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British Royals

How the House of Windsor paid tribute to the reign of its founder at the Platinum Jubilee celebrations

As the Royal Family arrived for the Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral during the Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022, one colour stood out. Many of the women in the royal party chose to wear pink. And there may well have been a rather special reason it was so dominant. For pastel pink provides a link with the very first Jubilee that Queen Elizabeth II attended.

Zara Tindall in bright pink at her grandmother’s Platinum Jubilee. Queen Elizabeth II wore pink for her own grandfather’s Jubilee in 1935
(Stephen Lock/ i-Images)

Back in 1935, her grandfather, King George V, celebrated the 25th anniversary of his reign. It was the first time that Britain had ever marked a Silver Jubilee, for until the late 19th century royalty only marked half centuries or more with anniversary celebrations. The then Princess Elizabeth was very close to her grandparents and an integral part of their festivities. And on the morning of May 6 1935, the Silver Jubilee day of George V and Queen Mary, the young princess accompanied them to the Service of Thanksgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral, dressed in pastel pink.

Queen Elizabeth II, then a princess, and her sister, Margaret Rose, are seen in pink in a portrait of the Jubilee celebrations of King George V and Queen Mary
(Frank O. Salisbury, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Elizabeth and her sister, Margaret Rose, wore pink coats and dresses along with matching hats. They sat directly behind George V and Queen Mary throughout the Service and later took to the balcony of Buckingham Palace to greet the crowds with Elizabeth particularly fascinated by the scenes on the Mall.

Four decades later, Queen Elizabeth II marked her own Silver Jubilee and wore bright pink for her own Service of Thanksgiving, a subtle nod to her grandparents’ own celebrations. The outfit, by Hardy Amies, with a hat by Simone Mirman, became one of the best known from her long reign.

The Queen's Silver Jubilee Outfit
The famous pink outfit worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her Silver Jubilee
(Photo by Royal Collection Trust)

In 2022, it was pink that once more dominated in the royal party marking her Platinum Jubilee. We’ll never know whether Her Late Majesty herself planned to wear the shade as she decided ”with reluctance” to miss the Service of Thanksgiving having suffered ”some discomfort” during the first part of her Jubilee celebrations, Trooping the Colour.

However, her family were definitely in the pink as they took part in a joyous celebration which included an already famous sermon from the Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, who compared Queen Elizabeth II’s long reign to ”the distance of Aintree” before saying how glad everyone was that she was ”still in the saddle”.

Among those wearing pink at St. Paul’s were two of The Queen’s granddaughters. Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor chose a long dress in palest blush for the event with a deep rose headband style hat. Zara Tindall, who laughed at many of the horse racing analogies in the Archbishop’s sermon, wore bright fuchsia pink with a purple hat.

The Duchess of Edinburgh and her daughter, Lady Louise Mountbatten-Windsor, in pink at the Platinum Jubilee
(Stephen Lock/ i-Images)

The Duchess of Edinburgh chose a sparkling pale pink dress with tiered sleeves and a hat in a matching shade, adored with fabric flowers.

Lady Frederick Windsor chose bright pink for the service, with a matching hat, while Lady Sarah Chatto wore a two piece outfit in palest pink.

The proliferation of pink was notable and may well have been a nod to the role the shade played in past celebrations. Intentional or not, it was a link to a moment of royal history that united the current House of Windsor with the king who created it and The Queen who transformed it.

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About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.