Uniforms—by equestrian specialists Bernard Weatherill or Gieves & Hawkes; royal robes for state occasions—by Ede & Ravenscroft—all on the Row. Those understated handbags, discreet, but reassuringly expensive—by Launer, based in Walsall, a not very glamorous town in the Midlands which quietly turns out superb leatherwork, including saddlery for the Windsors, this most horsey of families. Brollies by Fulton (transparent when on duty—that focus on visibility again). Shoes mostly by Anello and Davide of London, which started out making shoes for ballet and theatrical dancers, before branching out in the 1960s when they made Chelsea boots for the Beatles—and patent leather shoes for the Queen, typically with a squarish two-inch heel. But what was the Queen, after all, gamely launching ships, opening schools and Parliaments with a heavy crown on her head, hosting “friendly” despots at home in the service of the nation, visiting the Commonwealth or going on royal walkabouts—but an accomplished and seemingly tireless performer, spending long days on her feet, often followed by long evenings of gala and speeches?
As for making an entrance for such occasions, it is easy to picture the young Queen gracefully exiting a Rolls-Royce Phantom, her Norman Hartnell gown topped off with diamond necklace and tiara. But equally indelible are the images of her in later years (and as played by Helen Mirren in The Queen) in off-duty mode—behind the wheel of a Land Rover, a sensibly dressed countrywoman wearing a Barbour and one of those Hermès scarves. And in the warrants HM’s downtime is represented by the likes of Musto (activewear), Hunter (wellington boots), Kinloch Anderson (kilts, in the Balmoral Tartan her forebear Prince Albert designed for her Scottish home, where she passed away this week). Not to forget James Purdey & Sons—the London gunmaking firm which has enjoyed the patronage of every British monarch since Queen Victoria.