The Queens of colour! How Kate has adopted Her Majesty’s winning style formula


‘Imagine never getting it wrong. Ever. Stylistically, every day of your life, nailing it.’

That was the verdict of Vogue, looking back on the Queen’s 70 years of outfits during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The reason Her Majesty managed to nail it, every single day? She adored wearing colour.

Red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue. She wore them all and more, from head to toe. She ‘popped’ on every balcony, and would brighten the dreariest day.

As Stewart Parvin, the designer who made most of Her Majesty’s outfits later in life, remembers: ‘For William and Catherine’s wedding, I gave Her Majesty a choice of two outfits I felt were perfect. But no. 

The Queen is pictured on a visit to St Peter and St Paul church in West Newton in 2018

It’s heartening to see that, as she grows in confidence and status, the Princess of Wales is choosing to follow in the Queen’s sartorial footsteps, wearing a host of top-to-toe outfits in a kaleidoscope of colours

The Princess of Wales wore orange during her visit to Foxcubs Nursery in Luton on January 18

Red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue. She wore them all and more, from head to toe

Red and yellow and pink and green, orange and purple and blue. She wore them all and more, from head to toe

At 5ft9, Kate may not need bright colour to help her stand out as much as the Queen but she knows that it's now her job to cheer up the nation

The Queen wore bright colours to help her stand out at 5ft3

At 5ft9, Kate may not need bright colour to help her stand out as much as the Queen but she knows that it’s now her job to cheer up the nation

‘The Queen looked out the window and said: ‘It’s not the brightest day, I want to be in yellow.’ She felt the weather was dull and wanted to cheer up the crowd.’

Her Majesty famously said ‘I have to be seen to be believed’, and thanks to her rainbow attire, you could never miss her, rain or shine. A pattern can look too busy when you add a sash, jewellery, insignias. 

But a block of colour works every single time. She knew that wearing colour was not just eye-catching, or even diplomatic — clover-leaf green to Ireland, say, or canary yellow to Jamaica — but that it can semaphore optimism and stability.

This was vital when she came to the throne — and it’s vital for her successors now.

So it’s heartening to see that, as she grows in confidence and status, the Princess of Wales is choosing to follow in the Queen’s sartorial footsteps, wearing a host of top-to-toe outfits in a kaleidoscope of colours.

At 5ft 9in (plus heels) she may not need bright colour to help her stand out as much as the Queen did at 5ft 3in. But she knows that, while she may favour slubby browns, jeans, navy polka dots and Barbours when off duty, it’s now her job to cheer up the nation.

Over the past year, Kate has come into her own with her colour choices for events

The Queen wore green to a polo match in 2021

Over the past year, Kate has come into her own with her colour choices for events

The Princess of Wales donned a green gown for the Earthshot Prize 2022

The Queen also wore green for a state visit to Cork in Ireland in 2011

The Princess of Wales’s colour choices can occasionally be too literal: pillar-box red for Christmas carols; a bright green Solace London rental worn for the Earthshot Prize ceremony last month (left)

In choosing to adopt a cheerful colour scheme, the Princess of Wales has proven that she and the Queen share an ability to bring brightness wherever they go

Queen Elizabeth II attends Newbury Racecourse in 2019

In choosing to adopt a cheerful colour scheme, the Princess of Wales has proven that she and the Queen share an ability to bring brightness wherever they go

Unlike Meghan, who has confessed to avoiding colour during her royal tenure to make sure she did not clash with senior royal ladies, Kate knows onlookers want an outfit that speaks of a sense of fun, rather than conjuring Nurse Ratched.

During her years in the spotlight, Kate has learned through trial and error not to be half-hearted or scared of colour. Looking back, I’m sure she realises the McQueen coat dress worn to Harry and Meghan’s wedding in 2018, which was supposed to be pale lemon, appeared far too pale in photographs.

Her late Majesty, pro that she was, wore lime silk tweed that day, with a purple sinamay hat, and therefore managed to look jaunty without stealing the show.

Her Majesty was prescient, too, with her love of colour; this season, Prada has come up with orange shoes, Fendi sent out lime boots, and I’d love to see Kate in Ralph Lauren’s bright orange silk taffeta gown.

Kate wore pale blue to an Easter service in 2022

The Queen wore a similar shade to an event to mark her official birthday in 2020

Queens of colour: Kate wore pale blue to an Easter service in 2022. The Queen wore a similar shade to an event to mark her official birthday in 2020

Unlike Meghan, who has confessed to avoiding colour during her royal tenure to make sure she did not clash with senior royal ladies, Kate knows onlookers want an outfit that speaks of a sense of fun

The Queen also showed her classic colour blocking style at a visit to Cambridge in 2011

Unlike Meghan, who has confessed to avoiding colour during her royal tenure to make sure she did not clash with senior royal ladies, Kate knows onlookers want an outfit that speaks of a sense of fun

Kate was cheery in purple in Londonderry in 2021

The Queen wore an almost identical shade to open the Royal National ENT and Eastman Hospit

Kate was cheery in purple in Londonderry in 2021. The Queen wore an almost identical shade to open the Royal National ENT and Eastman Hospit

Kate on November 22 during the state visit of the President of South Africa in London

The Queen knew that wearing colour was not just eye-catching, or even diplomatic ¿ clover-leaf green to Ireland, say, or canary yellow to Jamaica ¿ but that it can semaphore optimism and stability

The Queen knew that wearing colour was not just eye-catching, or even diplomatic — clover-leaf green to Ireland, say, or canary yellow to Jamaica — but that it can semaphore optimism and stability

Kate in June 2022

The Queen on a royal visit to Sandringham in December 2019

In the pink: Kate in June 2022 and the Queen on a royal visit to Sandringham in December 2019

But the Princess of Wales’s colour choices can occasionally be too literal: pillar-box red for Christmas carols; a bright green Solace London rental worn for the Earthshot Prize ceremony last month.

And she also needs to learn that if you’re wearing a bright colour, the fabric must be understated and classy. The droopy Vampire’s Wife dress in bottle green worn for her first official painted portrait with William, unveiled last summer, was in a fabric that to me screamed Quality Street wrapper.

Over the past year, Kate has come into her own. Her pink Alexander McQueen suit. That blue Catherine Walker ensemble with matching pillbox hat. The magenta Emilia Wickstead coat dress with wine-coloured courts, worn for the South African state visit in November, was an outfit worthy of Her Majesty herself.

The Princess of Wales might not have her Majesty’s ice-cream complexion, as famously commented on by photographer Cecil Beaton. However, in choosing to adopt a cheerful colour scheme, she has proven that she and the Queen share an ability to bring brightness wherever they go.

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