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The Queen’s Working Wardrobe: Memories Of Royal Occasions, 1945 - 1972

08/07/2004, By

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Following on from the hugely successful "Hats and Handbags: Accessories from the Royal Wardrobe", Kensington Palace is launching a new exhibition this summer celebrating HM The Queen’s diverse style and fashion.

"The Queen’s Working Wardrobe: Memories of Royal Occasions, 1945 - 1972" will feature twelve very different outfits worn by Her Majesty chosen to reflect aspects of her life and work.

The earliest and probably one of the most recognizable outfits to be displayed is Princess Elizabeth’s Auxiliary Territorial Service uniform that she first wore in February 1945 when she joined ATS during World War II.

Registered as cadet No. 230873 Second Subaltern Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor, she was often photographed in this uniform driving army vehicles and fixing engines with spanner in hand as part of the war effort when she undertook duties at Camberley, Surrey.

In her role as Head of State, The Queen wears spectacular evening dress under her robes when she opens Parliament. She chose a stunning Norman Hartnell evening gown in gorgeous ivory satin, complete with exquisite gold beading and embroidery, when she opened the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington in 1963.

The Queen as patron of arts and science has attended hundreds of exhibitions and performances during her reign and it is on these occasions that some of her most glamorous couture gowns can be enjoyed. Her Majesty wore a dramatic off-the-shoulder black velvet evening dress when she met Hollywood stars Marilyn Monroe and Bridget Bardot at the Royal Film Performance of The Battle of the River Plate in 1956.

Although Head of the Church of England, she observed Papal protocol when meeting Pope John XXIII at the Vatican during a state visit to Italy in 1961 by wearing a full length black lace dress, with matching veil.

Much more colourful dresses are more often chosen for state visits. An organdie evening dress with pink silk bows and embroidered with Mayflowers, the floral emblem of Nova Scotia, was worn to a banquet in Halifax during her 1959 tour of Canada.

Back home The Queen is equally sensitive in choosing outfits for occasions or events she is attending. A nautical blue and white suit was fittingly chosen when she knighted yachtsman Francis Chichester at Greenwich in 1967 after his solo voyage around the world.

Wall Of Memory – Shared Experiences:

As well as exhibiting a fascinating selection of The Queen’s dresses they are also collecting personal memories of Royal occasions and events over the years, when people met the Queen or have taken part or been spectators of Royal events and celebrations.

Visitors and non-visitors alike are invited to send them pictures, mementoes or descriptions of what it was like. Were you in the ATS perhaps, attending a film premiere or simply meeting The Queen when she visited your home town?

If you would like your memories displayed on their Wall of Memory as part of the exhibition, please write them on a postcard and send them to: Sophie Sheridan, HM Tower of London, London, EC3N 4AB or E-Mail Her.

The exhibition at Kensington Palace will open on Friday July 23 2004 and will run for one year; to book advanced tickets to Kensington Palace please call +44 (0)870 751 5180.

All four Images are courtesy of and Copyright - Richard Lee-Hair.

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