13 settembre 2022
by Rita Lofano

The queen in color


If you ask children, even in Italy, who the queen is, they answer without hesitation “Elisabetta”. For seventy years, she was the "Queen of the World" (in the words of Robert Hardman, journalist among the leading experts on the Royal Family). 

My 13-year-old daughter and her friends all posted stories on social media when they learned of the Queen's death. They wrote that her hands were purple just a few days earlier, when she appointed the new prime minister at Balmoral Castle, in Scotland. But the name of the new prime minister (Liz Truss) didn't appear in any of their posts; they couldn't remember it. There is only one queen in the collective imagination, “the one and only Queen Elizabeth.”

When she died, aged 96, a double rainbow appeared over Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, the iconic residences of her reign

She was crowned 7 years after the end of the Second World War, at  the age of 25. The British Prime Minister was Winston Churchill; the President of the United States was Harry Truman. And when she died, at the age of 96, a double rainbow appeared over Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, the symbolic residences of her reign. An unequivocal sign for the British, most of whom had only ever known her as monarch: a farewell to her people by Elizabeth who loved all the colors of the rainbow for her outfits (strictly monochrome). An incredible coincidence. In Greek mythology (and not only) the rainbow is a bridge between the human and the divine. And when “London Bridge is down” (code phrase for the Queen's death) these two arcs of light appear in the sky.

In 70 years, Elizabeth appointed 15 prime ministers out of 56 in the history of the Britain since the office was established. Strong and charismatic monarchs have a long tradition in the United Kingdom, from Queen Boudicca of the Iceni tribe who led the revolt against the Romans, to Elizabeth I victorious over Spain ruled by Philip II, to Queen Victoria who transformed the British empire into the greatest in history. It is probably no coincidence that, of the 15 prime ministers appointed by Elizabeth II, three are women: Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May and Liz Truss. This is in marked contrast with Italy (but also with the United States), where there has never been a female head of state or government.

Elisabetta met the greats of the Earth, wove diplomatic networks, was the queen of style and soft power.  In an article titled ‘Clothing, Her Majesty's Secret Service’, Vanity Fair magazine observed how Queen Elizabeth II communicated through the clothes she wore. “She is not a politician, but she sends political messages about when she aspires to take action in a state or community. She is not a diplomat, but dresses respecting the rules of diplomacy. And she does everything subtly, without shouting, even though it seems so when she decides to dress in shocking pink.”

It is said that Her Majesty's favorite color was blue, in homage to the United Kingdom, but sky blue is the shade that dominated her wardrobe. She is dressed in sky blue in the photo projected in her honor in Piccadilly Circus on the day of her death (you can bet she chose it herself). She also opted for sky blue for the jubilee celebrating 70 years on the throne. Each color conveys a message. Black is mourning, brown is a bad mood (like when Meghan and Harry left their life as royals), sky blue for Elizabeth II was joy.

Fashion critic Guy Trebay, in the New York Times, described her clothes are Warhol-esque, in their pop simplicity. She did not follow fashion, she was original but deliberately consistent, to give a sense of continuity, instill confidence, as her role required. All her life, she wore the same type of footwear: brogues with laces and loafers with a brass horsebit or chain as a decoration, handmade by Anello & Davide, a shoemaker in Kensington with an Italian name.

It is said that Her Majesty's favorite color was blue, in homage to the United Kingdom, but sky blue is the shade that dominated her wardrobe

Her handbags have always been Launer London, 100% British, in leather with a short handle. Moving the bag from the left arm to the right meant the conversation was over. The bag on the floor was a call for help in the event of an unpleasant encounter. Brooches and scarves were another great passion: floral crests of the Windsor family; set with rare diamonds. Each with its own story. In 2018, she was photographed smiling in the front row at London Fashion Week, sitting next to Anna Wintour. She rewarded Richard Quinn with the Queen Elizabeth Award for British Design. The style was hers, the taste of others. She didn't need to be trendy, she was “the Queen”. Original.  

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