Hall of Fame, Historical Division – The Winter Queen Part 2: Elizabeth Stuart

Thank you to our community member geogirl for this Historical Hall of Fame. It’s a two parter. Yesterday, on the anniversary of Elizabeth Stuart’s death, we took a look at her life – and it was quite a life. Today we will discuss her wardrobe, and choose a Hall of Fame winner.

Elizabeth lived quite sumptuously in royal courts across Europe, but in changing times – the tail end of the Elizabethan era, then the Jacobites, the Cavaliers and the Puritans. Let’s take a look at her wardrobe and jewels over the decades….

Age 7 and 10

Princess Elizabeth at age 7, by Robert Peake (1603)
Princess Elizabeth at age 10, by Robert Peake

Lord Harrington indulged Elizabeth’s passion for nature, and in a secluded wilderness at the end of the park, arranged the construction of an aviary, a number of little wooden which housed paintings and stuffed animals and a miniature menagerie. This was later expanded to include meadows stocked with the smallest breeds of cattle from Jersey, Shetland and the Isle of Man. Elizabeth referred to her miniature world as ‘her Territories’ and ‘her Fairy farm’ and she engaged a pauper family as keeper of her birds and beasts.  James was clear in his instructions that the princess, unlike her Tudor predecessors and her brothers, was not required to spend her mornings learning Greek and Latin, but to educate her thoroughly in religion and a general knowledge of history. In her father’s opinion ‘to make women learned and foxes tame had the same effect – to make them more cunning’. Elizabeth would later ensure that her own daughters received a classical education, and worked to overcome her own deficiencies by offering to help her brother Henry with his Italian lessons if in exchange he taught her Latin.

For a 7 year old, Elizabeth is dressed as an adult with jewels on at her waist, down her front, on her sleeves, in her hair as well as earrings and a necklace!  Elizabeth’s age, 7, is inscribed on the fan, while the date 1603 (the year of the death of Elizabeth I and the succession of her father James to the English throne) is inscribed in the right background. Three years later, at 10, she still carries a fortune of jewels on her body, in her hair, around her neck and on her bodice!  Both show examples of reticulated lace.

Age 14

Princess Elizabeth at 14
Note the stomacher as hair ornament!

Our lovely princess here is 14 years old. She has marvellously large eyes and a bouffant hairdo complete with  a stomacher as hair ornament and a ruff of reticulated lace.

Elizabeth was married at 16 and unfortunately, we could not find a picture of Elizabeth’s wedding dress, but the 16 year old bride was reported as being resplendent in a cloth of shimmering silver lined with taffeta. Many diamonds of estimable value were embroidered upon her sleeves which dazzled the eyes of all the beholders. She wore a crown adorned with glittering diamonds and other precious stones ‘so thick beset, that they stood like shining pinnacles, upon her amber coloured hair.’ The sixteen noble bridesmaids attending the bride were also dressed in white satin, and adorned with such a cornucopia of jewels that her passage ‘looked like a milky way’.  The handsome bridegroom, also aged 16, was attired in a fitting counterpoint to his stunning bride. His white satin ensemble was richly embellished with pearls, symbolising purity and innocence and signifying a cosmic unity, a spiritual relationship between the two young people. The wedding service itself was conducted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the German-speaking groom uttered his well rehearsed vows in English, underlining the fact that through this union the Church of England was extending its influence across Europe. The teenage bride’s inability to stifle her giggles through her wedding vows did not lessen the importance of the occasion, and may have been occasioned by the her mischievous groom’s wedding gift of a monkey house. Indeed, her high spirits only served to endear her to her family and wedding guests.

Age 17

This picture is of Elizabeth in 1613 when she was 17. She was now a married lady and the Queen of Bohemia.  It shows her wearing a gold dress with a reticella collar worked with the English royal coat of arms with lions and unicorns worked into a standing lace collar. She wears a gown of Italian silk brocade. The black armband is thought to be a sign of mourning for her brother Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales who drowned in 1612.  Check out her jewellery in high resolution! Notice the order with the red bow.

Age 34

Elizabeth of Bohemia at 34

Here, Elizabeth is 34. She has the symbols of royalty around her – the orb, the scepter and the crown. Again, she is heavily pearled, but the more restrained fashions of the time are clear.

Later in Life

Alas, we all must age and so did Elizabeth.  These line engraving show her later in life, but still bejewelled! Again she is wearing the order and a massive display of pearls.

For more information, click here.

At which age do you prefer Elizabeth's clothes?

Hall of Fame, Historical Division – The Winter Queen Part 1: Elizabeth Stuart

Thank you to our community member geogirl for this Historical Hall of Fame. It’s a two parter. Today, on the anniversary of Elizabeth Stuart’s death, we will take a look at her life – and it was quite a life. Tomorrow we will discuss her sumptuous wardrobe, and choose a Hall of Fame winner.

Don’t you think she looks like Mary, Queen of Scots in this picture?

Who was Elizabeth Stuart? A most interesting lady and queen! The briefest of history lessons…

  • Elizabeth Stuart (19 August 1596 – 13 February 1662) was Electress of the Palatinate and briefly Queen of Bohemia as the wife of Frederick V of the Palatinate. Because her husband’s reign in Bohemia lasted for just one winter, Elizabeth is often referred to as the “Winter Queen”.
  • Elizabeth was the second child and eldest daughter of James VI and I, King of Scotland, England, and Ireland, and his wife, Anne of Denmark.  She was also the granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots and the great great granddaughter of Margaret Tudor, Henry Vlll’s older sister.  Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth l were first cousins once removed through King Henry VII of England.  But what about the paternal side?  Her grandfather, Henry, Lord Darnley was Mary Queen of Scot’s first cousin; they both had Margaret Tudor as grandmother and thus a connection to the English crown.  Darnley was also distantly related to the Scottish crown through his father, a descendent of James II. 
Elizabeth I and Mar,y, Queen of Scots
Mary, Queen of Scots and Lord Darnley
  • Elizabeth was born in Scotland on 19 August 1596 at 2 o’clock in the morning.  At the time of her birth, her father was King of Scots only because Elizabeth l was still alive. Elizabeth was named in honour of Queen Elizabeth 1 of England, her godmother and first cousin three times removed.
  • Elizabeth was christened in 1596 at Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh. It was not a lavish christening, despite Elizabeth’s status. In fact, James informed those who did decide to come that they must bring their own dinner!
  • In 1603 her father James succeeded Elizabeth I to the English throne. Young Elizabeth was given into the care of Lord and Lady Harrington and took up residence at Coombe Abbey, Warwickshire, England.
  • At 16, Elizabeth married Frederick (Friedrich) V, Count Palatine of the Rhine. Frederick was of undeniably high lineage. His ancestors included the kings of Aragon and Sicily, the landgraves of Hesse, the dukes of Brabant (like our Princess Elisabeth, Duchess of Brabant now, in Belgium) and Saxony, and the counts of Nassau (the house of King Wilhelm Alexander now) and Leuven. He and Elizabeth also shared a common ancestor in Henry II of England.
  • The wedding took place on 14 February 1613 at the royal chapel at the Palace of Whitehall and was a grand occasion that saw more royalty than had ever visited England before. The marriage was an enormously popular match and was the occasion for an outpouring of public affection with the ceremony described as “a wonder of ceremonial and magnificence even for that extravagant age”. It was celebrated with lavish and sophisticated festivities both in London and Heidelberg, including mass feasts and lavish furnishings that cost nearly 50,000, and almost bankrupted King James.
  • Elizabeth had lead a complex life that I will only summarize. In 1619 ,Elizabeth’s husband Frederick was offered the throne of Bohemia. Frederick’s reign in Bohemia began well but only lasted one year. Frederick’s reign ended with defeat of Bohemian Protestant armies at the Battle of White Mountain (which ended the first phase of the Thirty Years’ War) on 8 November 1620. Elizabeth is remembered as the “Winter Queen”, and Frederick as the “Winter King”, in reference to the brevity of their reign, and to the season of the battle. After this, and following a courteous invitation from the Prince of Orange, they moved to The Hague as monarchs in exile. Eventually Frederick said farewell to Elizabeth and joined the King of Sweden on the battlefield. Things for Frederick did not go as planned and he died on the morning of 29 November 1632. He was 36 years old. Elizabeth remained in the Hague until 1660 when her nephew, Charles Stuart (Charles ll) was restored to the British throne. Now determined to visit her native land, Elizabeth arrived in England on 26 May 1661, never again to leave.
  • Elisabeth had 13 children, at least 4 of which had children as well. With the demise of the last Stuart monarch in 1714,  Elisabeth’s grandson succeeded to the British throne as George I, initiating the Hanoverian dynasty.
  • Elizabeth died 13th February, 1662 of pneumonia. She is buried in Westminster Abbey in the Chapel of Henry Vll.

Check back tomorrow to vote on her Hall of Fame ensembles!


Hall of Fame – Duchess of Cambridge, Cocktail/Evening on Tour

Thank you to our guest author and community member Robin for this post! I think you’ll find her choices as intriguing as we do.

2nd Runner Up

I love when royals step out of their comfort zone, because I appreciate that it must be nerve-racking when you know your choices are going to be dissected endlessly.  I also am always on-board for a little black dress, and I think Paris is the perfect place to wear one. And I appreciate when a royal wears something I don’t normally like and they change my mind.  

Catherine at the reception, British Embassy, Paris, France, dress by Alexander McQueen, earrings by Balenciaga, shoes by Gianvito Rossi, necklace by unknown designer, ring by unknown designer (likely Balenciaga), belt by unknown designer.  

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This dress was so very chic, in a city known for chic.  The texture and shape were not typical for Kate, but they really should be.  The belt was perfect because it fit with style of the dress and added to the overall look.  Her shoes were a stylish choice, as black court shoes would have made the dress look more business casual than cocktail.  And normally large pearl costume jewelry reminds me of my grandmother going to church, but the asymmetrical necklace was lovely and playful against the black texture of the dress.  

1st Runner Up

I can’t personally do a HOF for Kate and not give her at least one shout-out for her commitment to theme dressing.  If Kate is visiting a country with a known symbolic color or plant, expect her to pull said color or plant into her outfit styling.  And though sometimes I have not been the greatest fan of thematic dressing, I am the first to admit that it is a meaningful tribute to the country and people she is visiting.  To my surprise, I had a hard time picking my favorite- her theme dressing is at its finest on tour.

Catherine at the evening reception, Government House, New Zealand, dress by Jenny Packham, earrings and bracelet on loan from HRH The Queen

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The hand-beading of the fern was extraordinary, and the couture level of the beading ensured this dress was fashion and not costume.  The black and silver color was also a tribute to the national colors of New Zealand.  This was during a time when Kate appeared most comfortable wearing her (glorious) hair down, but it was still curled and pushed off the ‘fern’ shoulder, allowing the bead work to be the focus. I have never forgotten this dress, which is why I finally chose this dress over her recent green Jenny Packham in Pakistan.  I also think it was the rare themed dress that could have been repeated due to the artistry of the bead work.

Hall of Fame

Catherine at the BAFTA Brits to Watch Event, Los Angeles, California, dress by Alexander McQueen, shoes by Jimmy Choo, bracelet and earrings on loan from HRH The Queen

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This is a dress that I love, and I am truly saddened it has never been publicly repeated.  (Privately, she must have put it on once or twice since and twirled around Anmer Hall, right?)  Let me break down my reason for why this was such a perfect ensemble for this tour stop:

  1. The soft color and flow of this dress, with just the perfect amount of sparkle.  I travel to Los Angeles frequently, and it is Bohemian chic central, land of maxi dresses and giant sunglasses.   Of course, it is also Hollywood, home of the Oscars and Golden Globes, where movie stars drape themselves in the latest runway couture and megawatt diamonds. The color, flow and fit of this dress looked effortless, and the sparkle gave just the right amount of ‘wow’ factor.  
  2. The gold sandals and clutch were so very So Cal (this was not a place for court shoes, and gold accessories are always on trend).  Yes, the belted waist- classic Kate, but it worked with the fit and design of the dress.  The diamonds from the Queen- stunning, but not over the top.  And this was a rare evening look where I think hair down was the right choice, as it matched the fluidity of the dress, and the casualness of the West Coast.  As someone who constantly wants to ever so slightly tweak Kate’s style, I would not have changed anything. 
  3. This was the only evening gown look during her first international tour, in a country known for its unabashed Princess Diana obsession.  There had to be tremendous pressure on her and her team.  To me, this dress was ‘modern princess’ but still also very much Kate, and I love that it stayed true to who she is.  It also photographed beautifully in motion- something that I think every royal stylist needs to remember when a royal is only going to be photographed walking into an event.    

Weigh in on Kate's cocktail on-tour wear!

Hall of Fame – Duchess of Cornwall, Evening

Thank you to our community member Elizabeth for providing the content of this post. Read on to discover her choices!

Elizabeth’s Thesis

I was surprised, when I came to search, how many beautiful appearances Camilla has made. Her tiara events in white/off-white gown, with Greville tiara and pearl choker are nice enough, but a bit yawn-worthy. I’m sure she views these as business uniform, but still… Where she really shines is at black tie events, where she is much more adventurous with colours, and varies the jewels.

Second Runner Up

My second runner up would be her appearance at the 200th anniversary celebration of the Battle of Waterloo. She wore a beautiful shade of blue that really looks good on her and was very flattering, but I must admit it was the sheer wattage of diamonds that slid this ensemble ahead of some other lovely gowns! Clock the rocks round her neck!

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First Runner Up

Runner-up, after much discussion amongst myself, because, well this was an off-white frock, was her appearance during the American State Visit on 4 June 2019, when the Waleses entertained the Trumps. Camilla’s dress was just delightful, with an embroidered voile (tulle?) over-layer that really lightened the look. The blush undertone really suited her, and again, she wore a different, diamond necklace. Go Cams!

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Hall of Fame Winner

My Hall of Fame Winner is the stunning midnight blue gown with silver pinstripes, flared skirt and heart-shaped neckline that she wore to the celebrations of Prince Charles’ 70th birthday on 14 Nov 2018, and again, with identical styling, on 7 Apr 2019 at the Olivier Awards. The flare and sparkle of the gown are just wonderful on her. And I love that diamond necklace!

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Which of these fabulous gowns should go into the Hall of Fame?

Guest Author Hall of Fame – Queen Letizia Evening

For this Hall of Fame installment, our resident Spanish royal expert, Iselen, submitted the nominees and background on the gowns. We found the information fascinating, and know you will, too. Also look for Iselen’s nominations for Letizia’s daywear in the upcoming weeks. Thank you, Iselen, for your inside intel.

First and Second Runners-Up

Second and first runner ups are the two Lorenzo Caprile gowns, which were worn at Crown Prince Frederik and Mary Donaldson’s pre-wedding dinner and wedding itself. These events were Letizia’s first international events as Felipe’s fiancée (her own wedding was two weeks later), and the first time Spanish people got that “Wow!” factor from their future Queen.

The red, swishy, forties inspired dress – inspired by the glamorous Countess of Barcelona – was worn at the ceremony as the result of a last minute change of plans. It was originally designed for the glitzy pre-wedding dinner, accessorized for evening with the sparkly brooches. The cherry satin skirt with a floral jacket embroidered in gold was the wedding outfit, since it is actually richer concerning the materials than the red dress.

According to Caprile, on the first day of festivities, Letizia required the additional coverage of the skirt and jacket design, so she switched gowns. Unfortunately, since Caprile gave out so many details, Letizia never trusted him again and never wore the rest of the outfits he made for her. It is a pity since it’s said that the Queen owns a white evening dress that Caprile labeled the highlight of his career, but we’ve never seen it.

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The winner is a gown worn at an event that is simply one of the best royal appearances ever. At the 2017 Spain and UK state visit, Letizia wore a stunning red sparkly Varela gown, and accessorized with her Big Gun, the Fleur de Lys Tiara, the earrings and one of the bracelets from the joyas de pasar. The slightly fuller skirt balances that enormous, airy tiara with grace.

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What gown do you think belongs to the Hall of Fame?