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The golden gown chosen by a queen empress for her crowning moment

While there is a traditional uniform for kings at their coronation, there is not for queens. This has allowed each queen to wear a gown specifically created for their coronation day. Queen Alexandra’s coronation dress remains one of the most sumptuous in British history. 

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra’s coronation encountered some serious issues. Originally planned for the 26th of June in 1902, it had to be postponed until 2 August as Edward required emergency surgery only two days prior to the original ceremony. He was suffering from an abdominal abscess that required treatment. He spent much of the summer recuperating. 

Queen Alexandra is still known as a royal fashion icon. She was a trendsetter for most of her adult life, and many trends of the 19th century can be traced directly to Alexandra (such as the princess silhouette). Her coronation dress was no exception. 

Alexandra turned to another very fashionable aristocrat to help create her coronation gown, Lady Curzon. Mary Curzon, Baroness Curzon of Kedleston was an American who had married into the British aristocracy and served as Vicereine of India when her husband was chosen to be Viceroy. She happened to be wearing a gown made from Indian fabrics when she and Alexandra crossed paths at a garden party. 

The Queen immediately recognised two things: Mary’s sense of fashion and the importance of wearing Indian cloth. While in India, Mary had deviated from the English norm of only wearing European clothing- most European women in Asia refused to wear any Asian fabrics or garments. Alexandra understood that using Indian cloth in her coronation gown would help to emphasise the connection between Britain and India. 

The Queen asked Lady Curzon to help design and make her gown in India but in secret. She had the gown made in lightweight gold, woven fabrics to counteract the heavy robes that Alexandra would be wearing. And as per Alexandra’s request, the fabric was designed with the English rose, the Scottish thistle, and the Irish shamrock. After the gown was brought back from India and Alexandra approved it, the gown was finished at the House of Worth in Paris. 

The gown is now held by Historic Royal Palaces. 

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