Skip to content

Daughters of British Empire in Louisiana

A 501(c)(3) Non-Profit, Philanthropic Women's Society
You are here: Mixed Bag The White Wardrobe
The White Wardrobe



The 2005 summer public opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace included a display of the 1930s White Wardrobe of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.


These elegant Norman Hartnell gowns were worn on a 1938 royal visit to France, aimed at strengthening Anglo-French ties.


Five days before the visit was to begin, the Queen's mother, the Countess of Strathmore died, and the colorful dresses designed for the trip were set aside. Norman Hartnell suggested all white. It would be more appropriate than black for the trip, and many royal widows have mourned in white in the past. The trip was postponed for three weeks, and Norman Hartnell created a completely new wardrobe in just a fortnight. He because the Queen's primary designer for the rest of her life.


The Queen left England all in black, but emerged in France in a white lace evening gown, and was to wear white for the rest of the trip.



Also on display was the beautiful Indian coronet, made for Queen Victoria, and worn by Queen Elizabeth during the state visit. It contains 2,678 diamonds, and was set with Indian rubies in 1902, when Queen Alexandra had the "unlucky" opals.


Details of the parasol used by Queen Elizabeth in Paris to compliment the White Wardrobe dresses.


Detail of the crinoline evening gown worn by Queen Elizabeth to the State Banquet at the Elysee Palace.



Thanks to Pam, who let me know about this.