Designer Diaries – Prince Albert and the Balmoral Tartan

Note: Thanks to Baguette geogirl for providing the idea and source material for this timely post. The Queen, joined by Prince William and his family, is currently in residence at the estate.

The Balmoral Tartan was designed in 1857 by HRH Prince Albert, Prince Consort to Queen Victoria and was named after their Castle in Deeside. It is composed of different rations of black and white threads which represent the subtle greys of the Deeside granite.

Royal Warrants and Balmoral Tartan… – Kinloch Anderson
Prince Albert, wearing Balmoral Tartan

Imagine having your OWN fabric.  Something loaded with history, made for your family, and people need your PERSONAL permission to wear it.  Yep, our Queen Elizabeth has this. 

Specimen of the original Balmoral Tartan

The Balmoral tartan has been around since the mid-nineteenth century. Designed by Prince Albert, the consort of Queen Victoria, it is worn only “with the permission of the sovereign”.  The prince studied law, political economy, philosophy and the history of art at the University of Bonn. Heavily influenced by his studies, he lived by the credo that art and design had great significance in society. Albert was an amateur artist and designed buildings, interiors, and jewelry – many pieces well known to royal followers. There are over 500 works created, designed, or curated by him still in the British Royal Collection. In 1857, he approved the registration of the Balmoral tartan. To date, the Balmoral is the only known tartan designed by a member of the Royal Family.

Edward VIII wore the tartan when he was Prince of Wales. In 1936, the prince altered the tartan to lighten it up, and the royal family continues to wear the lighter shades and weight to this day.

Embed from Getty Images

George VI continued the family tradition and donned it when he was Duke of York. Other family members, including the Queen, Anne, Camilla, Sophie, Diana, and Zara, have worn it through the years.  There are several pictures of Diana wearing both the approved version and knock-offs. Another benefit of having your own personal tartan: packing for vacation is so much easier!

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

Embed from Getty Images

The Piper to the Sovereign and pipers on the Balmoral Estate are the other approved wearers of the Balmoral tartan.

Many of our British royals have worn this in both traditional kilt and other formats (caps through the generations, skirts, cast slings, scarves, lapel decoration, skirts, etc).  Here are some historical, musical, and family pictures, but there are plenty of photos left for you to spam if you want to add to our collection.

Let’s see your photos of tartans (Balmoral and all others) and – what the heck – any and all royals in kilts.

Will we ever see Prince William in a Balmoral tartan kilt again?