapore, knowing that the Queen would be ecstatic about the thrifty hack.
The Queen also had a genuine passion for clothing and was very involved in the daily decision of what to wear.
‘The Queen loves clothes and is a real expert on fabrics,’ Angela told The Telegraph. ‘It has not been a question of me teaching the Queen – it has been the other way around.’
Angela was always on hand to help, of course, even wearing in the Queen’s shoes so that she could be comfortable wearing them for long engagements (thankfully, the pair wore the same size).
There were some key considerations when it came to dressing the Queen.
For one, every outfit the Queen wore for royal appearances needed to be easy to spot, so people would immediately know the Queen had arrived. You’ll notice that any time it rained during a royal appearance, the Queen would have a transparent umbrella so she could still be easily seen – with a handle and trim to match her ensemble.
All clothing needed to be comfortable and practical in changeable conditions, from the dreary grey skies of London to the warmer climes of her international visits.
The bright colours the Queen was known for had a pragmatic cause, sure, as the Queen needed to be visible, but also emerged from her own style preferences.
Elizabeth loved a nearly-neon shade, once joking: ‘If I wore beige, no one would know who I am.’
The Queen preferred her pieces to be timeless, with no obvious ties to the trends of a certain era, and she very rarely wore trousers. Due to frequent outfit changes, she liked items with zips (easy to slip on and off) and didn’t want any fabrics that would crease during her travels.
Oh, and she adored a pocket.
When the Queen was a child, her family often told her off for putting her hands in her pockets – so much so that all the pockets in her clothes had been sewn up so she couldn’t fall into the habit.
So for years, the Queen longed to not only enjoy the ease of a pocket, but also to be photographed with her hands defiantly stuffed inside.
Angela helped to make that dream come true, arranging for formal photographs of the Queen with her hands in her pockets – which were then finally released in 2019.
Timeless, stylish, but always with a sense of fun and quiet rebellion, the Queen’s style was entirely her own.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look back at some of her best ever fashion moments through the years.
At Windsor Castle, 1944
Buckingham Palace, 1947
Buckingham Palace, 1947
Wedding day, 1947
At Badminton House, Gloucestershire, 1956
Meeting the Kennedys, 1961
New Zealand, 1970
New Zealand, 1977
New Zealand, 1977
New Zealand, 1977
In Morocco, 1980
Quirinale Palace, Rome, 1980
Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Edward at Badminton Horse Trials, 1980
Watching the polo, 1980
Taking a photograph, 1980
At Sandringham with the corgis, 1980
Meeting Cliff Richard, 1980
Sri Lanka, 1981
Leaving St Mary’s after meeting baby Prince William, 1982
30th anniversary walk, Sandringham, 1982
Braemar Highland Games, 1982
Banquet in San Francisco, 1983
At the Derby, Epsom, Surrey, 1987
Trooping the Colour, London, 1991
At the VJ 50th anniversary parade, London, 1995
South Africa, 1995
At the Royal Windsor Horse Show, 1998
South Africa, 1999
Westminster Abbey, London, 2000
The Christmas broadcast, 2001
Montego Bay, Jamaica, 2002
The Royal Windsor Horse Show, 2002
Opening of Parliament, 2002
Braemar Highland Gathering, 2002
Cheltenham National Hunt Festival, 2003
Royal opening of Scottish Parliament, 2004
Queen’s Cup Final polo match, 2005
Richmond, Virginia, 2007
Buckingham Palace, 2009
Ladies Day at Ascot, 2011
Braemar, Scotland, 2012
Royal Variety Performance, London, 2012
Trooping the Colour, 2016
Meghan and Harry’s wedding, 2018
London Fashion Week, 2018
Meeting Joe Biden at Windsor Castle, 2021
Meeting Scott Morrison at Windsor Castle, 2021
Buckingham Palace, 2021
Windsor Castle, 2021
Ascot Champions Day, 2021
Westminster Abbey, 2022
Commemorating the 70th Anniversary Of Halcyon Days, 2022
Royal Windsor Horse Show, 2022
Trooping the Colour, 2022
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