No One Noticed Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Malfunction During Her Coronation
While we can only imagine what it must have been like for Queen Elizabeth II on her coronation day in 1953, she actually didn’t make it sound very pleasant when she shared memories of the event in a rare interview with BBC from 2018. After an apparently bumpy ride in her gold carriage, the late British sovereign almost had a wardrobe malfunction because of her dress and even risked breaking her neck because of her heavy crown.
For her special day, Queen Elizabeth’s dress was designed by British fashion designer Norman Hartnell. It was made of white satin, embroidered in gold and silver thread with the emblems of the UK and the Commonwealth, and decorated with pearls. While absolutely beautiful, the gown was, as it turns out, not very practical. The queen recalled how the heavy dress made it a bit difficult to move forward, saying: “I remember one moment when I was going against the pile of the carpet and I couldn’t move at all.” On her way back to Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth wore the newly made Purple Robe of Estate, which took a team of 12 seamstresses and 3,500 hours to complete.
On top of her diamond necklace, earrings, brooch, and other priceless pieces of regalia, Queen Elizabeth got to wear quite a few jewels to complete the look. On her way to Westminster Abbey, she wore the George IV State Diadem, which is now depicted on stamps in the UK. Made in 1820, it features roses, shamrocks, and thistles, and is made with 1,333 diamonds and 169 pearls.
During the coronation service, the St Edward’s Crown was placed on her head. Made of solid gold in 1661, it weighs 4 pounds and 12 ounces, and is so precious that it could only be held by the queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the crown jeweler. Although, despite its value, Queen Elizabeth didn’t seem to be too precious about it.
Finally, the queen wore the diamond-encrusted Imperial State Crown on her journey back to Buckingham Palace. Despite its beauty (I mean, it is adorned with 2,901 precious stones), Queen Elizabeth doesn’t seem too fond of the historical object. “Once you’ve put it on, it stays,” she told BBC. “And you can’t look down to read the speech, you have to take the speech up. Because if you did, your neck would break, it would fall off. So there are some disadvantages to crowns, but otherwise, they’re quite important things.”
Scroll to see more glimpses of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation outfit, and then find out details about the controversy behind Camilla, the Queen Consort’s coronation crown, which she’ll wear at King Charles’s ceremony on May 6.