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Thrifty royal fashion: 11 times Kate Middleton, Princess Beatrice & Co rocked a sustainable wardrobe

These royals are unexpected champions of sustainability

sustainable royals
Georgia Brown
Senior Lifestyle & Fashion Writer
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It's doesn't have to be Zero Waste Week for you to consider changing up your fashion game. When the most influential royals take the lead by recycling clothes, repeating outfits, shopping from small ethical brands, even sharing their wedding dresses – we can't help but think this is a practice we should all get on board with.

RELATED: 16 Sustainable fashion brands that need a place in your wardrobe

The impact of fast fashion on the environment and the need to keep up with rapidly changing trends are giving rise to a "throwaway culture" that’s not just harming the planet, but also the underpaid people who stitch our clothes for a living. Over-consumption of clothing relies heavily on non-renewable sources – and our planet is running out.

WATCH: 5 times royals recycled their outfits

From Prince Philip's 73-year-old shoes to Princess Diana's recycled clothes and Princess Beatrice's ethical wedding dress, we take a look at all the times the British royal family has been celebrated for their advocacy of sustainable fashion.

MORE: 6 tips for a sustainable skincare routine with your beauty products

Prince Charles

princes charles


You may not automatically associate the British royal family with sustainable fashion, but Prince Charles recently launched a sustainable and high-quality fashion line after advocating for reusing and upcycling clothing for several years.

A serial outfit repeater and fan of responsible fashion, the Prince of Wales has been a champion of the 'Positive Fashion' initiative alongside the British Fashion Council since its launch 2018.

According to Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of the British Fashion Council, Prince Charles supported the initiative by meeting with British designers and fashion businesses who are dedicated to sustainability and championing positive change for the future of the fashion industry.

Princess Diana

princess diana

Coined a style icon of her time, Princess Diana was an eco-fashion advocate well before sustainable fashion was even on our radar. Buying an item to wear it once didn't interest the Princess of Wales, who not only chose to repeat outfits, but also had items in her wardrobe remade into completely new outfits.

Princess Diana donned a stunning blue Catherine Walker gown in 1986 to a dinner hosted by the Emir of Qatar in Doha. Two years later, she ditched the sleeves for a flattering sweetheart neckline when she attended a charity ball in 1989.

RELATED: 7 simple sustainable swaps to make for an eco-friendly home

Princess Beatrice

beatrice wedding dress display

When we think of the traditional wedding rhyme 'something borrowed, something blue', you might not expect the bride to literally don a head-to-toe sustainable fashion look from recycled items.

Thrifty Princess Beatrice not only rewore the Queen’s favourite tiara for her big day, but she also borrowed one of her grandmother’s dresses - tweaking it slightly by adding delicate sleeves and adjusting the hemline to better suit her style.

It has even been revealed that the royal didn’t invest in a new pair of shoes for the big day, instead opting to re-wear a pair of cream Valentino's she first wore at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding in 2011, paired with a pastel pink tailored dress and iconic fascinator. 

READ: How to save £1k on your wedding dress by going second hand

BLING: 10 sustainable and ethical engagement rings that are perfect for eco brides

Prince Philip

prince philip shoes

The late Prince Philip's love for the Queen and dedication to their 73-year marriage is one that will tug on heartstrings for decades to come - but the Duke of Edinburgh also had an unusual love for sustainability and sentimental items.

He continued to wear same the black shoes he used on the day he married the Queen for more than seven decades.

Having first worn the smart leather shoes on his wedding day in 1947, he donned the same pair at many formal occasions over the years - having them resoled when needed. According to the MailOnline, when Prince Philip was asked why he continued to wear the shoes, he said he wore them "out of sentimentality."

MORE: Why royal ladies wore hats to attend Prince Philip's funeral

The Duchess of Cambridge

kate middleton prince willilam

The Duchess of Cambridge is proud to champion sustainably-run fashion brands, often wearing items from companies that are ethically made and who support charities.

READ: Kate Middleton's sweet tribute to the Queen with choice of jewellery at Prince Philip's funeral

She styled a stunning dress from Beulah last summer - a British brand that provides employment and raises funds for victims of human trafficking.

kate pink dress

Kate might have the ability to influence fashion trends, but she is also a serial outfit repeater.

According to Eco Age: "the stigma around wearing the same outfit twice is fueling consumerism, and pushing us to buy clothes we don't need".

The Duchess loved this pink Emilia Wickstead dress so much, she wore it twice in one month. Once at a Diamond Jubilee party at Windsor Castle and 11 days later to attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen

the queen

For decades, the use of real fur in the fashion world has been a widely disputed ethical debate. The Queen has always had one foot forward with fashion trends and announced in 2019 that she would no longer be wearing real fur for royal public engagements.

According to Lyst’s 2020 Conscious Fashion Report, the announcement that the monarch would no longer wear fur in November 2019 prompted a 52 per cent spike in views of faux fur products.

Meghan Markle

meghan markle


From the moment the Duchess of Sussex stepped into the global spotlight, her wardrobe has had sustainability stitched into every hem.

Whether Meghan is in the public eye, or attending engagements via Zoom - Prince Harry's wife consistently chooses to wear clothes made from small brands, female-led brands, and companies that produce their items sustainably.

Princess Anne

princess anne

The Princess Royal was praised by British Vogue's editor-in-chief for her "timeless" and "sustainable" style.

Admitting she rarely buys clothes made outside of the UK, the royal told Vanity Fair that she recycles styles “because I’m quite mean”, adding: “I still try and buy materials and have them made up because I just think that’s more fun." 

She continued: “It also helps to support those who still manufacture in this country. We mustn’t forget we’ve got those skills, and there are still places that do a fantastic job.” 

SEE: Princess Anne pays tribute to Prince Philip with this symbolic outfit detail

The Countess of Wessex

sophie wessex green dress

The Countess of Wessex has an unrivalled sense of style, made even more influential by her choice to regularly repeat outfits. When she loves an item, the wife of Prince Edward has been known to wear it again and again, styling it in different ways. 

She particularly loves this 'Stormy Hearts Midi-Length Tea Dress' from Suzannah, which she wore at the UCI Road World Championships in 2019, a trip to Beirut and again at the Chelsea Flower Show. 

Princess Eugenie

princess eugenie loci trainers

When she's not enthralling royal fans with her ultra-glamorous wardrobe, Princess Eugenie likes to rock a more laid-back look - though sustainability always comes to mind even when it comes to her fashion choices. Her favourite trainers from Loci are the perfect footwear for off-duty days.

The website reads: "Introducing the LØCI NINE, our most sustainable sneaker made to date. Made with 100% recycled materials that give you a superior water-resistant upper, with a custom-made cork insole for a soft re-bounce to keep you charging ahead."

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