There was not a hair out of place, not a shoe unpolished. Not a speck of lint on a jacket was to be seen. For the grandest, most magnificent occasions, the dress code was exquisite solemnity, with pearls and hats, high heels and sharp tailoring.
For the royal family it was, as the Archbishop of Canterbury noted, a portrait of grief under the spotlight. The Queen’s consort, the Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Sussex found little privacy under wide-brimmed hats, or veils, or both. And while Britain was watching the royal family, the rest of the world was watching Britain.
The unbuttoned white collars of the clergy and rich scarlet and gold military uniforms contrasted with the simplicity of the black-clad mourners, a reminder that the Queen’s death has put the spotlight not only on the current Windsors, but the whole notion of Britishness. .
It has been a busy 10 days for milliner Stephen Jones, who after the Queen’s death turned his central London store to sell black hats only in anticipation of funeral orders.
“Everybody wanted to be properly dressed, not fashionably dressed,” Jones said. “Hats were a symbol of Queen Elizabeth’s reign because she herself always wore them.” The most popular styles have been discreet black hats in neutral textures.
The arcane rules that decreed how non-working royal Prince Harry could not wear a military uniform, despite having seen more active service than most of the family, are the things that make the monarchy seem petty and meaningless in her eyes. the critics.
But Harry eased the tension, issuing a pre-announcement that he would be in a proper suit and that day it was Princess Anne, in her smart white hat and starched gloves, who looked the softest in military regalia.
At Britain’s last state funeral, that of Winston Churchill in 1965, mourners arrived in top hats and mink coats, while Lady Churchill plunged dramatically under courts of black lace.
Modernity has made for the full veil, with a “birdcage” length covering the upper half of the face favored this time by Kate and Camilla. Other modern touches included Carrie Johnson’s temptation for sustainability in a rented Karen Millen coat dress.
Kate and Meghan were dressed in almost mirror harmony, a quiet response – or at least, no comment – to the growing interest in the rift between the Sussexes and the young Welsh. Both women wore disc hats – Kate’s toned down with a small veil, Meghan’s with a ripple at the brim.
Both chose clean and unusual tailoring from British female designers, with Meghan in Stella McCartney and Kate wearing a favorite Alexander McQueen dress. Only Kate’s four-row pearl headpiece and matching bracelet from the late Queen’s collection, which overshadowed Meghan’s simple pearl earrings, hinted at the discrepancy between their positions.
Outside the circle of close mourners there were charming individual touches. Jacinda Ardern wore a kakahu, a traditional Maori cloak made of feathers, which is a symbol of ritual and prestige in New Zealand.
Princess Charlotte’s old-fashioned black hat was reminiscent of the bodice worn by Madeline Fogg, the 1940s schoolgirl protagonist of Ludwig Bemelmans’ children’s books, while the diamond horseshoe brooch on her coat sweetly referred to the love of horses she shared. eldest – grandmother.