Why Queen Elizabeth Just Attended Her First-Ever Fashion Week At Age 91

Queen Elizabeth made her London Fashion Week debut seated front row, next to Anna Wintour. Here's what happened.
By Courtney Shea
queen elizabeth and anna wintour: Queen Elizabeth shown attending a fashion show Queen Elizabeth, Anna Wintour and Angela Kelly, the Queen's personal assistant and dressmaker. Photo, Yui Mok/Pool/Getty Images.

Queen Elizabeth II has never been one for flashy fashion statements. Still, Her Majesty was the woman to watch at London Fashion Week. Attending her first-ever LFW runway show, the reluctant style icon sat front row (of course), next to Vogue editor Anna Wintour, and appeared to have the jolliest of times.

But what was she doing there? Why now? And does this mean we can expect to see HRH on the cover of Vogue some time soon?


First thing's first: What was she wearing?

Subtle as always, the 91-year-old monarch made her LFW debut in a duck-egg blue dress-and-jacket combo by Angela Kelly, who has overseen her Majesty’s most significant fashion moments for a while now. The Queen’s #OOTD also included Swarovski crystal piping (sassy), a brooch (classic) and a pair of black gloves — because white gloves are sooooo last century.

What, no hat?

While the Queen is to flashy headgear as Prince George is to short pants, contemporary royal dress code dictates that women must only wear hats on formal occasions.

Why is HRH attending Fashion Week now?

It’s true that Elizabeth II has reigned for 65 years without once setting foot in a fashion week tent. Also true is that, given a few hours, the British tabs will probably start pushing a narrative about how the Queen is showing emerging style icon Meghan Markle who’s boss. But the real story is a little less scandalous: Her Royal Highness attended Fashion Week to present the first-ever Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design to the emerging English designer Richard Quinn.


The award is intended to honour new talent while celebrating the UK’s formidable fashion legacy. Quoth the Queen from centre runway: “From the tweed of the Hebrides to Nottingham lace, and of course Carnaby Street, our fashion industry has been renowned for outstanding craftsmanship for many years, and continues to produce world-class textiles and cutting edge, practical designs.”

As for why now: We are talking about a woman who assumed the throne shortly after the war and oversaw the decline of the British Empire. QE2 has always been cast as bit of a wet blanket when it comes to fun and frivolity, but perhaps she was simply too busy to indulge her inner fashion fiend.

Queen Elizabeth, Anna Wintour and Angela Kelly at Richard Quinn fashion show. Queen Elizabeth presented Anna Wintour with a Damehood last year. Photo, Yui Mok/Pool/Getty Images.

Are Queen Elizabeth and Anna Wintour friends?

While they’re probably not swapping sensible blazers or texting about the next gen’s scandalous fashion sense, the Queen and the “devil” behind The Devil Wears Prada have met before. Just last spring in fact, when British-born Wintour visited Buckingham Palace to accept her Damehood from HRH and even removed her sunglasses while doing so. Vogue’s reigning chief did not lose her signature eyewear for the Queen’s Fashion Week visit, a move some are calling royally inappropriate.

Did they chat at Fashion Week?

This video clip shows that they did exchange at least a few words. We’re guessing some talk about the collection. And perhaps some pleasantries around who has the better poker face and the pros and cons of an eternal hairstyle.

Might Wintour be wooing the Queen to appear on a Vogue cover?


Don’t be bloody ridiculous. While future cover subjects can often be guessed at by who flanks AW at Fashion Week, this is not such an occasion.

Was the appearance a total surprise?

By several accounts, a shocked hush fell over the room as the Queen entered, but a select few insiders did know of the operation in advance, including Wintour and Richard Quinn, who told the Telegraph that he “only found out a few days ago,” and tweaked his show — full of bright colours and bold head-to-toe prints — to honour his VIP guest.

Quinn decided to “really ham it up” in terms of the headscarves that were tied to reflect her Majesty’s driving and hunting look. He describes his latest collection as a “tongue-in-cheek take on Balmoral.” Vogue, on the other hand, has described his aesthetic as "distinct[ly] BDSM.”

Good heavens! Does the Queen know that?

The Queen has spent more than half a century ensuring that a stiff upper lip is Britain’s most essential accessory. A racy fashion show is not likely to rattle.

Watch: Queen Elizabeth at London Fashion Week with Anna Wintour


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