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10 poignant photos of the royals in mourning dress - touching tradition revealed

Discover the moving traditions of dress for the royal family


mourning
Fiona Ward
Acting Fashion and Beauty Editor
September 17, 2022
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Earlier this month, Queen Elizabeth II passed away peacefully at home in Balmoral and a funeral is due to be held in London to honour her memory.

MORE: Princess Kate pays tribute to Queen with rarely-seen jewel

The royal family are well known for using their clothing to portray a message, and that doesn't change when they are mourning a loss.

In fact, royals follow a number of traditions out of respect for those that have passed - famously, Queen Victoria spent 40 years wearing black in tribute to her late husband Prince Albert as an outward sign of her grief.

1

Mourning veils are a core aspect of royal funeral dress

Following the death of her husband Prince Philip on April 9, the late Queen expressed her wish that the royal family would observe two weeks of royal mourning, with a senior palace official stating that "mourning bands will be worn where appropriate". This was also the case for her own funeral arrangements on Monday 19 September.

Traditional black, mourning veils and military dress are all appropriate options for funeral dress amongst the royal family. Here, we look back at the poignant choices over the years...

2

Queen Elizabeth was away on a visit to Kenya when she learned the news that her father King George had passed away, making her Queen. She quickly flew back to the UK, changing into a black dress on board.

She began her reign by wearing the Flame Lily Brooch, which was given to her on her 21st birthday. She wore it a number of times during the mourning period for her father, and has continued to sport it in recent years.

3

As per tradition for the death of a monarch, the Queen, the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret all wore black veils to the funeral of King George.

SEE: Royal family to wear mourning bands on public engagements in honour of Prince Philip

Traditionally, black veils are only worn at the funeral of a sovereign. After Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert passed away in 1861, she wore the mourning veil and some form of mourning dress to honour her loss, right up until her death in 1901.

5

Upon her uncle the Duke of Windsor's passing in 1972, the Queen chose to wear a hat and coat to his funeral. His wife Wallis Simpson wore a black veil and matching coat.

6

For Princess Grace of Monaco's funeral in 1982, many female mourners wore lace headdresses, including Princess Caroline.

4

Princess Diana also attended the funeral, wearing a boater hat with a small net veil and a black dress.

The wearing of black clothing to show mourning at a funeral has long been accepted as the correct etiquette, especially in western cultures. It is also considered a sign of respect for the deceased and their loved ones.

READ: Why the Queen Mother wore white after her mother's funeral

7

Many royal women wear black dresses, a hat or a fascinator and black tights at royal funerals. Above, Sarah, Duchess of York, Princess Anne and Zara Tindall are pictured at the Princess of Wales' funeral in 1997.

8

The Queen wore a black hat and dress coat for her mother's funeral in 2002, adding the Dorset Bow Brooch to her lapel.

10

When travelling to another country, royals must pack a black ensemble with them in the event a family member should pass away. This is to ensure that when they arrive back in the UK, they are dressed in black to reflect mourning.

The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Charles, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne attended in military dress.

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

It is custom only for members of the royal family who hold a military rank to wear military dress at state occasions, a tradition which has been in place since the 19th century.

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