Elizabeth II has a sharp understanding of what makes her nation tick. And as she allowed her weekly audience with the Prime Minister to be photographed for the first time, she revealed she has a lot in common with most of the British population right now. For as the Queen worked from home, she did it in a cardigan.
For this historic phone call, Her Majesty went for the casual option. Admittedly she chose a matching blouse and tartan skirt to complete the outfit, rather than the joggers or pyjama bottoms that many of us have already worked into our home office wardrobe, but this was Elizabeth II on dress down duty.
I like her all the more for it. OK, if she does end up doing one of these phone audiences in a full evening gown and tiara just to bring the sparkle back to our lives then I’ll be there for it completely. But right now, as we all come to terms with the shock and change that coronavirus has brought to our world, this was a Monarch on message.
Everything calm, everything just carrying on – it’s what Elizabeth II, like her parents before her, has turned into a royal art all of its own. This image of the Queen in a room in (a rather retro) Windsor Castle chatting on the phone to her Prime Minister, had a sense of serenity that is much needed right now. You wouldn’t guess that this is a woman whose own first born child has just found out he has Covid-19. The Queen knows she is the public face of a nation and right now that face is calm. And casual.
Yes, there is a slick of bright red lipstick (again, bonus points from me as well as quite a lot of resentment that she can get away with a shade that’s defeated many of us) but the never changing hairstyle, the hint of a smile and that cardigan make this a reassuring image. It might be a different way of carrying on a regular duty in the Queen’s working week but the message is clear: it’s business as usual. Dress down style.