22 MAY 2003
Despite her diminutive stature – she's just 5ft 51/2ins tall – there's no doubt that wherever she goes Queen Elizabeth cuts an immediately recognisable figure. Much credit for which lies with her choice of colourful and striking headgear, some of which is currently on display as part of a new exhibition in London.
Hats and Handbags: Accessories From The Royal Wardrobe, which runs at Kensington Palace State apartments from May 23, comprises accessories chosen by the Queen and her senior courtiers. Designers whose work is featured include milliners Frederick Fox, Aage Thaarup and Philip Somerville.
The exhibition includes special hats created for specific occasions such as the tricorn the British monarch dons for June's annual Trooping of the Colour ceremony, which was designed to replace the traditional busby when, as a young princess, Elizabeth stood in for her father George VI. Other pieces are sartorial memories of historical events – those she wore for the Jubilee celebrations in 2002, for example – while many were specially made for royal overseas visits.
"One of the things I've leant from the exhibition is what a bold women she is and how fashion conscious she has been over the years – and still is," says Kensington Palace curator Joanna Marschner.
Perhaps the most interesting tote in the collection, however, is a rather battered red carryall from Fortnum & Mason. Only recently "decommissioned", it was a obviously a firm favourite with the Queen, and was used behind the scenes for transporting the monarch's correspondence.