Queen Elizabeth II’s Life in Looks

Remember the late royal by revisiting what she wore to her wedding, coronation, and more.

Queen Elizabeth II with one of her corgis
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It’s perhaps impossible to overstate the enormous legacy of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away peacefully at Balmoral Castle in the Highlands of Scotland on Thursday at age 96. A relatively small but significant portion of it comprises her personal style. England’s longest-reigning monarch started off dressing conservatively, favoring white dresses back in her princess days. But as the decades wore on, she slowly but surely decided to branch out. Color became a necessity when she began matching the national flags of the countries she visited on her royal tours, and by the time she’d hit her 50th year on the throne, in 2002, she’d opened herself up to the whole rainbow. In the years leading up to her passing, it wasn’t unusual to find her dressed in neon pink or highlighter green—typically from head to toe, as she had a habit of coordinating even her umbrellas with her ensembles. In remembrance, take a look back at what she chose to wear on some of the most memorable events of her life.

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Queen Elizabeth II celebrated turning 14 by dressing up in a voluminous tulle gown that had her matching her sister, Princess Margaret.

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An assembly of the Governors Court at the Queen Elizabeth children’s hospital made for the young Elizabeth’s first solo engagement. Rather than play it safe, she stood out in a statement hat.

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Back in her late teens, the Queen spent many of her days in an officer’s uniform. She was appointed honorary second subaltern of the Auxiliary Territorial Service in 1945, and after five months of training as a driver and mechanic, was bumped up to honorary junior commander, a rank akin to captain for women.

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Then Princess Elizabeth wore white dress after white dress in the years surrounding her engagement to Philip in 1947. Here, the one she chose for the official announcement.

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She was first photographed with her fiancé, who then went by Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, wearing an A-line coat and two-tone heels.

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The Queen’s wedding gown was always going to be major, and Norman Hartnell—the designer she went to enlist for her coronation gown as well—didn’t disappoint. The Chinese silk design had a surprisingly short train, but the same most definitely cannot be said for her 13-foot lace veil.

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In October 1952, Buckingham Palace placed an order for the gown that she would wear to her coronation—which was set all the way off in June 1953. All told, it took some unsung seamstresses eight months to make the Queen look fit for, well, a queen. The bulk of their time was spent on the embroidery, which took the form of flora and fauna that represented the nations and states that would become her kingdom.

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Surprisingly, it wasn’t the last we saw of the design feat. The Queen went on to wear it at least four more times, including at a Canadian Parliamentary session in 1957. Sans the absolutely enormous Robe of State of Crimson Velvet, its embroidery could finally be appreciated in all its glory.

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For the Melbourne stop on her highly anticipated 1954 Australia tour, the Queen stuck with her tradition of nodding to a country’s national colors and culture. With green and gold as her options she chose the latter and accessorized her semi-sheer gown with white evening gloves.

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Lo and behold, when she returned Down Under for her first walkabout on the occasion of the 1970 Silver Jubilee, the royal was again on theme.

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She welcomed Princess Diana into the family in 1981 wearing one of many boldly-hued monochrome looks to come.

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The Queen had one hell of a year in 1992. (As if a Princess Di tell-all book weren’t enough, Windsor Castle caught fire, two of her kids divorced... the list goes on.) Fortunately for her, throughout it all, she had her beloved horses. Her, an instance of her more casual style at the Windsor Horse Show during her annus horribilis.

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What better color than a goldenrod yellow to wear to her Golden Jubilee—or 50-year anniversary of her reign—in 2002?

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Over the years, the Queen—seen here in 2017—became known for coordinating with even her umbrella.

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A highlighter green ensemble would have shocked earlier in the Queen’s reign, but no one batted an eye at the 2016 Trooping the Colour.

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The Queen was again unmissable in green when she made headlines for appearing to get along swimmingly with Meghan Markle. The joyous photos were taken in June 2018, two months after Markle married her grandson Prince Harry.

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November 4, 2020 marked the first time the public saw the Queen in a face mask. She selected one in black cloth to match her mourning attire while honoring unknown World War I soldiers at Westminster Abbey.

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The cardigan and plaid skirt she wore to greet Prime Minister Liz Truss would end up being the last pictured in a photograph.