Fit for a Queen
This Saturday (June 14) marks the Queen’s official birthday and London will be celebrating in style with the annual Trooping the Colour. The military parade has all the pomp and ceremony you would expect from a royal tradition which has marked the official birthday of the Sovereign since 1748. The colourful event is also known as The Queen’s Birthday Parade and is carried out by fully trained and operational troops from the Household Division (Foot Guards and Household Cavalry) on Horse Guards Parade in Whitehall.
During the ceremony, The Queen is greeted by a Royal salute and carries out an inspection of the troops. The massed bands will then perform a musical ‘troop’ before the escorted Regimental Colour is carried down the ranks. The spectacle will draw to a close with the Royal Family gathered on the balcony of Buckingham Palace for a fly-past by the Royal Air Force. The Queen took her first salute in 1951 when she was still Princess Elizabeth and has attended Trooping the Colour every year of her reign, except in 1955 when a national rail strike cancelled the event.
Last week The Queen paid a state visit to France at the invitation of President François Hollande to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings on Normandy beaches.
The Queen lays a wreath at a memorial service in Bayeux War Cemetery last week (Friday, June 6).
Back in 2004 curators of Kensington Palace commemorated the 60th anniversary of D-Day (June 6, 1944) with an exhibition of 12 examples of The Queen’s clothing entitled The Queen’s Working Wardrobe: Memories of Royal Occasions, 1945-1972. The earliest outfit example was a standard issue World War II uniform which Princess Elizabeth wore at the age of 18, when she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service as Cadet No. 230873, Second Subaltern Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor. She was often photographed in the uniform changing a tyre or driving a military truck and we are extremely proud of the fact her name tag featured the Hawes & Curtis name too by Royal Appointment.
Left: The future Queen changing a truck tyre as Junior Commander Mildred looks on.
Right: Princess Elizabeth in full Auxiliary Territorial Service uniform posing next to an Austin K2 Ambulance.
Princess Elizabeth undertook training in motor vehicle maintenance and driving at the Camberley base in Surrey. She wore the same outfit as all the other girls and had to sit the same exams. She was promoted to Junior Commander a few days before the end of the war. The uniform was made up of a khaki battledress jacket and trousers with a shirt, tie, cap, pullover and hand-knitted muffler. The then Princess liked it so much that she sent in some clothing coupons and asked if she could keep the uniform when the war ended.
Left: Princess Elizabeth’s Auxiliary Territorial Service battledress uniform on display at Kensington Palace.
Right: An Auxiliary Territorial Service name-tagged shirt worn by Princess Elizabeth during the Second World War.
Even before she became queen in 1952, Elizabeth patronised British dress designers, in particular Norman Hartnell, who created her wedding and coronation gowns. A great example of his work was a long black velvet off-the-shoulders ballgown which was also displayed at Kensington Palace for the Queen’s Working Wardrobe exhibition. The Queen wore this stunning dress to the premiere of the film The Battle of the River Plate at the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square in 1956, where she met the glamorous film star Marilyn Monroe. The film was about Britain’s first successful naval battle against the Germans in the South Atlantic, at the beginning of World War II. It was later released in the United States as The Pursuit of Graf Spee.
The Queen meeting Marilyn Monroe at the premier of The Battle of the River Plate in London 1956.
Queen laying a wreath in Bayeux War Cemetery from the BBC News website.
Princess Elizabeth in Auxiliary Territorial Service uniform from the Daily Mail’s website – copyright Caters News Agency.
Auxiliary Territorial Service uniform on display in Kensington Palace from the Daily Mail’s website – copyright EPA.
The Queen meeting Marilyn Monroe taken from an article published in The Times T2 supplement (July 19, 2004).