While the weekend full of festivities may be over, the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth‘s Platinum Jubilee continue on, now with an exhibition dedicated to the day she took the throne 70 years ago.
The monarch’s ornate coronation gown will be put on display as part of Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Coronation, an exhibit opening at Windsor Castle on Thursday. The 1953 dress designed by Sir Norman Hartnell has only been put on display three times over the last 69 years. It will also be shown alongside a collection of sketches, paintings, historical artifacts, and some of the most stunning royal jewels from her collection. The curator of the exhibition, Caroline de Guitaut, told People, “It’s probably one of the most important dresses made in the 20th century — certainly a great piece of British design. The combination of rich fabrics and beautiful embroideries was really Hartnell’s absolute signature and I think the greatest expression of all his career.”
Queen Elizabeth was also apparently very involved in the design of this special piece of fashion history. The dress is made out of high quality white duchesse satin decorated with a heavily embroidered latticework design featuring floral emblems done in pastel silks and gold and silver thread and embellished with seed pearls, sequins, and crystals. Because of all of that ornate detail work, the garment is estimated to weight at least eleven pounds. To create the gown, Hartnell drew eight sketches, but it was the ninth that the monarch most preferred as it featured the imagery of the UK’s signature flora. Hartnell also designed the queen’s wedding dress in 1947.
But de Guitaut explained that the royal still wasn’t totally satisfied with the design, so “she made two further suggestions to Hartnell, which were that the emblems should be embroidered in colored silks as well as the embellishments of pearls and beads. And also that he should incorporate the emblems of the nations of which she would become Queen, the independent states such as Australia and New Zealand and so on.”
In addition to the coronation gown, visitor to the exhibit will also get to take in the queen’s Robe of Estate which took 12 embroideresses, using 18 types of gold thread, more than 3,500 hours to complete it’s intricate design of wheat ears and olive branches meant to symbolize prosperity and peace. The diamond necklace and earrings she wore on her coronation day will also be on display. These pieces were commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1858 and were made by Garrard & Co. The jewels have been passed down through her family ever since and have been worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, and the Queen Mother. There will also be two portraits included in the exhibit, one by Sir Herbert James Gunn commissioned in commemoration of the coronation, and another by William Dargie, known as the “Wattle Portrait” due to its inclusion of the yellow flowers on the queen’s dress.
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