Britain · Guest Author

Community Week – Windsors in Canada (Clothes and Jewels)

Thank you to geogirl and Wendy1 for this series of posts!
Read the Preface, here, and Brunswick, here.

The Daywear

Elizabeth’s mother had died in 1938, and so Norman Hartnell (of QEll’s coronation and wedding dress fame) designed the famous all-white mourning wardrobe for her delayed state visit to France that year. In Canada, in 1939 Elizabeth wore elements of this white wardrobe as well as plenty of blue and mint green. Many of her dresses had touches of fur, at the cuffs or at the collar. Arrival outfit had a chiffon cape with a deep fur trim at its hem. The Queen even went underground in a mine in Sudbury and here she wore a hard hat and protective outerwear. Her daytime jewelry choices were invariably a string of pearls and a good-sized set of pearl earrings. As you go though these pictures, watch sharply for brooches and clips! (Editors Note: Click through the galleries to enlarge the photos! These photos are the property of the guest authors.)

The Tiaras and other Jewellery

Queen Elizabeth wore at least three tiaras on the trip – thank you, BoSS, for the details –

  • Her favourite, the Oriental Circlet (gifted to Queen Elizabeth by Queen Mary in 1937 when King George Vl inherited the throne) was worn for the Opening of the Canadian Parliament along with a heavy diamond bracelet, possibly her Queen Victoria Bracelet, and pearl and diamond earrings – possibly from the Queen Alexandra Wedding Parure.
    ⦁ Queen Mary’s Fringe (given to Queen Elizabeth in 1936 by Queen Mary) was worn to a formal event in Montreal.
    ⦁ Finally, she wore the Teck Crescent, a less substantial tiara, to wave to one’s admirers from the back of the train (as one does) after a formal banquet.

Check out the daywear section and the various other images, and see if you can spot anything else – who can find the gifts hidden there?

The Maple Leaf Brooch

According to the Mothership, King George VI bought the brooch for Elizabeth to commemorate this state visit. Supposedly, she wore it on the crossing, throughout the tour and frequently thereafter but we could not find images of that. However, we did find this interesting aside on the purchase here!

Pictures of the Tiara Moments on the Canadian Tour:

The photos above are at the Parliament opening. Descriptions from the time state that her gown was white satin and gold brocade with a wide-hooped panniered skirt and scalloped train. The photo at right was hand-tinted but it seems that the person who did the tinting didn’t know the details of her gown’s colouring so they took the liberty of tinting it pale blue which, in fairness, was her predominate colour of the tour.

The First Walkabout

The royal walkabout first happened in Ottawa on this trip. After dedicating the National War Memorial, the royal couple, rather than returning to their motorcade, spent half an hour mingling with 25,000 First World War veterans who were part of a crowd of at least 100,000 people. The CBC radio announcer covering the event was stunned and described the warm rapport thus “One these old veterans is patting the King most affectionately on the shoulder…Her Majesty is chattering with one of the veterans of the amputations association…The Queen is speaking to a blind veteran now…The King is shaking hands…”

“Canada Made Us”

Although the original purpose of the 1939 tour was to allow the monarch to engage with Canadians as King of Canada, the impending outbreak of war in September that year further shaped the significance of the event.

For Queen Elizabeth, the 1939 tour began a lifelong personal relationship with Canada and helped establish her and her husband as modern monarchs. She would later say that “Canada made us”.

An enduring symbol of the Canadian tour was of Their Majesties waving from the observation platform at the back of the Royal Train. This is how many Canadians – especially those who lived outside of the larger cities – saw their King and Queen.

Links Comprehensive 90-minute complete coverage from the CBC

Interesting rare color footage – short clips. (check out the end for the closing waves from the train) well-produced clip incorporating great color footage – the royal part starts at 0:45, the mine coverage at 2:15 – and you can see Queen Elizabeth in a hard hat here – also notice that King George has a light (strung around his neck) but not the queen! the Toronto visit. A lady in waiting riding in a police side car (keeping her head down!), the cape dress and King George walking, sword in hand, about 2:40