13 July 2023

King and Queen enjoy sneak preview of coronation display before Palace opens to public

13 July 2023

Coronation outfits worn by the King and Queen for their historic crowning are going on public display for the first time as part of the summer opening of Buckingham Palace.

Charles and Camilla toured the special exhibition in the Palace ballroom privately on Wednesday, ahead of the official opening on Friday, with a Royal Collection spokeswoman revealing: “They enjoyed it. They came yesterday.”

Members of the public will be able to follow in their footsteps to see the intricate needlework on Camilla’s coronation dress up close, including the embroidered motifs of her pet dogs – described by the curator as potentially the first two goldwork terriers in history – and the names of her grandchildren.

Also on show is Charles’s lengthy deep purple Robe of Estate and his vivid purple coronation tunic – worn on the way out of Westminster Abbey – and the Queen’s matching robe.

Sally Goodsir, curator for the Royal Collection Trust, said of Camilla’s Bruce Oldfield ivory coat-like coronation dress: “I think it’s really nice that the visitors will be able to see a lot of detail in the embroidery because obviously with the distance of the television cameras and ceremony, it wasn’t always possible to see.

“But there’s chains of British wildflowers, strings of bunting in the embroidery and I think potentially the first two goldwork Jack Russell terriers in history on the skirts.

“They are Her Majesty’s dogs, Beth and Bluebell, both rescue dogs.

“And also on the underskirt, you can see quite clearly ‘Gus’ beside one of the dogs, but all the names of her grandchildren are embroidered as well.

“So there’s a little part of her family that went with her on that occasion.”

More than a quarter of a million tourists are expected to descend on the Palace over the coming weeks for the first summer opening of the King’s reign.

It also marks the 30th anniversary of the first time the royal residence was opened up to the public.

The Queen gave permission for paying visitors to start touring the Palace in 1993 to raise money for the restoration of Windsor Castle following its devastating fire the year before.

The display centres on the Palace Ballroom, where the King and Queen took part in secret rehearsals for the day, and where a replica coronation theatre, which is not on show, was built to help them.

Their priceless coronation crowns do not form part of the exhibition.

The gold St Edward’s Crown, which was used at the moment of the King’s crowning, the Imperial State Crown, worn by the King on his return journey, and Camilla’s Queen Mary’s Crown will remain, as is custom, with the rest of the Crown Jewels, safely guarded in the Tower of London.

Items on show include the anointing screen, behind which Charles was blessed with holy oil in private during the most sacred part of the May 6 ceremony, sketches of the coronation invitations, and the Diamond Jubilee State Coach which ferried the monarch and his consort to the Abbey on the day.

A display of photographs is included, charting the key moments of the new King’s life, capturing him as a baby with his mother, as a child with his family and with the late Queen at the Platinum Jubilee.

Also on show is the sparkling diamond coronation necklace worn by Camilla, which features the 22-carat Lahore Diamond pendant.

The necklace was made for Queen Victoria in 1858 and has been worn at every coronation since 1902.

The special Coronation display is part of a visit to the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace from July 14 until September 14 2023.

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