Exclusive: The Queen’s wardrobe secrets revealed

You will never guess how many pairs of gloves the monarch goes through in a day – or what is really in her famous handbag.

In our exclusive extract from The Royals in Australia, the fascinating new book by Juliet Rieden, The Weekly’s Deputy Editor and Royal Correspondent, we reveal the secrets behind the Queen’s royal tour wardrobe.

Her Majesty's style guide, tips and tricks

DRESSES

  • Sometimes a straight lining is sewn underneath a flared skirt so if the skirt is blown up, the lining isn’t.
  • Weights are occasionally sewn into the hems of skirts that may lift in a breeze.
  • Fabrics must not crease or crush when Her Majesty sits down, and need to be heavy enough to hang well.
  • Day dresses and skirts in the late 1960s and 1970s crept above the knee, but today are just below the knee.
  • Cocktail dresses are never longer than the lower calf.
  • All dresses need to be easy to stand and sit in, with special attention given to getting in and out of cars.
  • Splits must not be revealing when Her Majesty sits down.
  • Long gowns must stop just shy of the floor, and not impede walking.
  • Beads or crystals on fabrics must not be so large that the dress is uncomfortable to wear and sit in.

COATS AND JACKETS

  • Cuffs must not catch on jewellery – such as the Queen’s watch or a bracelet.
  • Necklines or collars and lapels must not impede the Queen’s movements or stand too high.
  • Fitting is tailored – not too loose.

SLEEVES

  • While sleeveless dresses and short sleeves featured in the Queen’s early wardrobe, today sleeves are always three-quarter length or full length. The latter stop at the wrist to avoid dipping in soup.

HATS

  • Must be off the face and secure so Her Majesty can have both hands free.
  • Are secured using two hatpins covered in the same material as the hat and sometimes with a comb sewn into the crown of the hat.
  • Must not have a wide brim that prevents people from seeing Her Majesty’s face.
  • Must not drop at the back to impede Her Majesty’s collar or sitting in a car.
  • Must not have scarves, fabric or feathers that can flap across Her Majesty’s face.

GLOVES

  • The Queen wears up to five pairs a day.
  • The gloves, all made by Cornelia James, are pure cotton jersey, to allow the hands to breathe, and in a variety of colours to match each outfit.
  • Evening gloves are three-quarter length to the elbow.

HANDBAGS

  • The majority of the Queen’s handbags are custom-made by Launer and similar in shape and style. Her Majesty has been a customer for almost 50 years.
  • All Her Majesty’s handbags are lightweight, with a large loop handle that can fit over her arm without impeding handshaking.
  • Smaller bags are used for eveningwear, but still with the loop handle.
  • What is in the Queen’s handbag has fuelled hundreds of newspaper column inches with no conclusion. In 2014 Her Majesty was photographed taking a lipstick out of her bag, but another essential would certainly be one of the Queen’s hand-stitched handkerchiefs. The collection of royal hankies includes white for the morning and tartan for the country.

SHOES

  • Rayne made the Queen’s shoes until 1993, as well as those for many other members of the royal family.
  • In her twenties, Her Majesty wore peep-toe sandals and slimmer heels, but the monarch has worn the same courts with a brass chain or bow feature for five decades. The original Rayne shoes are now made by Anello & Davide of Kensington, who bought the wooden lasts (foot model) made from the Queen’s foot and took over the commission from Rayne. The courts are handmade in calf leather in black, patent black, white and beige.
  • Day shoes have a two-inch heel. An additional sole is sometimes added for wearing on grass.
  • Evening shoes are low-heeled slippers made in gold or silver kid, or courts with a T-bar or silk bow.

UMBRELLAS

  • The Queen uses one model of umbrella for official occasions. It is bell-shaped and transparent so that the monarch can still be seen even in the wettest conditions.
  • Umbrellas have a coloured trim, which is matched to Her Majesty’s outfit.

The Royals in Australia by Juliet Rieden, published by Pan Macmillan, is on sale now.

Join The Weekly for an exclusive morning tea to celebrate the launch of The Royals in Australia. For more information and tickets, click here.

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