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From London, With Love

Rachel McCrea, Writer

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A few weeks ago I got to enjoy the pleasure of having my family visit me here in London! My mother, aunt, and grandmother all crossed an ocean to see me and explore London before they moved on to Amsterdam for a week. I know, I know, fun times right? Well, I got to experience something truly extraordinary. I went to Buckingham Palace and was able to see the State Rooms and, as a part of the Queen’s 90th birthday celebration, saw a selection of outfits from her wardrobe on display for the public to see in the palace. Now, when I say a selection of outfits, I don’t mean just a handful of dresses and suits that the Queen routinely wears; I mean dresses from when she was a little girl all the way up to outfits she’s worn in the past few years. There were entire rooms filled with these gorgeous, handcrafted pieces of art, all worn by one of the most stylish women of our time.

I was left completely speechless as I walked through the exhibit, surrounded by dresses and suits worn by Her Majesty, the Queen. I got to be just a few feet away from her wedding dress and the dress she wore for her coronation. To be able to see the detail that was put into every single one of them was outstanding. Most of these outfits weren’t even under glass; I could have reached out and touched any of them, I was so close. Of course, I would have immediately been tackled and escorted out of the palace, but it would have probably been worth it. Another amazing piece of the exhibit were the designers’ sketches of these outfits. Just to see the concept thought out as it was put to paper is something people rarely get to see or even think about, and it was a detail that I greatly appreciated as a lover of fashion design.

Besides getting to see all of these outfits, each one had a little plaque next to it describing the outfit, such as who the designer was, where and when the Queen wore it, and perhaps a small fun fact about the outfit. These were often paired with the audio tour for the exhibit. As I made my way through the exhibit, I was fascinated to learn about all of the thought that went into each outfit designed for Her Majesty, especially her wardrobe for state visits to other countries. For example, depending on where the Queen is visiting, her wardrobe will be specifically tailored to reflect aspects of that culture or respect certain restrictions of the culture. In one case, when Queen Elizabeth II visited Saudi Arabia, she wore a long dress with long sleeves that respected the notion that women were supposed to keep their bodies covered. And when she visited Canada, the waistline of her dress was embroidered with maple leaves, the national symbol.

My favorite part of the whole exhibit, however, was getting to see the collection of hats that were on display. An entire corridor was dedicated just to some of the many hats the Queen has worn over the past several decades. I am personally obsessed with hats and when I think of the Queen, I think firstly of her hats. One bit of information that I picked up was that when designing a hat for Her Majesty, the whole outfit is taken into account. The Queen is typically dressed in a solid color, usually with some smaller design elements to make it more stylish, and then a hat is made to match that outfit, with some kind of embellishment to give it some flair. The whole concept of the Queen wearing a hat came about from the fact that whenever the royal carriages would be brought out, people would always strain to pick out the Queen. The hats are there for her to be instantly recognized.

While the draw of the Queen’s wardrobe was the main event, we also were able to see the State Rooms, which included several of the drawing rooms, the music room, the Queen’s Gallery (which included paintings by Rembrandt, among other artists), and the Throne Room. Several of these rooms also offered a view of the sprawling gardens, a view that simply takes your breath away.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried several times during that visit to Buckingham Palace. The beauty of everything, inside and out, made me want to stay forever. I mean, Prince Harry is still single, so I may have a chance.

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The student news site of Millikin University
From London, With Love