ABOVE: Ladies, gentlemen, and officers at
court. INSET BELOW: 19th Century court dress.
Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection
After you've shown your tickets to the guard and picked up your
audioguide, you'll enter the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection. In these rooms,
you'll see display cases with mannequins outfitted in ceremonial dress from the
18th Century until modern times. Most costumes are displayed in a real-life
context: e.g., in the workrooms of a seamstress and tailor, in a ladies'
dressing room, and at social events from different eras.
The displays of court dress are especially interesting, if only
because of the rigid codes that governed clothing worn by the ladies,
debutantes, and gentlemen who attended social functions in the palace. (The
tradition of wearing special court clothing persisted until World War II, when
ostrich-feather headresses and trains finally disappeared from aristocratic
You can also see a large selection of dresses owned by Queen
Elizabeth II. Changing temporary exhibits, such as a recent display of the
Queen's hats mounted on rotating spindles, provide a bonus for repeat visitors.
Warning: The display rooms can be crowded on weekends or during
summer, so find a corner or a place along the wall to stand while listening to
the audioguide. The narration is well worth hearing.
© HRP. Used by permission.