As The Queen turns to ‘Cadbury Purple’ at Westminster Abbey, the hidden significance of colour in her wardrobe


Today, the Queen stepped out in an all-purple ensemble to attend a Thanksgiving service that also marked 60 years of the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  Her particular shade of purple (shall we call it Cadbury?) packed a punch when set against Westminster Abbey’s grey stonework, but also stood next to the Dean of Westminster in his contrasting golden cloak. But, of course, she knew it would. The Queen has 63 years of experience in using colour to stand out.

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The Queen 

The Queen at Westminster Abbey today. Credit: Rex

Indeed, when she marked the start of her 90th birthday celebrations earlier this year, the Queen kicked things off in top-to-toe fuchsia. Created by Angela Kelly, who has been the Queen’s personal dresser since 1994, the outfit would have been painstakingly planned. Likewise, opinion dividing the neon green dress coat and matching hat which she wore for the Trooping of the Colour- an outfit which prompted a 134% uplift in sales of neon items. 

In a book released four years ago Kelly revealed that she sketches at least four different designs for a particular piece of fabric and that a fan is used to test how material will move in the breeze before the final creation is decided upon. 


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queen elizabeth neon green 90th

The Queen in neon at this year’s Trooping the Colour Credit: Rex

The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday with a bold floral look

The Queen celebrates her 90th birthday with a bold floral look Credit:  Geoff Pugh

She also talked of the significance attached to colour in the Queen’s wardrobe – both to ensure Her Majesty stands out in a crowd and to pay a subtle tribute to the event. Think for example of the dazzling green outfit that Her Majesty wore to touch down in Dublin on her landmark visit to Ireland in 2011 – or the white outfit The Queen wore on the Thames River Pageant that was designed to contrast against the boat’s red seats.  

“I have to be seen to be believed,” the Queen has said. And a colourful wardrobe plays a key role in fulfilling this mantra. From zingy violet and hot pink to lime and sunshine yellow, there is no colour that clashes with Her Majesty – the only one she avoids is beige, which does not allow her to stand out in a crowd. 

In 2012 British Vogue magazine published a graphic tracking the bold spectrum of colour the Queen wore across the course of a year. The results were illuminating: 29 per cent blue, 10 per cent pink, 13 per cent floral. For schools, the Queen turns to jolly, bright colours and embellishment like ribbons designed to appeal to children. Yellow is her happy colour; black the one she only wears when expressing condolence.  

So what does today’s purple outfit prove? That as Queen Elizabeth II rounds off her 90th birthday year she’s doing what she has in more than 63 years of dressing for the public eye – not putting a patent-court-shod foot wrong. 

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