As the nation watches Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral today (September 19) marking eleven days since Her Majesty’s passing at the age of 96, we look to the wardrobe etiquette required for a royal funeral and what the Royal Family are wearing to the sombre event.
Attending proceedings at Westminster Abbey are royals, family members, heads of state, government representatives and, of course, King Charles III. But what are guests expected to wear? As the country takes a moment to watch the former monarch’s funeral, what did guests wear to mourn Her Majesty?
What is the dress code for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral?
Unsurprisingly, as with most funerals, the dress code for state funerals is also all-black, according to Debrett’s, a chronicler of British society and modern manners. Specifically, women are expected to wear ‘black knee-length dresses, or coats, black hats, and may also wear face-covering veils.’
The new Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton wore a black coat dress with a wide brim black hat and veil and finished the outfit with a pearl necklace and earrings previously worn by the late Princess Diana.
The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle also opted to wear a wide brim black hat that complemented her understated cape dress. Markle completed her outfit with the same pair of pearl earrings she wore to the procession of the coffin, gifted to the Duchess by the Queen in 2018.
Camilla, Queen Consort, donned a tailored black coat dress paired with a floral effect hat and veil and accessorised with a diamond brooch once owned by Queen Victoria.
Camilla, Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle, have already attended multiple public outings as part of the proceedings surrounding the Queen’s death, all wearing head-to-toe black including hats and sheer black tights.
Middleton paid homage to the late Queen Elizabeth by wearing a diamond and pearl leaf-shaped brooch gifted to her by Her Majesty. Markle also chose to show her respect for her grandmother-in-law with her jewellery, sporting a pair of pearl earrings given to her by the Queen.
Male non-members of the Royal Family will be expected to wear black morning coats, with medals if they have military experience, however stricter rules apply for working royals who must wear military uniform, whether male or female, as in Princess Anne’s case who wore her Royal Navy ceremonial uniform to her late mother’s funeral.
On Wednesday, September 14, for the procession of the Lying-in-State, which bore the Queen’s coffin to Westminster Hall, King Charles III wore a full day ceremonial uniform with the rank of Field Marshal, carried a Field Marshal baton and to his lapel were pinned the Order of Merit and the Order of the Garter Sash and Star. He is dressed in the same regalia today for his mother’s State Funeral.
William, the new Prince of Wales, wore his Royal Air Force No. 1 uniform, the same military uniform the Duke wore as the Queen’s coffin was transported on the George Gun Carriage.
Prince Harry chose to forego military uniform, instead opting for a traditional black morning jacket with medals.
Whether Prince Harry would wear his military uniform has been the subject of discussion for the past week. Previously, the Queen’s grandson had been told he would not be permitted to wear his military uniform to a vigil with his cousins beside the Queen’s coffin that took place on Saturday evening as he is no longer a working member of the Royal Family, despite serving in the army for a decade.
However, Buckingham Palace made an exception, providing a special dispensation for both Prince Harry and the Duke of York as a ‘final mark of respect’ for the Queen.
What did non-Royal guests wear?
In line with traditional funeral dress codes, Her Majesty’s funeral requires non-Royal guests to wear all-black.
Some of the first non-Royal guests within the wider family to arrive at Westminster Abbey were Michael and Carol Middleton, the Princess of Wales’ parents. Keeping with expectations, Michael Middleton wore a black morning jacket and tie whilst Carole Middleton sported a black dress coat, court shoes and a feathered hat.
Shortly after the Middletons, President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden arrived. The President chose to forego traditional British dress, opting for a classic black suit in place of a morning jacket, whilst Jill Biden donned a black skirt suit and fascinator.