Platinum Jubilee: The Queen's Coronation at Windsor Castle

10 August 2022

Last month we had the pleasure of visiting Buckingham Palace to view the exhibition The Queen’s Accession, and this week we headed to Windsor Castle to see The Queen’s Coronation, another very special exhibition, both part of this year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

This is a very rare opportunity and privilege to see in close-up the Coronation Dress and Robe of Estate worn by The Queen for her Coronation at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953. Designed by British couturier, Sir Normal Hartnell, the dress literally takes one’s breath away! It’s an utterly dazzling combination of rich fabrics, including the finest white duchesse satin with exquisitely designed embroideries which are arranged in three scalloped, graduated tiers with alternating lines of gold bugle beads, diamantes and pearls. Hartnell, who also designed The Queen’s wedding dress, submitted nine different designs and The Queen chose the eighth version and suggested the addition of embroideries in various colours rather than just silver.

Her Majesty The Queen’s Coronation Dress, designed by Sir Norman Hartnell.

England is represented by The Tudor Rose, embroidered in palest pink silk, pearls, gold and silver bullion and rose diamonds. The Thistle represents Scotland, embroidered in pale mauve silk and amethysts. The calyx was embroidered in reseda green silk, silver thread and diamond dewdrops. The Shamrock representing Ireland was embroidered in soft green silk, silver thread bullion and diamonds and The Leek representing Wales, is embroidered in white silk and diamonds with the leaves in palest green silk. The Queen also requested that in addition to the four national emblems, the Donimions of which she was now Queen, should also be added.

As a result, the Coronation Dress is regarded as one of the most important examples of twentieth-century design. Photographs or black and white footage of the coronation cannot give an accurate indication of how spectacular this creation really is. It glitters and sparkles from every angle, and one can only imagine how truly radiant The Queen must have looked as she proceeded down the aisle of Westminister Abbey. Her Majesty’s Robe of Estate, no less spectacular, was made by the royal robe-makers, Ede and Ravenscroft, of purple silk velvet and was embroidered at the Royal School of Needlework. It took 12 embroideresses using 18 different types of gold thread, more than 3,500 hours to complete the work.

Her Majesty The Queen’s Coronation Robe by Ede & Ravenscroft, 1953.
Sir Norman Hartnell. Her Majesty The Queen in Coronation Robes, 1953.

Also on display is the magnificent suite of necklace and earrings worn by The Queen at her coronation. Originally made for Queen Victoria, the 22.48 carat diamond pendant is known as the Lahore Diamond and was presented to Queen Victoria in 1851. The necklace and earrings were both designed by R & S Garrard & Co.

The Coronation Earrings:

R & S Gerrard & Co., The Coronation Earrings, 1858

The Queen often wears brooches that represent the emblems of Commonwealth countries while visiting or meeting their representatives. In the exhibition, visitors will be able to see a beautiful selection of brooches, including the Canadian Maple-leaf brooch, worn by Her Majesty (then Princess Elizabeth) on her first visit to Canada in 1951, designed by Asprey & Co.

Asprey & Co., Canadian Maple-leaf brooch, 1939

Below is the colourful Sri Lanka which was presented to The Queen during a State Visit to the country in 1981:

Sri Lanka Brooch, 1981

The Coronation of Elizabeth II took a staggering 14 months of preparation and it was the first coronation to be televised in full. It was said the event lead to members of most households across the land purchasing their first TV set, and that an average of 17 people watched each small TV set with a worldwide audience of 277 million which gives a few hints as to the sheer magnitude of this historic occasion.

A truly spectacular exhibition not to be missed!

Curator Caroline de Guitaut makes final adjustments to Her Majesty The Queen’s Coronation Dress and Robe of Estate as part of the special display Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Coronation at Windsor Castle.

Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Coronation will be at Windsor Castle until Monday 26 September 2022.

Images with thanks to The Royal Collection Trust

CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of  The Royal Collection Trust