Mistress of the Robes Gown
The Mistress of the Robes is a senior position in the Royal Household. Traditionally, women in this position were responsible for the Queen’s clothing and jewellery and also supervised other ladies-in-waiting.
The Mistress of the Robes gown was worn by Duchess Evelyn for King George VI’s 1937 coronation. It was worn again by Duchess Mary for the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.
Duchess Evelyn was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Mary for thirty-eight years, from 1910-1916 and again from 1921 until Mary’s death in 1953. Duchess Mary was Mistress of the Robes to Queen Elizabeth from 1953 to 1967.
The red silk velvet gown is decorated with gold, and trimmed with white ermine fur.
Peeress Robe (c.1732-1789)
Peer and peeress robes are ceremonial garments and have been worn for occasions such as coronations since the fourteenth century. All peer and peeress robes are made of crimson silk velvet and ivory lace with white fur trim.
The Peeress Robe was worn by Duchess Deborah for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.
The gown is likely to have been made for the 6th Duke of Devonshire's sister, Lady Georgiana Cavendish, to wear to William IV's Coronation in 1831. Packed away securely after its use, it was rediscovered by Duchess Deborah in a tissue-lined tin box whilst seeking an outfit for Elizabeth II’s coronation.
As Duchess Deborah wrote in her memoirs, ‘lo and behold, from beneath a ton of tissue paper in the box […], appeared a second crimson peeress's robe. The velvet is of exceptional quality, so soft your fingers hardly know they are touching it, and of such pure, brilliant crimson as to make you blink.’
This peeress robe is comprised of three separate parts, the bodice, skirt, and train, and differs from other peeress robes as it is cut off the shoulder, meaning Duchess Deborah had to gain direct permission from Elizabeth II to wear this unique style.
Duke and Duchess Coronets
Coronets are worn by peers for the coronation ceremony.
The Ducal coronet is formed of a silver gilt band, decorated with eight strawberry leaves, set on top of a silver-gilt base modelled to appear as though it were set with jewels. The band fits around a red velvet cap, the base of which is sewn with white and black fur known as ermine. The cap is finished with a tassel made using fine gold wire and has a cream silk lining.
Duchesses’ coronets are smaller than those of Duke’s, this smaller size allows them to be placed on top of the head during the coronation rite whilst the Duchess is already wearing her tiara. The coronet can be lifted away from the head without disarranging the wearer’s hair or jewels.
The coronation robes will be on display in the Great Dining Room from 29 April until 7 June and can be viewed with all house entry tickets.