Keeping up with the royals

A panoply of millinery excess, dress uniforms and velvet robes

If there is one week of the year that royal photographers in Britain never take off, it’s this one. It starts on Saturday with the grand Trooping the Colour ceremony in London, continues with the ornate Order of the Garter service at Windsor Castle and ends with days upon days of racing at Ascot. It’s a panoply of millinery excess, dress uniforms, floor-length velvet robes and a more than a few lessons in how to curtsy.

Trooping the Colour: Lots of soldiers, lots of ceremony, and enough royal cousins to fill the balcony at Buckingham Palace. It’s all to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday (her actual one is in April, so they hold it in June for better weather).


For everything you ever thought you could possibly want to know about Kate’s outfit, is a one-stop shop. For those obsessed with etiquette, take a gander at the curtsies performed by Kate and Sophie, countess of Wessex—the feat is even more impressive given their towering heels. (In fairness, there are other fab Kate fashion sites, including HRH Duchess Kate, which notes that the outfit for Trooping the Colour seems to have skulls woven into the fabric.) And check out Kate’s visit to Bletchley Park, where her grandmother served during the Second World War. Bletchley was the top-secret, code-breaking heart of the British war effort.

The Order of the Garter may be the oldest order of chivalry in the world, but it comes with absolutely outrageous outfits worthy of Elton John at the height of his flamboyance. To avoid clashing, spouses of Garter ladies or knights usually wear the plainest of outfits, except Sophie, countess of Wessex, who was clearly trying—and failing—to “out-feather” her be-plumed husband, Prince Edward. It’s such a confidently over-the-top outfit that one wonders what she’d wear to a state opening of Parliament—everyone else dresses in white gowns, but Sophie’s more of a pink sort of royal.

Luckily she came to her fashion senses the next day at Ascot.  

The five days of Royal Ascot is known for two things: being the top racing event of the year and for being a designer catwalk, albeit one where every woman is wearing the most extravagant hats possible, proving yet again that the British are truly obsessed with millinery. They’ll even bet on the Queen’s hat colour, though gambling was suspended on the first day when a suspiciously large bet on yellow was placed. Unfortunately for that mystery wagerer, Her Majesty wore “duck egg blue.” (The fashion obsession extended beyond hat choices, even for the Queen, who, at 88, unveiled three new brooches and a new silhouette (a more fitted, flowing coat that opens to reveal printed dresses). Check out the octogenarian design update at From Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault.)

Think I’m exaggerating?

The Daily Mail‘s take on day one is here

Go Fug Yourself deconstructs the fashion of day two here.

And day three, when women bring out their best hats, is here. Check out Princess Anne’s bright pink hat, a far cry from the dated outfit she wore on day one that was ID’d by royal fashion bloggers as being first worn in the 1980s.

Just before popping off to Ascot, the Queen met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who was on an official visit. According to the Telegraph, Li threatened to cancel the trip if he didn’t get a photo op with Elizabeth II, proving that pretty much everyone, including Communist leaders, has fantasies of having tea with the Queen. Why else would North Korea have sent felicitations—wishing her “good health” and happiness—for her official birthday?

As if the week wasn’t already choc-a-bloc full of royals:

With the abdication of Juan Carlos, Spain got a new king: Felipe VI, and the youngest heiress to the throne in Europe in eight-year-old Leonor. Though the transfer was deliberately low-key, in recognition of the scandals plaguing the family and the nation’s tough economic situation, tens of thousands turned out for the event.


The bones of Richard III wouldn’t have been identified without a DNA match from Canadian-born Michael Ibsen, his 17th-generation nephew. Now the cabinetmaker has been awarded the commission to create the coffin for the last English king slain in battle. The bones will be placed in a lead-line ossuary that will itself be inside Ibsen’s oak coffin. A funeral is planned for later this year at Leicester Cathedral.

While Kate was wearing hats and waving, her sister, Pippa, showed off some serious spandex as she cycled across the United States for the British Heart Foundation.


Since everyone loves a baby, here’s the newest princess in the tiny duchy of Luxembourg

Finally: Cheeks! Officially he’s HRH Prince George of Wales, but come on, doesn’t he look like a “Cheeks”? Still no sign of a smile, but he’s oh so close to going walkabout in his future kingdom. And really, the only thing more adorable than a babe in arms is one making his first tentative steps.


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