The late Queen famously said “I have to be seen to be believed”. That’s the reason she always wore bold colours, from lime green to Cadbury purple, for her engagements – she was unmissable for the crowds, who may have waited hours for a glimpse.
Now Queen Camilla appears to be taking a leaf from that Royal style rulebook. Arriving at Orly airport in Paris on Wednesday, Her Majesty wore a new pale pink Fiona Clare coat and dress with a matching Philip Treacy hat. The look was completed by a taupe Charlotte Elizabeth handbag – a British label originally supported by the Prince’s Trust.
The colour pink represents a departure for the Queen, whose coats and coat-dresses usually come in a palette of creams and blues – especially when she is on international tours. Cobalt is as bold as she’ll usually go. But this is an important visit for the couple (it’s their first royal tour since the Coronation) and it’s considered a chance to rebuild ties with France that have been frayed since Britain’s exit from the EU in 2020.
We know that royal wardrobes are often imbued with meaning, particularly on tours, and when it comes to sartorial diplomacy, the more senior members of the family are old hands. Pink is a colour associated with optimism, setting a positive tone for the three-day visit.
The colour could also be read as a tribute to the late Queen, who wore pink on her own last state visit to France in 2014. Throughout her reign we saw her use the colour to promote good feeling, at one point wearing pink in 2020 for an engagement in Salisbury that took place between pandemic lockdowns. She will have known just how much the nation needed her to be a symbol of uplifting stability at that moment.
Camilla wasn’t the only one to wear pink at Orly though. In a case of a pure coincidence, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne, who greeted the King and Queen as they disembarked the plane, wore a fuchsia jacket, as did another official in the welcome party. It made for a rather Barbie-chic gathering, complete with red carpet – Greta Gerwig’s hit film has influenced wardrobe choices all over the world this summer.
The underlying truth is probably that all three women know that pink is universally flattering to wear. It lends warmth to pale skin and looks especially fabulous with grey and silver hair, making it a smart choice for a photo opportunity.
That’s probably why the pink trend is here to stay. It’s been an “It” colour since Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli created an all-pink collection in 2022. From there, it was all over the red carpet, then the high street and countless other designers followed suit. Now, with a little help from Mattel and HM the Queen, it looks set to carry on well into 2024 too.
As the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla was careful to dress in a way that would not steal the limelight from the monarch. Now, as the most senior woman in the Royal family, she has the freedom to embrace a bolder look – if and when she wants to.