Fashioning A Reign & Buckingham Palace: A Review

August 12, 2016

By Tab Byrum

A member of the Royal Collection Trust poses for photographers ahead of the opening of an exhibition at Buckingham Palace, in London

During our trip to London, we were fortunate enough to be able to visit Buckingham Palace, during the months of August and early September the doors to the Palace are thrown open to the public while Queen Elizabeth is on holiday. On the tour you are allowed to make your way through 19 rooms that are known as The State Rooms, these are rooms in the Palace that are used for official functions such as State Dinners and meeting with other world leaders and heads of state. The tour was very enjoyable since you were allowed to proceed through the Palace at your own speed and listen to facts on the different rooms through portable speakers you carry with you. Over the last several years there have been special exhibitions at the Palace during the Summer opening and this year’s is Fashioning A Reign, a look at the clothing and wardrobe of Queen Elizabeth during her 90 years of life and 64 years on the British Throne. There is no photography allowed in the Palace during the tour so I’ll have to rely on the internet to provide some images I can share with you but I’ll definitely give you my own descriptions of what we saw, so grab your hat and cup of tea as we tour the house that royalty built. Enjoy!!! (above image via)


When you enter Buckingham Palace you enter through the Ambassador’s Entrance and this is the first room you see. It’s a sumptuous room with beautiful red carpets, marble columns, fragile looking antique furnishings and beautiful statuary. It’s rather overwhelming when you think about all the world leaders that have passed through this hall on their way to a Royal audience or State Dinner. From this entrance hall,  you head up the stairs to left. (via)


After making your way upstairs you enter the first room of the Fashioning A Reign exhibition, here you see several different outfits worn by Queen Elizabeth during her life. These are the gowns she and her younger sister Princess Margaret wore to their parents’ coronation in 1937 at the ages of 11 and 6. (via)


These two coats were also worn by Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret in the 1930’s, everyone was always anxious to see what the little princesses would be wearing. (via)


This is the first time that Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown and coronation gown have been exhibited in the same place at the same time. This is her wedding gown, veil, and shoes the then Princess Elizabeth wore when she married the dashing Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark in November 1947. The dress was designed and created by British designer Norman Hartnell and is embroidered with 10,000 seed pearls and thousands of beads, many of which came from the United States. (via)


Hartnell was also the designer six years later of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation gown, this is looked at as probably the most important piece of clothing the Queen has ever worn. The gown is covered in pearls and beads as well as symbols of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth. There are Irish Shamrocks, Scottish Thistles, New Zealand Wattles and English Roses to name just a few of the decorations on the gown. (via)


There are several examples of the amazing evening gowns the Queen has worn over the last 64 years on the throne as well as the glamorous evening jackets and coats. I love that they included pictures of Her Majesty wearing the clothing behind the display.  (via)


One thing the Queen is known for is her hats and they are represented  throughout the exhibit. The hats come in all colors, shapes, sizes, materials, and are a marvel to look at. (via)


The Ballroom of Buckingham Palace houses the largest and most colorful section of the exhibit with many of the day outfits and evening gowns on display. Again, behind the clothes are pictures of the Queen wearing the outfit. (via)


This section of the exhibit is devoted to the clothes worn by Her Majesty to different royal weddings as a guest. At the far end is the yellow dress and hat she wore in 2011 for the wedding of William and Kate. (via)


Once you finish viewing the Fashioning A Reign display you are back to touring the amazing rooms of Buckingham Palace. This is the Blue Drawing Room, it gets its name from the blue fabric used on the furniture and the draperies. On the wall to the right are two massive portraits of King George V and Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth’s grandparents. (via)

The White Drawing Room is one of the most glamorous rooms in the Palace. The painting at the far end is of Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII and the current Queen’s great-grandmother. On either side of the fireplace are two large mirrors, those mirrors are attached to the front of doors that swing open, moving the chests in front of them and allowing you to move unseen from room to room. The light fixtures throughout the Palace are amazing. (via)

Photo: Derry Moore

The Green Drawing room is named for the green silk covering the walls of the room and the green fabrics on the furniture and drapes. (via)


This is the Throne Room, the chairs at the far end of the room are the ones that Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip sat in during their 1953 Coronation. The Throne Room is truly regal with the rich crimson fabrics used throughout and the grand crystal chandeliers. You can’t see it in this picture but to the left of the thrones is a painting of Queen Elizabeth in her Royal robes and a throng of Corgis around her feet. This was probably my favorite room in the Palace. (via)


Marble Hall is so named for all the marble statues, this is one of the last rooms you see before entering the Bow Room and then exiting to the Gardens. (via)

If you ever are going to be in London during the Summer Holidays be sure and see when the Palace is open for tours and buy your tickets online beforehand. It is truly amazing to go in these buildings we’ve only seen on television and to think of all the history that has happened here. The Palace and its rooms are unlike anything you will ever experience. I’ve hoped you’ve enjoyed hearing about our English adventure, come back next week and I’ll share the highlights of our trip as we move on to Amsterdam. 

All words are my own.

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