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How has Camilla’s style evolved since she became Queen Consort?

Ahead of the coronation, fashion experts weigh in on the royal’s fashion choices. By Katie Wright.

Katie Wright
Tuesday 02 May 2023 07:00 BST
Camilla and Charles embarked on their first state visit as King and Queen Consort in Germany (Adrian Dennis/PA)
Camilla and Charles embarked on their first state visit as King and Queen Consort in Germany (Adrian Dennis/PA) (PA Wire)

When King Charles is crowned on May 6, the Queen Consort is expected to take the new title of Queen Camilla.

Although not technically a monarch because the throne can only be inherited, the late Queen Elizabeth II send it was her ‘sincere wish’ that Camilla would take the Queen title, signalling the start of a new era for the royal couple.

The former Duchess of Cornwall – born Camilla Rosemary Shand in 1947 – officially joined the royal family when she married Charles in 2005.

From romantic involvement with Charles in the the early 70s, to mistress and finally wife of the King, Camilla has been on quite a journey.

Her personal style has long been under the spotlight as well, and was initially compared unfavourably with Diana, Princess of Wales’.

But the 75-year-old has come into her own in terms of fashion, and she continues to adapt as her royal role changes.

With the coronation on the horizon, fashion experts give their verdict on Camilla’s wardrobe choices since becoming Queen Consort, and what the future might hold.

Signature style

“Camilla has always played by the rules, usually wearing a coat dress and hat combo for daytime engagements,” said Rosie Harte, author of The Royal Wardrobe.

In this way, her wardrobe is similar to the late Queen’s, but with some subtle differences.

“Her coat dresses, for example, not only feature her signature mandarin collar but also some well-place darts that give her the waist definition that the late Queen avoided,” Harte said.

Working with dresser Jacqui Meakin, Camilla champions British designers such as Bruce Oldfield, Fiona Clare and milliner Philip Treacy, and generally favours a subdued colour palette.

“Rather than following the bold colours of Queen Elizabeth, she prefers neutral tones and pastels, with the occasional drama of intense blue and bright red,” said Caroline Young, fashion writer and author of The Colour Of Fashion.

“Similar to other members of the royal family, she is very much a countrywoman at heart, who seems more comfortable in her wellies and tweeds, and so she favours the reliable over experimental.”

Elegant evolution

Since becoming Queen Consort, Camilla has attended high profile events alongside her husband and joined him on the first state visit of his reign to Germany.

“Camilla has done a very good job of subtly adapting the royal fashion rulebook to create a look that is unique to her but still distinctly royal,” said Harte.

As well as continuing to wear outdoorsy ensembles during winter, we’ve seen more glitzy looks at evening events.

“Camilla has been honing her simple but elegant style,” Young said. “She has a preference for turquoise, champagne or sapphire coats and dresses, which she jazzes up with interesting hats and brooches.”

Fashion fit for a Queen

Asked to name a stand-out look from Camilla during her time as Queen Consort, Harte highlighted the black Bruce Oldfield gown worn to the state banquet in Berlin.

“It felt like the first time we were seeing Camilla pull out all the stops to show us she’s Queen,” she said.

“The style of the gown is familiar territory for her with its drop waist and structured fabric, but covered in silver embroidered vines? That’s new, and it’s regal.”

She also commended Camilla’s use of the stunning jewellery to complement her outfits.

“She has inherited Queen Elizabeth’s extensive jewellery collection and is using it to her advantage,” Harte said.

“Whether she’s wearing her iconic fringe necklace or Elizabeth’s Belgian Sapphire tiara, Camilla is drawing attention to the role she now plays within the family.”

Coronation predictions

It’s been rumoured that Bruce Oldfield will create Camilla’s coronation gown.

Young predicted it will be “a much simpler design than previous queens have worn. This will not only reflect a more modern age, and an awareness of the cost of living crisis, but also respect for her role as consort.”

Harte pointed out that Camilla and other royals have been re-wearing a lot of outfits recently.

“Possibly to create a sense of continuity and to ease the abruptness of change, but also to accommodate the upcoming coronation, which is sure to see a lot of custom dresses worn by the royal ladies,” she said.

If Camilla follows tradition, there are certain garments she will most likely wear on Coronation Day.

“A purple velvet robe embroidered with gold is one of the most formal items we can expect to see her wear,” Harte said.

“Her dress will almost certainly be white and decorated with the emblematic flora of the commonwealth. Elizabeth II had coloured diamonds to make the pattern on her dress, the Queen Mother had them embroidered in gold.”

Queen Camilla will likely also be decked out in dazzling jewellery from the royal collection.

“It’s been confirmed that she will wear a modified version of Queen Mary’s crown,” Harte said.

“She’ll also be wearing the coronation necklace, and perhaps the matching earrings, which were made for Queen Victoria in 1858 and have been worn by every Queen and Queen Consort for their coronation since.”

The Royal Wardrobe by Rosie Harte is published by Headline, priced £22. Available on June 8.

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