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Special Coronation display opens at Windsor Castle to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Release date: Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Her Majesty The Queen's Coronation Dress on display at Windsor Castle

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Continuing the celebration of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, a special display at Windsor Castle opens to visitors on Thursday, 7 July. Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Coronation explores the Coronation through portraiture, photographs and items of Her Majesty’s dress and jewellery, including the Coronation Dress, Robe of Estate and the Coronation Necklace and Earrings.

The Queen’s Coronation, which took place at Westminster Abbey on 2 June 1953, was one of the most significant occasions of the 20th century. The event was a source of national celebration, seen to usher in a new age of progress and a spirit of optimism in post-war Britain. Three million people lined the processional route in London and many more took part in church services and street parties across the country. An estimated 27 million people – over half of the UK population – watched the Coronation service on television, while a further 11 million listened to the radio broadcast.

Her Majesty’s Coronation Dress and Robe of Estate are on display in the spectacular setting of St George’s Hall, the largest room in the Castle. Designed by the British couturier Sir Norman Hartnell, the Coronation Dress was created in the finest white duchesse satin, richly embroidered in a lattice-work effect with an iconographic scheme of floral emblems in gold and silver thread and pastel-coloured silks, encrusted with seed pearls, sequins and crystals. Hartnell, who had previously designed The Queen’s wedding dress in 1947, submitted eight designs for consideration. Her Majesty selected the eighth design but requested that the emblems of the seven independent states of which she was monarch be incorporated, together with those of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. A colourful sketch of Hartnell’s ninth and final design is on display alongside original embroidery samples, giving visitors an insight into the process of designing the dress.

Her Majesty’s Robe of Estate was made by the royal robe-makers Ede & Ravenscroft of purple silk velvet woven by the firm of Warner & Sons, and was embroidered at the Royal School of Needlework. The goldwork embroidery design features wheat ears and olive branches, symbolising prosperity and peace, surrounding the crowned EIIR cipher. It took 12 embroideresses, using 18 different types of gold thread, more than 3,500 hours to complete the work between March and May 1953.  

Her Majesty’s Coronation Necklace and Earrings are on display in the Lantern Lobby. Originally made for Queen Victoria in 1858 and comprising of 28 diamonds, the necklace was subsequently worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen Mother) at their coronations in 1902, 1911 and 1937 respectively. The Coronation Earrings had also been worn by Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth on their coronation days.

On display for the first time is a group of four brooches belonging to Her Majesty, each representing a nation of the United Kingdom, with a sprig of shamrock for Northern Ireland, sprays of daffodils for Wales, thistles for Scotland and roses for England. The brooches are made of gold, set with white, pink and yellow diamonds and, for the shamrock, emeralds. The Queen has worn these brooches on numerous occasions, often while visiting the nation represented by the emblem.

Also on display are brooches representing the emblems of some Commonwealth countries. These include the Canadian Maple-leaf Brooch, worn by Her Majesty (then Princess Elizabeth) on her first visit to Canada in 1951; the Flame-Lily Brooch, the emblem of Zimbabwe, which was pinned to The Queen’s mourning clothes when she returned to Britain from Kenya after the death of her father in 1952; the New Zealand Silver Fern Brooch, the Australian Wattle Brooch, and the Sri Lanka Brooch.

A highlight of the display will be a 2.5-metre-tall portrait of The Queen by Sir Herbert James Gunn. Commissioned to commemorate the Coronation, it continues a long tradition of formal portraiture of new monarchs in their Coronation clothes, often referred to as ‘State Portraits’. Her Majesty is depicted in the Throne Room at Buckingham Palace wearing the Coronation Dress, Robe of Estate, Coronation Necklace and Earrings, Diamond Diadem and the Collar and Badge of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. This badge, known as the Marlborough George, is also part of the display.