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For the second year in a row, The Queen’s birthday parade was a more dialled-down affair, taking place in the quadrangle at Windsor Castle rather than down The Mall and Horse Guard’s parade in London followed by a family balcony appearance at Buckingham Palace as is customary. It was also the first year that Her Majesty has marked her official birthday without her husband, Prince Philip.
Her Majesty’s choice of outfit for the event reflected these somewhat subdued circumstances.
The Queen, who was accompanied by her cousin, the Duke of Kent, opted to re-wear the pale grey coat, embroidered at the neckline with yellow flowers, and a coordinating hat which she was last seen wearing at the State Opening of Parliament in May which was her first in-person appearance since the death of her husband in April.
The outfit, created by HM’s personal dresser and in-house designer Angela Kelly, conforms to the tradition of ‘second mourning’ dress, a custom which sees widows wear muted tones of mauve, lilac and grey after a period of wearing black.
Her Majesty appears to have taken a modern approach to this Victorian idea which was closely followed by royal women in the past, opting only to nod to it at official appearances which are steeped in history rather than for all of her outings in recent weeks - a strategy underlined by her wearing the same outfit little more than a month apart.
Throughout her reign, the Queen has been thrifty with her dress, often re-wearing the same outfits numerous times and having them altered as needed. Despite not having had to consider the principles of ‘second mourning’ as a widow before, Her Majesty has nevertheless not commissioned a new outfit for the purpose - the dove grey coat and hat worn twice in the past few weeks were debuted at Royal Ascot on Ladies’ Day in 2019, the last time the event was held with a crowd of dressed-up spectators.
There is an added poignancy to the ensemble, too, as the floral silk dress which The Queen has layered underneath the coat is the same style she wore in a portrait to mark Prince Philip’s 99th birthday last year.
The Queen completed her birthday parade outfit with her stalwart signature accessories; a black Launer handbag and Anello and Davide block-heeled shoes.
There was an added element of remembrance, too, in the aquamarine brooch Her Majesty wore, a Thirties design inherited from her mother.
Besides this understated nod to traditional mourning dress, The Queen has elsewhere returned to some of the style tropes for which she is most famous in recent weeks.
Meeting G7 leaders in Cornwall on Friday, she was dressed in a white silk dress with a painterly pink, green and orange floral print. And for a visit to HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth in May, Her Majesty wore a crimson red coat with black velvet trim.
Tomorrow, Windsor Castle will be the setting for her meeting with Joe Biden. He will be the 13th US President the Queen has met.