Queen Elizabeth II is the longest reigning British monarch to ever live. That’s quite an achievement! She was born into the line of succession through her father Prince Albert, the Duke of York, and her mother Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. Growing up she was not expected to ever become queen, but because of Edward VIII’s abdication her father, now titled King George VI, took over, leaving her next in line.
Growing up, Elizabeth learned from her mother’s instruction as well as from her visiting teachers about music and languages. During World War II, she and her sister Princess Margaret would travel to Scotland where they would be safe from harm. Elizabeth’s future husband Prince Philip was busy being an active part of the war as a naval officer, a heroism for which he would later be recognized.
Elizabeth would marry Prince Philip, at the time Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten of the Royal Navy, on November 20, 1947 at Westminster Abbey. The match was actually considered unfavorable because of Prince Philip’s German descent. But despite that, the queen pressed forward in what would be a very happy marriage. She has been quoted as saying of him, “My husband has quite simply been my strength and stay all these years, and I owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim.”
She gave birth to Prince Charles in 1948. Her father King George VI’s health was in rapid decline at this point, and she would take over many of his duties alongside Prince Philip such as Trooping the Color. When King George VI passed in 1952, Queen Elizabeth took over in what would become the longest reign in Britain's history.
Queen Elizabeth had a fulfilling personal life with her husband Prince Philip, and the loving mother shared three more children with him: Princess Anne, Prince Andrew, and Prince Edward. Prince Philip unfortunately passed away recently, but the life they led together remains an example of devotion in marriage.
Under her leadership, the monarchy has been catapulted into the modern era. She would be the first to open the doors to television, and more recently, even social media. She was the first to allow divorce, which her sister Princess Margaret went through.
She has been a compassionate monarch who cares a great deal about her role. She once said of her role, “I cannot lead you into battle. I do not give you laws or administer justice but I can do something else — I can give my heart and my devotion to these old islands and to all the peoples of the brotherhood of our nations.” When she isn’t busy with the many duties that she holds as the Queen of England and the other Commonwealth countries, the queen loves to ride horses (yes, still, even in her nineties!).
One way the queen has left her mark is very visual — it’s her timeless sense of style. Let’s take a look at nine decades of classic fashion, shall we?
In the 1920s, little Elizabeth was not yet in line to be queen, but despite her royal lineage, she looked like a very typical toddler. When she wasn’t being formally photographed, the outfits she wore were much less formal. (And look, even as a baby she wore pearls!)
What look is more classic than ruffles for a young girl? But when it wasn’t a special occasion, her clothing was much simpler. Who knew Queen Elizabeth II once dressed like a typical schoolgirl of the ‘30s? Knee socks, a peacoat, and a hat over a simple dress would do for the young royal.
The ‘40s is when we see Queen Elizabeth grow from a girl to a young woman, wife, and mother. Her wardrobe is very ladylike, but simple and subtle. Her more structured shoulders later into the decade reflect the military influence on fashion at the time.
In 1952 after her father King George VI’s passing, Elizabeth officially became queen. She transitions out of the more casual dresses of the 1940s in favor of pleats and sweetheart necklines.
It’s in the ‘60s when we first begin to see the queen regularly don hats. She gravitated towards fitted caps with petal-like detailing at the time. She discovered the skirt suit and favored peacoats for cooler outings.
In the ‘70s Queen Elizabeth’s affection for skirt suit sets and coats remained, but the hats became more structured than the caps of the ‘60s. Brighter colors and busier patterns begin to enter the scene.
While much of the queen’s style stayed consistent during the ‘80s, the influx of prints during the decade can not be missed. Her pearl earrings and necklace show their true versatility with all the prints she was able to wear them with. (Also notice the coordinating brooch for each outfit.)
The queen’s style in the ‘90s was so classic and not too far off from what you might see her wear today. Her signature brooches and pearls are present, and her outfits, while conservative, are always brightly colored.
The 2000s is so much like the queen’s style today that to the untrained eye you might not notice a difference. She embraced lots of spring colors and her famous sets in classic silhouettes but with varying colors and patterns.
In the last decade, the queen’s style is exactly how we think of it as being today. The colors became more saturated than ever before during the 2010s. She has her look down to a tee, and it’s perfect for her.
It’s a little too early into this decade to tell how Her Majesty’s style will change, if at all. Her big hats have an equally big smile to match, so whatever she’s wearing in these next years, she’ll look wonderful.
Queen Elizabeth recently turned 95 years old, and she definitely has the life experience to show it. Her style has remained classic, unyielding to trends, and utterly regal through it all. If that isn’t what makes a style icon, I don’t know what does.
If you want more royal fashion tips, check out these style guides:
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