When it comes to colour, Queen Elizabeth II, who died Sept. 8 at 96, was known for wearing bright, vibrant colours. This was for one specific purpose. So everyone, no matter where they were in the crowd, could see her.
This is what her daughter-in-law, Sophie, Countess of Wessex shared in the 2016 documentary, The Queen at 90. She said “She needs to stand out for people to be able to say ‘I saw the Queen'”, explaining “The crowds are two, three, four, ten, 15 deep, and someone wants to be able to say they saw a bit of the Queen’s hat as she went past.”
However, there was one colour the Queen never wore on her public engagements.
Robert Hardman, the Queen’s biographer, even quoted her once as saying, “I can never wear beige because nobody will know who I am.” According to Hardman, the Queen only wore beige and more muted colours when she was relaxing at home.
Experiencing the Queen in full colour
Living in London I had the opportunity to go to many royal events which were accessible to the public. I remember seeing the Queen in passing processions for annual royal events and also standing on the banks of The Thames watching her Platinum Jubilee boat procession. She was easy to spot as all I had to do was look for the most brightly coloured clothes.
I particularly remember going to The Mall looking up at the Queen on the balcony and she stood out by the colour of her coat and hat. I’m sure everyone in the royal family knows what colours to wear and not to wear to ensure they don’t outshine the Queen. I just wish I could find the images I took. That will teach me to file my images in one place.
The Queen and her many colours
I love this image put together by Vogue in 2012 showing just how many colours the Queen wears in one year – no wonder they called her the rainbow Queen.
It seems the most popular colour was blue in all its tints, tones, and shades at 29%, leading many to believe that blue just might be The Queen’s favourite colour. She wore the softest pale blues, the vibrant turquoise through to deep royal blue.
The psychology of colour and the meaning of blue
The incredible thing about colour is that we can communicate through colour without needing to say a word. That’s the power of colour.
As blue was the colour the Queen appeared to wear the most, let’s take a quick look at what lies behind the psychology of this colour.
In some ways it’s no surprise from a colour psychology perspective that she wore dark blue because it communicates knowledge and authority. Dark blue also expresses a level of conservatism and tradition. Even the more vibrant turquoise she wore shows an openness to discuss and share ideas. The lighter blues she wore shows she was approachable and open to listening. All of these are qualities the Queen would have wanted to express in her role as the head of state.
I asked my friend and fellow colour lover, Martha Roberts, creator of The Colour File and self-confessed colour order fanatic if she would create a collage image for this blog with all her colourful stamps of the Queen. Isn’t this just beautiful? The Queen was just as colourful in stamps as she was in how she dressed.
Looking back at the colour chart showing the many colours the Queen wore, we now know why she wore the bright, vibrant colours, it was to be seen in the crowd. I would say that for any occasion where there was a large public gathering, she would wear the brighter colours so she could be seen.
You can also see in the colour chart, she wore a lot of soft, subtle colours. Where did she wear those? In smaller, more intimate gatherings. When there wasn’t a crowd, when she didn’t need to stand out in she did when she was in her carriage, on her many royal walkabouts or the palace balcony. On these occasions, the Queen could wear softer, more subtle colours because everyone could easily see her and she didn’t need to stand out.
She was definitely the queen of colour and knew how to wear it to great effect.
Wishing you a colourful day!