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The Queen's Dress and Jewellery Exhibition

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

RUNNING for the duration of the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace – from July 26 to September 24, 2006 – is the largest ever exhibition of The Queen’s dresses and jewellery.

Celebrating Her Majesty’s 80th birthday, the exhibition features 80 spectacular gowns from the 1940s to the present day – all worn by The Queen, either for official engagements or private family events.

The display not only shows the work of leading British couturiers Norman Hartnell and Hardy Amies but also those designers who have worked for Her Majesty in more recent years.

Hartnell designs on show include the kingfisher-blue silk and lace dress with matching jacket that The Queen wore for Princess Margaret’s wedding in 1960.

It was Hartnell who frequently incorporated national colours, emblems or flowers into his designs as a compliment to the country The Queen was visiting. And since her accession to the throne in 1952, The Queen has visited over 325 countries on official duties.

But whereas Hartnell began designing for the then Princess Elizabeth in the 1940s, Amies’ work began in the early 1950s. And it was the deceptive simplicity of his accomplished tailoring that established him as a leading couturier.

The dress pictured is a fine example and was worn by The Queen in 1957 at a dinner given for her at the White House by President Eisenhower.

The selection of jewellery includes private gifts to The Queen from members of the Royal Family, plus some of the most famous and historic pieces in Her Majesty’s collection.

The latter includes the Vladimir Tiara, the Cambridge Emerald Necklace and two brooches set with stones from the famous Cullinan Diamond.