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Pantomime costume worn by Princess Elizabeth to go on display for the first time at Windsor Castle in a new exhibition of The Queen's wardrobe

Release date: Thursday, 18 August 2016

Crimson jacket and matching sleeveless long silk dress worn by  Princess Margaret as ‘Princess Roxana’ in the 1943 production of Aladdin at Windsor Castle.

Crimson jacket and matching sleeveless long silk dress worn by Princess Margaret as ‘Princess Roxana’ in the 1943 production of Aladdin at Windsor Castle. ©

A costume worn by Her Majesty The Queen as the teenage Princess Elizabeth when she starred in the pantomime Aladdin will go on public display for the first time in the special exhibition Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe at Windsor Castle from Saturday, 17 September.

It is among over 30 outfits representing key moments in The Queen's life and reign, including family celebrations and State and ceremonial occasions, that will be brought together in the third of the trilogy of exhibitions marking Her Majesty's 90th birthday year.

During the Second World War, Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret spent much of their time at Royal Lodge in the grounds of Windsor Castle, safely away from the bombing in London. From 1941 to 1944 they took part in Christmas pantomimes to raise money for the Royal Household Wool Fund, which supplied knitting wool to make comforters for soldiers fighting at the Front.

In 1943, the Princesses appeared in a production of Aladdin, written and produced by Mr Tanner, the Headmaster of the Royal School, Windsor. In the title role, Princess Elizabeth wore a silk tunic and silk-satin embroidered trousers, while, as 'Princess Roxana', Princess Margaret was dressed in a crimson silk-satin jacket trimmed in gold and crimson brocade with a matching sleeveless long silk dress. The young Princesses helped to make the oriental-style costumes, including the one worn by 'the Emperor' in Aladdin, which was made out of furnishing fabric probably once used in Windsor's State Apartments.

The performances were staged in the Castle's Waterloo Chamber. Because of the threat of bomb damage, the paintings from the Royal Collection that normally hung in the room had been removed from their frames, leaving bare walls. The young evacuee Claude Watham (the future TV and film director), then a part-time art student at Wycombe Technical Institute and School of Art, was tasked by Mr Tanner with producing set designs for the pantomimes on rolls of wallpaper, which were pasted up in the Waterloo Chamber by the Castle decorators. A photographic reproduction of Watham's scenery for the production of Aladdin will be displayed with the pantomime outfits in the exhibition.

Her Majesty The Queen has enjoyed a lifelong love of equestrianism, and has ridden in Windsor Great Park throughout her reign. The exhibition will include a riding jacket, jodhpurs and black patent riding boots made for Princess Elizabeth by the equestrian and livery tailors Bernard Weatherill in 1947. The jacket, in the style of a riding habit, is sharply cut away to allow for jodhpurs or a riding skirt to be worn underneath. A hacking jacket and jodhpurs made by Bernard Weatherill in the 1980s is typical of the style of clothing worn by The Queen when riding at Windsor. Both ensembles will be on display for the first time.

The exhibition at Windsor Castle is one of three separate special displays in celebration of The Queen's 90th birthday at each of Her Majesty's official residences during 2016. A total of around 150 outfits will be shown across the Palaces, and the content of each exhibition has been selected to have particular association with the location. At the Palace of Holyroodhouse the use of tartan in royal dress is explored, while at Buckingham Palace the exhibition presents the fashions of ten decades, from the 1920s to the 2010s. It shows the unique requirements of royal couture, from ceremonial and military attire to ensembles worn at family celebrations, such as weddings and christenings.

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