Sovereign Style

Tomorrow, the UK celebrates Queen Elizabeth II’s 93rd birthday with all manner of pageantry. After spending close to seven decades in the public eye, the Queen has developed a personal aesthetic that’s both classic and distinctive. Time to knight some notables? She’s got a suit for that! Dining with dignitaries? The family jewels are at her fingertips! Fishing with Philip? Her kerchief will match her wellies! She eschews the trite and trendy, opting instead for timeless fashions that rarely look dated, even in 50-year-old photos. That kind of abiding style makes just as much sense when planning home interiors. How many of us have the wherewithal to revamp our homes every few years as styles change? (Even Buckingham Palace has stayed pretty much the same for centuries.) Sticking with enduring pieces just makes sense. Here are some looks from Her Majesty’s long career, along with ideas for incorporating queenly style into your home.

The Queen’s black and white combo here is softened by the curves of the stylized floral design. The same color scheme on this bread tray brings sophistication, while the floral design adds whimsy.

Left: On a state visit to Estonia, 2006. (Zanderz at English Wikipedia [Public domain]) | Right: Le Cadeaux melamine baguette tray and bread knife

The real winner here is the Queen, whose red houndstooth dress is outshining that trophy. A throw pillow in the same color and pattern would shine just as brightly on a sofa or bed.

Left: With Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum at Royal Ascot, 1995. (Wikimedia Commons Almaktoumfamily123 [CC BY-SA 4.0]) | Right: Bed Bath & Beyond Deny Designs Social Proper Candy Houndstooth pillow

Successfully combining dusty purple and celadon presents a high degree of difficulty. Both the Queen and this wallpaper manage that feat beautifully.

Left: Opening of The Scottish Parliament, 1999. (The Scottish Parliament [CC BY 2.0]) | Right: Tempaper Isabel Lime Orchard

I searched through the archives and could not find a reference to the color of this dress. In any case, it’s nice to see Her Majesty go off-brand a bit with a psychedelic ikat pattern that mesmerized King Gustaf and could be every bit as enthralling in armchair form.

Left: Meeting Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden, June 1954 (Robert Perrier [CC BY-SA 3.0 (]) | Right: Williams Sonoma Belvedere Dining Armchair, printed Zebra Ikat, blue, ebony leg

The Queen has said that she dresses in bold colors to be sure she is visible to spectators. This mug is just as likely to attract attention.

Left: In Whitehaven, England, June 2008. (Boredonsundays [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]) | Right: Katie Alice Eastern Flora Tankard Mug

Playful polka dots set just the right mood for chatting up children in 1959. Today, these handy bins make fun accessories for a kid’s room.

Nowadays, the Queen is known for her preference for solid colors, so I was surprised to see her in so many prints as I looked through the archives. This is one of the monarch’s more exuberant gowns, and its ebullience is captured in this throw.

The soothing tones of this gown and this armchair are broken up a bit to add interest: the gown features small, sparkling  facets and the chair features velvet patterning. Yada, yada, yada. I think the real consideration here is why is Crocodile Dundee dressed that way? Olivia Newton John is glammed up in red sequins. The guy with the sash is wearing tails. I can only assume Paul Hogan got the invite and thought, “She’s going to love my cutoff shirt and short shorts!” (To be fair, Elizabeth does look amused; but I have no explanation for the soccer socks.)

Left: Royal Charity Concert at the Sydney Opera House, 1980. (Commonwealth of Australia (National Archives of Australia) [CC BY 3.0 au]) | Right: Kevin O’Brien Studio, Brushstroke Comfy Lounge Chair

Another bold print from the Queen: this one, with its summery colors and swirly design, is reminiscent of the pottery pieces sold in certain parts of Italy.

Left: In Hong Kong, June 2010. (Roslhk [CC BY-SA 3.0 (] | Right: Italian Pottery Outlet Alcantara sugar bowl

This suit has a citrusy vibe that would work well in a kitchen incorporating this tile.

Left: In Belfast, 2012. (Titanic Belfast [CC BY 2.0 (]) | Right: JennoliART paisley tiles

Seafoam green imbued with pearl-like facets has a light, airy look suitable for both royal outings and summer soirées.

Left: Diamond Jubilee celebrations, June 2012. (Carfax2 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (] | Right: Horchow 12-piece seaside dinnerware service (This set is currently sold out.)

The Queen is leading the way looking very sharp and professional here. The blue-hue combination also works for more casual occasions.

Left: In Frankfurt, Germany, June 2015. (Kiefer. From Frankfurt, Germany [CC BY-SA 2.0]) | Right: Penelope Hope deck chair

I’ll be honest; this is not one of my favorites on the Queen. (And I’m sure my opinion upsets her greatly.) There’s something about the flower appliqués that looks less than distinguished. This tile shows you can have fun with flowers but still create a sophisticated look.

Left: At Royal Albert Hall, 2018. (Ralph PH [CC BY 2.0(] | Right: Tilebar Wildflower Pale Oak Marble Tile

This flowy gown is striking in the midst of all the black tuxes. These sheer window treatments stand out against any background. (Also, shout out to Princess Margaret in a chipper floral frock and the Queen Mum, regal in silver and gold. Those ladies knew how to dress with panache.)

Left: With President Jimmy Carter, 1977. (National Archives and Records Administration [Public domain]) | Right: All Modern Silverton Sheer rod pocket single curtain panel