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The Queen received this iconic Chanel perfume for her 29th birthday

A handwritten letter from the late monarch is on display within the V&A’s new 'Gabrielle Chanel. Fashion Manifesto' exhibition 

Queen Elizabeth II on her way to her first State Opening of Parliament as monarch, 4th November 1952. (Photo by Douglas Miller/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Lauren Ramsay
Lauren RamsayOnline Writer
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A letter handwritten by the late Queen Elizabeth II has revealed that she loved Chanel’s iconic N°5 fragrance.

The historic piece is on display at the V&A’s new exhibition, ‘Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto’, the UK's first exhibition dedicated to the work of French couturière, Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. 

The letter was written by the Queen shortly after her 29th birthday. It was addressed to Frederick 'Boy' Browning - a Knight Commander who was also treasurer in the Office of the Duke of Edinburgh - after he gifted her a bottle of Chanel N°5.

MORE: Must-see London fashion exhibitions to check out in 2023

READ: The history of Chanel perfume: everything you need to know about the maison's most famous fragrances

A letter from Queen Elizabeth II on display at the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition at the V&A museum© Chanel
A letter from Queen Elizabeth II on display at the Gabrielle Chanel exhibition at the V&A museum

What did Queen Elizabeth think about Chanel?

The letter reads: "Dear Boy, As usual, you have discovered just the very thing I particularly wanted, and I want to thank you very much indeed for the birthday present of the Chanel scent. I am already using it and, I hope, smelling all the better for it!!"

Why is Chanel N°5 so significant?

"An olfactory icon, N°5 requires no introduction. Radical to the nth degree, its bottle design broke tradition with its clean lines and rounded corners," explains Hello! Fashion's Orin Carlin. "The scent is capped with an emerald-cut stopper – a shape reminiscent of the Place Vendôme, a sight visible from Gabrielle's Hôtel Ritz Paris suite balcony."

"Gloriously aldehydic, N°5 has a lovely powdery violet quality to it. Exuding magnetism, it is heady and intoxicating, but with a fresh line of jasmine running through to provide clarity," Orin says. 

MORE: V&A's Coco Chanel exhibition is going to be exquisite: here's why 

READ: Thought you knew everything about Coco Chanel? Think again.

Hello! Fashion attended a private viewing of the exhibition ahead of its opening on Saturday September 16, which features almost 200 Chanel looks as well as accessories, perfumes and jewellery. There is also a dedicated Fragrance & Beauty room which displays an original Chanel N°5 Bottle from 1921 and the letter from the late queen. 

The must-see exhibition is available to view at the Victoria and Albert Museum until February 25 2024, and trust us when we say ‘don’t walk, run’...

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