Secret symbols: the hidden details of the Queen’s funeral
Manon Martini discusses the secrets concealed within royal fashion choices that you may have missed during the funeral of her late majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
As our nation gathered to watch the funeral of the late Queen Elizabeth II on 19 September, the reality of her 70-year reign drawing to a close evoked feelings of sorrow and uncertainty for many. Whilst exploration of what the royal family were wearing on the day may seem trivial, one must consider the position of fashion as an art form within which a palimpsest of historical, cultural and personal significance can be expressed. In an age where the monarchy is expected to remain silently impartial, their outfits can provide subtle commentary on that which would otherwise remain hidden.
Princess Anne made one of the most evident tributes to her mother through her decision not to wear the expected standard for senior female royals, that being a black dress which drops below the knee. She instead opted for her impressively decorated military uniform. Looking stoic yet sombre, the Princess’s uniform was also embellished with a thistle sash – a mark of the greatest order of chivalry in Scotland. The Princess’s attire pays homage to the quiet solidarity with which the Queen stood with women across the globe throughout her reign. Like her mother, Princess Anne has never publicly identified as a ‘feminist’; she is known to have fought sexist royal protocol throughout her teenage years. She also continues to support women as a patron for the Women into Science and Engineering campaign today.
The Princess’s attire pays homage to the quiet solidarity with which the Queen stood with women across the globe throughout her reign
Meghan Markle wore a pair of pearl and diamond stud earrings gifted to her by Her Majesty. The significance of pearls as a traditional mark of respect and mourning originates with Queen Victoria, who famously wore pearl jewelry after the death of her husband, Prince Albert. The pearls were thought to represent tears of grief and Victoria wore strings of them for the rest of her life. Markle’s nod towards royal traditionalism, whilst remaining firmly in the realm of the modernity, seems a fitting public goodbye for her late grandmother-in-law.
The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was also seen wearing pearls. All eyes were fixed on the four-row Japanese pearl necklace which belonged to the late Queen and was previously worn by Princess Diana. Kate also wore the necklace for the 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s marriage to the late Prince Philip. The cultural history of the piece evokes a sense of melancholic serenity, as one hopes that the heartbroken Queen can be with her husband once more.
The cultural history of the piece evokes a sense of melancholic serenity, as one hopes that the heartbroken Queen can be with her husband once more.
Even the younger royals were seen paying homage to their great grandmother through their glittering, yet subtle pieces. Princess Charlotte wore a horseshoe broach in memory of her beloved ‘gan gan’, known for her fondness of horses. It is even said that her favorite horse ‘Emma’ made a special appearance on the day to bid her mistress farewell.
As always, one must read between the lines when it comes to the individual expression of the royals. The subtle features of their attire on the day of the funeral made for an elegant and meaningful send-off that one can only hope would have touched Her Royal Highness.