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Rarely seen royal robes loaned to Queen Mother’s Glamis Castle childhood home for coronation exhibition

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A spectacular display of royal robes has been unveiled at the childhood home of the Queen Mother, 80 years to the day since the coronation of King George VI and Elizabeth of Glamis.

In a major coup for Glamis Castle, dresses, robes and coronets worn during the Westminster Abbey ceremony of May 12 1937 have been loaned for a stunning exhibition set to draw thousands of visitors to the Angus landmark.

Mary, Dowager Countress of Strathmore with Lord Airlie in the exhibition
Mary, Dowager Countress of Strathmore with Lord Airlie in the exhibition

Mary, Dowager Countess of Strathmore officially opened the exhibition, welcoming guests including Lord Airlie, who was a page that day and, alongside The Queen, is one of the last surviving members of the royal procession.

The display includes dresses, robes and coronets worn by the Queen Mother, Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret and the robes worn by the 14th Earl and Countess of Strathmore.

It also features a sketch of Claude, the 14th Earl, from the Windsor Castle archives and has never been on public display until now.

Castle general manager Tommy Baxter said: “The idea came to me last year when I was reading a book about the coronation of King George VI and realised that 2017 would be the 80th anniversary of that historic occasion.

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“I wondered if this was being marked in some way by any other royal households in the UK and got in touch with Jonathan Marsden at the Royal Collection.

“He steered me in the right direction and provided the wonderful sketch of Claude, the 14th earl, which has never been on public display before.”

Mr Baxter was then put in touch with the Queen’s senior dresser and personal assistant, Angela Kelly, who assisted with the royal robes and, along with her assistant Jackie Newbold, transported the relevant pieces from the Queen’s collection from London to Scotland, by train and in two very large suitcases.

“So many people have come together to make this exhibition something special and it is very fitting to celebrate the 80th anniversary of such a significant historic event at the childhood home of the Queen Mother, who was crowned that day as Queen Consort alongside her husband King George VI.

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“The items are the Queen’s personal property and it is with her direct permission that they will be on display here at Glamis until the end of October.”

 

Ermine, gold and the emblems of the empire

The stunning centrepiece to the King George VI and Elizabeth of Glamis exhibition is the five-and-a-half metre long robe of estate worn by the Queen Mother over her Madame Handley Seymour-designed gown on the day she and her husband were crowned.

Combining the cape and train, it was woven on handlooms by the Essex firm of Warner and Sons and took forty embroideresses, working in shifts of twelve at a time, two months to complete.

The heavy purple silk velvet is lined with ermine and features no fewer than ten different types of gold thread.

Madame Handley Seymour – who also made the Queen Mother’s wedding gown – incorporated in the design the thistle of Scotland, Tudor rose of England, acorns for the UK, the fern of New Zeland, protea of South Africa and the lotus flower symbolising Elizabeth’s status as the last Empress of India.

Alongside the Earl of Airlie’s outfit for his duties as a page is the uniform of his father, who was Lord Chamberlain to the Queen Mother.

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