Celebrations for The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is continuing at Windsor Castle with a special exhibition exploring 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 ‘Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Coronation’ exhibition is open until September 26 and highlight’s the Coronation that took place at Westminster Abbey on June 2, 1953. The event was a national celebration and ushered in a new spirit of optimism in post-war Britain, with three million people lining the processional route in London and an estimated 27 million people, over half of the UK population, watching the service on TV.
To showcase the occasion, Windsor Castle is displaying Her Majesty’s Coronation Dress and Robe of Estate in St George’s Hall, the largest room in the Castle. Designed by British couturier Sir Norman Hartnell, the white Duchesse satin dress is embroidered in a lattice-work effect with an iconographic scheme of national and Commonwealth 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 and his colourful sketches and original embroidery samples are displayed alongside the final design to give visitors an insight into the process of designing the dress.
The Queen’s Coronation Dress and Robe go on display at Windsor Castle
In addition, Her Majesty’s Robe of Estate, made by the royal robe-makers Ede and Ravenscroft of purple silk velvet woven by the firm of Warner and Sons and embroidered at the Royal School of Needlework is also highlighted. The robe’s goldwork embroidery design features wheat ears and olive branches, symbolising prosperity and peace, surrounding the crowned intertwined 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.
Visitors can also see The Queen’s Coronation Necklace and Earrings 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 Originally made for Queen Victoria in 1858 and comprising of 28 diamonds, the necklace was subsequently worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth (The Queen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.
The exhibition also features a group of four brooches belonging to Her Majesty, which are on display for the first time. The brooches are made of gold, set with white, pink and yellow diamonds and, for the shamrock, emeralds and each represent a nation of the UK, with a sprig of shamrock for Northern Ireland, sprays of daffodils for Wales, thistles for Scotland and roses for England.
Also on display are brooches representing the emblems of some Commonwealth countries, including the Canadian Maple-leaf Brooch, worn by Her Majesty (then Princess Elizabeth) on her first visit to Canada in 1951, the New Zealand Silver Fern Brooch, and 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.
Other highlights of the exhibition include a 2.5-metre-tall portrait of The Queen by Sir Herbert James Gunn, which was commissioned to commemorate the Coronation. 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. There are also photographs of The Queen taken by British fashion and portrait photographer Cecil Beaton inside Buckingham Palace after she returned from Westminster Abbey. These include a three-quarter length portrait, showing Her Majesty wearing the Imperial State Crown and holding the sceptre and orb, and one that breaks with tradition, with Beaton photographing the young Queen against a painted backdrop of Henry VII’s Lady Chapel in Westminster Abbey.
The ‘Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Coronation’ exhibition is one of three exhibitions curated by the Royal Collection Trust to celebrate Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee. At Buckingham Palace, The Queen’s jewellery is on display, while at the Palace of Holyroodhouse they feature the outfits that she wore over the Platinum Jubilee weekend in June.