Much thought goes into the Royal Family’s clothes – every outfit choice is deliberate and significant. As fashion expert and personal stylist Samantha Harman told Express.co.uk, “the royals are the best example of why what you wear matters”. She added: “They use clothing to build and sustain relationships, convey messages, and help causes they feel passionately about.”
So, did the royals’ matching burgundy outfits last week convey a message? Celebrity stylist Miranda Holder thought so.
She said: “Traditionally, more junior members of the Royal Family are discouraged from wearing the same hue as their more senior counterparts at royal appointments.
“However, William, Kate and their family have frequently all worn similar shades of the same colour as a show of solidarity and togetherness – besides it looking more aesthetically pleasing and subtly branded for the photographs.”
William has often worn a tie the same colour as Kate’s dress for special occasions. One of the first examples was back in 2015, when William wore an orange tie to coordinate with Kate’s orange dress while the couple watched Andy Murray play at Wimbledon.
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In 2017, on the last day of the then Cambridges’ tour of Poland and Germany, William, Kate, and their two children headed to the airport in matching outfits.
Kate’s lilac Emilia Wickstead dress coordinated with William’s purple tie, as well as George’s pink and purple shirt and Charlotte’s pink and purple dress.
During a 2020 tour of Ireland, both royals wore green in a not-so-subtle tribute to the nation. In Pakistan, a year earlier, the notion was similar – Kate and William wore matching outfits to honour the country and its people.
Kate wore a glittering, dark green Jenny Packham dress with a traditional dupatta scarf, while William donned a matching dark green sherwani – a knee-length button-up coat.
Even for the Waleses’ most recent Christmas card, their outfits seemed to have been carefully chosen to coordinate. William and Kate both wore jeans, while the children were dressed in hues of blue.
On a bigger scale, at the Trooping of the Colour earlier this year, in June, all the royal women wore shades of blue. Perhaps blue was chosen because it “communicates you are in a position of authority, trustworthy, reliable and can be depended on” in colour psychology, according to Karen Haller, behavioural colour psychologist and author of The Little Book of Colour.
In an interview with MyLondon, Karen noted that the royals often wear the same colour when they are together. She said at the time: “The Cambridges are showing they are coming together as a family when they wear the same hue, representing themselves as a cohesive unit.”
This seemed to be the case last week at Westminster Abbey – the Royal Family showed a united front, but not necessarily in the face of adversity or threat as it has been reported this week.
Celebrity stylist Miranda added: “It was simply a fashion flex of resilience, showing the world that they shall not be brought down, and that they shall keep calm and carry on while looking elegant and stylish in the process.”
Another reason why the family decided on one colour, and burgundy specifically, could be because it is not only festive, but also Pantone’s colour of the year.
Head of e-commerce at luxury cashmere brand N.Peal, Jo McLaren, offered her expertise, telling Express.co.uk: “Pantone’s colour of 2023 would have definitely influenced the united display of burgundy by the royals last week.
“Last year, Kate Middleton opted for a bold shade of red for the concert, this year that doesn’t feel apt after the passing of the Queen and the current tribulations that the royals are experiencing.
“Whilst still being festive, burgundy is more sedate and considered than red. It shows a greater emotional depth, maturity and a deeper sense of composure which is exactly what the royals are keen to show the world right now, in a more unified way than ever before.”
Like Miranda, Meghan Markle too has said in the past that it seems one royal sartorial rule is that junior royals are not permitted to wear the same colour as a senior royal to a joint engagement.
In Netflix’s Harry & Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex said: “To my understanding, you can’t ever wear the same colour as Her Majesty, if there’s a group event. But then you also should never be wearing the same colour as one of the other more senior members of the family.”
However, royal fashion expert and author of HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style, Elizabeth Holmes, noted that many royal fashion rules are “myths”.
“There’s this expectation on how they look with this need to be stylish but sensible, fancy but frugal. It’s a very fine line that they are walking,” Elizabeth told Insider in an interview.
In her book, the author went on to say that while there are some royal style protocols, most of them are not true and are just part of a “broader cultural insistence on sophisticated modesty, an expectation that they be composed and presentable at all times”.
Elizabeth added that the royals have many stylists who would never allow them to intentionally break a written fashion rule. Their job is also to prevent any fashion faux pas.
She said: “These women [female royals] are very famous, but they are not celebrities with free agencies. They cannot do or say what they please. They are working on behalf of the family and the Crown.”