The Story Behind The Queen’s Coronation Dress And Robe

The Norman Hartnell gown took eight months to make.

Queen Elizabeth Coronation dress

by Laura Antonia Jordan |

In October 1952, Queen Elizabeth asked British couturier Norman Hartnell to create her Coronation gown. The legendary interwar designer already had a close relationship with the royal family; creating the gown for the then-Princess Elizabeth’s wedding five years earlier.

Queen Elizabeth Coronation dress

Hartnell set to work, researching at the London Museum and the London Library and then sketching in the seclusion of Windsor Forest. ‘My mind was teeming with heraldic and floral ideas,’ he wrote in his autobiography, Silver and Gold. ‘I thought of lilies, roses, marguerites and golden corn; I thought of altar cloths and sacred vestments; I thought of the sky, the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars and everything heavenly that might be embroidered upon a dress destined to be historic’.

Queen Elizabeth Coronation dress

Nine designs were submitted; the Queen’s favourite was a short-sleeved, sweetheart-necked gown embroidered with the emblems of Great Britain. She expressed a desire for colour and the flowers of the Commonwealth to be added. It took eight months to complete and is today part of the Royal Collection.

What about Queen Elizabeth's robe?

According to the Royal Collection Trust, Queen Elizabeth II's robe had a border of wheat ears and olive branches, symbolising peace and plenty. The Coronation robe, which was embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework, took two months and 3,500 hours to complete.

Where is the robe on display?

As part of this year's celebrations for the Platinum Jubilee, the so-called robe of estate, which is made out of purple silk-velvet, isn't on display at Buckingham Palace, but at Windsor Castle - and will be until September 26.


SEE: The Queen Of Style

Queen in Anello and Davide
1 of 26

London-based footwear brand Anello and Davide is where the Queen purchases some of her favourite shoes. And it was recently revealed that Her Majesty has hired someone to break in her block heels... If that's not goals, then we don't know what is.

Queen with broaches
2 of 26

The Queen's most cherished piece of jewellery? The brooch. Her Majesty is rarely seen without a bejewelled pin on the left of her jacket. She'll even go so far as to pesonalising her brooch depending on the country she is visiting.

Queen colour block
3 of 26

The Queen of England? More like the Queen of colour-blocking. Her Majesty has a talent for making anything look brilliant whether its head-to-toe fuchsia or this season's 'It' hue, yellow.

Queen in jewels
4 of 26

Diamonds are the Queen's best friend, after all.

Queen on tube
5 of 26

Enjoy fashion. What inspires us the most about the Queen is the way in which she embraces fashion. She plays with the colour palette, experiments with hats and is never, ever short of Instagrammable accessorises. But the best part? She's always dressed for the day ahead. Whether she's travelling by horse-drawn carriage or, well, the tube...

Queen in flower crown
6 of 26

Believe it or not, the Queen was the original festival girl. Just take a moment to appreciate the flower-embellished hats she donned in the late seventies.

Queen holding baby
7 of 26

We can't help but wonder if the Queen inspired Princess Diana's love of colourful gloves?

Queen in headscarf
8 of 26

We doubt the Queen ever has a bad hair day but if she does, she's got a failsafe plan. Whether she's out riding her horses or going on a state visit, Her Majesty is sure to don a fabulous headscarf. And of course, the accessory will always match her co-ords.

Queen in chic outfits
9 of 26

Invest. The Queen rarely performs outfit repeats. So ensure you have a co-ord for every possible occasion. You never know who you might meet and quite frankly, it could be a little embarassing...

Queen in ceremonial gowns
10 of 26

The Queen has reportedly never worn jeans. Or at least, she's never been spotted in public donning a pair.

Queen with corgis
11 of 26

Keep your corgis close. The Queen's greatest accessories are of course her beloved pets. You cannot even begin to channel the Queen's majestic aesthetic without the help of the most quintessentially royal emblem there is.

Queen in sparkles
12 of 26

Let loose on the sparkles. You needn't be a princess to don glitter. The Queen debuted one of our favourite looks to date back in 1964 when she attended a banquet at Claridge's in a gold dress and fur stole.

Queen with handbag
13 of 26

The Queen has been carrying the miniature handbag before we even knew they were a trend.

Queen wedding day
14 of 26

Queen Elizabeth II married Philip Mountbatten on 20 November, 1947. As the second world war had only just come to an end, Her Majesty had to purchase material for her wedding dress using ration coupons. The gown was designed by Norman Hartnell and was made from white satin.

Queen in furs
15 of 26

Rule number one when it comes to royal protocall? One can never be overdressed. So don layers of pearls, faux-furs and always choose the sparkliest tiara.

Queen in pearls
16 of 26

Well, you couldn't possibly rule as the Queen of England without pearls. Her Majesty is rarely spotted without a full set.

Queen in rainbow colors
17 of 26

Rainbow hues. There isn't a colour on the spectrum that the Queen cannot pull off. Whether it's primary red or sunny yellow. We challenge you to find someone who wears it better. Good luck.

Queen in royal farms on throne
18 of 26

Rule the fashion scene. The Queen is never afraid to don the brightest colour in the crowd or debut the sparkliest tiara. Channel Her Majesty this season with similar flair and enthusiasm.

Queen with mum
19 of 26

Seek sartorial inspiration from your mum. Her Majesty often co-ordinated with the late Queen Mother. The mother/daughter duo often sported similar hats, hairstyles and miniature handbags.

Queen in trousers
20 of 26

The Queen has only ever been photographed in trousers once. Her Majesty was pictured in a suit by Ian Thomas during the 1970 Royal Canadian Tour.

Queen with matching umbrella
21 of 26

The Queen is as dedicated to fashion as she is to her royal duties. And if she's going to colour-block her outfit, she isn't one to do it half-heartedly. Her Majesty even goes so far as to co-ordinate her umbrellas to her outfits.

Queen in maximalist clothing
22 of 26

Veer away from monochrome. The Queen is no Scandi-wannabe. Want proof? We challenge you to find an ounce of minimalism in her wardrobe. So channel the rainbow and you'll soon bring a smile to your colleague's faces.

Queen on horseback
23 of 26

Oh, one does love to go outdoors. The Queen is renowned for her adoration of horses and always dresses for the occasion. Her go-to outfit? Her Majesty often teams a waistcoat and waterproof with a co-ordinating headscarf and wellies.

Queen Elizabeth as a young princess
24 of 26

XCVI. The Queen has been reigning the style stakes for a grand 96 years. Impressive.

Queen in yellow
25 of 26

The Queen is undoubtedly able to pull of any hue but our favourite? It has to be yellow. The sunny shade is a failsafe and the Queen has been donning the look long before any of us declared it the colour of the season.

Queen in zipped jacket with queen mum
26 of 26

Zip up. Each of the Queen's outfits is fitted with a zip in preparation for endless outfit changes.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us