A look back at the intriguing history of royal family mourning dress codes
Right after the news of the demise of Queen Elizabeth II went public, members of the British royal family ditched their colourful attires for a more sombre dress code to express grief and sadnesses through their sartorial picks. Donning black from head to toe, the royals attended the funeral of the late monarch on September 19 and paid their last tributes.
The tradition of wearing only black during the mourning period dates back to medieval times when women were expected to only wear black caps and veils when their husbands died. Today, in the 21st century, the tradition still exists and it is a major part of the royal family's mourning dress codes.
If we look back in the history of the British royal family, Queen Victoria is perhaps the most prominent royal figure when it comes to wearing black as the mourning dress.
After the death of Prince Albert in 1861, Queen Victoria wore black every single day for over 40 years, until her own death. Her jewellery was also specially designed and commissioned to remind everyone of her lost family members. And according to the curator at Historic Royal Palaces, Matthew Storey, the mourning dress has been a major part of European royal culture for centuries, but it reached its peak in the 19th century with the influence of Queen Victoria, who set a standard for the rest of society to follow".
"When her beloved husband died in 1861 she abandoned the colourful clothes of her married life and, with the rest of the royal court, adopted black clothing as an outward sign of grief. Her subjects duly followed suit, causing a rush on suppliers of mourning fabric up and down the country," Storey told The Telegraph.
Another famous instance regarding the royals and the black mourning dress code takes us back to King George VI's death. At the time of her father's demise, the then Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were in Kenya and they quickly rushed back to Britain upon hearing the news of the monarch's demise. However, when Elizabeth II reached the UK, she didn't have a black dress in her luggage. So, she decided to wait in the jet till one of her staff got her a modest black dress. That's how strictly the royals follow their dress codes. Since then, every royal family member is mandated to pack at least one black outfit in their luggage every time they fly out of the country.