How the Queen has set her own rules on style over 70 years in the public’s gaze

31 May 2022

As the Queen celebrates her Platinum Jubilee – and we enjoy a four-day weekend – it’s a chance to celebrate Elizabeth II, who has cultivated a classic signature look over her years on the throne.

As a young queen she was regal, elegant and had an effortless style that made her look elegant and chic – whether she was working, or off duty.

Queen Elizabeth II at work, seated at her desk in Buckingham Palace, London. The Queen is seen opening one of the ‘boxes’ in which documents and papers, sorted for her attention, are sent upstairs by the Private Secretary. Behind the Queen is the Palace switchboard (PA Images)

Be it cutting a ribbon, Trooping the Colour or opening Parliament, her make-up tends to be minimal.

Indeed, the Queen has followed her own set of beauty rules…

Keep your hair consistent

The Queen arrives for the 2007 Royal Variety Performance at the Empire Theatre, Liverpool.Anna Gowthorpe/PA Archive/PA Images

“The Queen is impeccably stylish and because most of her hair turned white, it has a brilliance which can be quite flattering,” says hairdresser Michael Van Clarke (vanclarke.com).

“She also shows great fortitude in maintaining her heyday look, and wasn’t tempted by fashion to update it – probably a good call while we all went through the Pudding Basin, the Shag and the Scrunch. But whilst I understand the symbolism in continuity and stability, I would have loosened the hair a little so it was softer and more fluid, and less tight and curly around the sides and back.”

Queen Elizabeth II on board the Royal Yacht Britannia, when she held a dinner in honour of the Emir of Bahrain, Sheikh Isa bin Sulman al Khalifa.

But as Van Clarke points out: “Her hair has to look good all the time from all angles, and hats or tiaras need to be fixed without risk of toppling. All these aspects have to be considered.”

Keep your complexion clear

“She has always been very classic, and never overdoes it”, says Gia Mills, celebrity makeup artist and founder of Skin in Motion (skininmotion.com). “The Queen uses matt, natural-looking coverage that colour matches perfectly as she is photographed.”

Queen Elizabeth II meets woodworkers during a walkabout in the Slovakian village of Spisska Sobota with President Ivan Gasparovic.

“She also knows that as you age, adding a hint of colour to the cheeks helps bring the complexion to life,” Mills continues.

Don’t overdo your brows

Queen Elizabeth II speaking to John Diefenbaker, Prime Minister of Canada. She was inaugurating CANTAT (Canadian Trans-Atlantic Telephone) cable by making the first call to Ottawa.

“She is fuss-free with her brows – no over-pencilling or much defining,” observes Mills. “It isn’t a focus for her from a make-up point of view.”

Keep eye make-up minimal

“She is very conservative with her eye make-up, she never oversteps it and relies more on her lip colour to make the impact,” says Mills.

Queen Elizabeth II arrives for the Royal Variety Performance, at London’s Dominion Theatre.

Particularly in recent years, Mills notes the Queen looks like she’s barely wearing any eye make-up at all. “A touch of mascara would be the only thing, as a make-up artist, I would want to add to her look,” she says.

“A waterproof one, to minimise any panda eye fails, would be a lovely touch to open up her eyes.”

Use lips for a bit of fun

Queen Elizabeth II during the Royal Garden Party at Holyrood in Edinburgh.

Mills suggests this is where the Queen has had some fun and really expressed herself.

“She uses her lip colour as a way to bring her face to life. The Queen has used a variety of different pinks over the years, working beautifully with her bold colour block outfits,” notes Mills. “Her classic use of lipstick is her secret weapon.”

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