H.M. The Queen’s Visit to Ireland: How Style Set the Diplomatic Tone

The Queen has just returned from her historic state trip to the Republic of Ireland, with her grace, dignity and diplomacy catching headlines. With so many public events scheduled, we all had high hopes for her wardrobe, particularly in the wake of the royal wedding. And I’m glad to say that Her Majesty did not disappoint! We got to see some of her more classic ensembles while at the same time we saw some innovative creations focusing on contrasting colours. In particular, what made this state trip so special in the style stakes was the level of thought and care taken in choosing colours, accessories and trimmings to compliment the guest nation and subtly support the Queen’s diplomatic relations.

The Queen arrives in Ireland (on the left is President Mary McAleese)

At the Rock of Cashel on the final day of her trip

As the Queen disembarked from her plane on arrival in Ireland, first glimpses of her drew instant approval from all. She was dressed head to toe in green, the national colour of the Emerald Isle. This was a perfect, humble gesture from the monarch to her host country. She had chosen the colour with a great deal of thought and tact, careful not to be too brash and assuming by appearing to adopt a true emerald shade of green as her own (which could have been misinterpreted as thinking that the country was under her rule), and equally considerate not to choose a shade which was so far removed from emerald that it missed the mark. It was touching to see one of our country’s finest rulers in history tactfully and tastefully play homage to their hosts in a foreign land in such a subtle manner. The first sight of the Queen at the airport really set the tone of warmth and friendship for her state trip. This gesture of friendship was repeated on the last day of H. M.’s state visit, when she visited the Rock of Cashel in a green dress coat matched with a blue brooch and hat, which added a flash of colour to the ensemble.

Garden of Remembrance

Trinity College, Dublin

The visit to the Garden of Remembrance was one of the most controversial moments in the state visit, and H. M.’s universally clear, symbolic gesture of bowing her head to the monument to the fallen has drawn widespread coverage and approval. Once again, her outfit played an excellent supporting role on the day. The pattern of the trimming on her dress coat, picket up by the floral detail on the hat, reflects the circular shape and leafy nature of the wreath she laid as an offering of remembrance. Wearing black accessories was a classic choice for such a visit, and fully appropriate given that President of Ireland wore funeral black. However, the Queen’s outfit came with an optional brightly coloured brooch which was worn for her visit to Trinity College Dublin later in the day, which really lifted the outfit for a more joyful occasion.

At the Guinness Brewery

At the Irish National Stud

H. M. really triumphed with her outfits worn to the Guinness brewery and National Stud, which echoed each other through the reversal of the colour palette. At the Guinness brewery, a bright and breezy ensemble set the tone for a leisurely visit and a fun day out. Her coral dress coat was teamed with a wonderfully matching hat, in a light sky blue which mimics the blue spring sky and just exudes joy, whose trim of course matched her dress. What really finished off this outfit and added a taste of innovation to her classic style was the way that the buttons on her dress matched the sky blue of the hat and the white feathers picked up the ivory of her classic three-string set of pearls.

Hat by Philip Somerville

A fabulous hat

The ensemble worn at the National Stud was a veritable sequel to her earlier outfit at the Guinness brewery. Just as the ensemble worn for the Guinness brewery had a coral base with blue detailing, the outfit worn for the National Stud had a blue base with ivory detailing: echoing her earlier outfit as if in reply. Her whole presentation was unified by her wonderful summer hat by Philip Somerville, which took everyone’s breath away. The blue of her dress was reflected in the stunning central lace detailing, while the white straw of the hat evoked the ivory of her pearls, gloves and trimming of the dress coat. The hat itself was mimicked by her brooch, which had a diamond outline with a sapphire centre.

Greeting David Cameron at the State Dinner, Dublin Castle

H.M.'s historic speech at Dublin Castle

The State Dinner at Dublin Castle was the high point of the visit, with H. M. delivering a truly historic speech. Once again, her dress played the supporting role perfectly and set the tone. In an ivory ball gown, the Queen appeared ethereal and sublime. Teamed with an understated, yet stunning, crown and necklace she appeared regal, but not imperial. This ensemble was yet another example of how thoughtfully and carefully her outfits have been considered. As H. M. gave her historical speech, her dress was complimented by a diamond brooch in the shape of an Irish harp, a gesture which accompanied the sentiment of her speech as she extended a humble, kind and warm hand of friendship to Ireland. I think that the evening demonstrated that H. M. embodies a true and innate noblesse which is scarcely found in today’s world.

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