16 April 2013

Royal Splendor 101: Enthronement Outfits

As we look ahead to adding a new member to the list of currently reigning monarchs, let's have a look back at the enthronements/inaugurations/coronations/whatever that marked the entrances of those already on the list - with a particular emphasis on what they wore, naturally. Of course, there are often more events than just the one or two you'll see here. There are more monarchies, too, and we'll stick to Europe today.

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth Realms
This is the only event with an actual crowning in today's list (in the others you'll see here, items of regalia such as crowns are either not involved or are on display only, and even mantles or robes are scarcely used). This is certainly the most elaborate here and the most famous for it - it took over a year to plan and occurred in 1953. The Queen, who took the throne at the age of 25 following the death of her father King George VI, wore a heavily symbolic gown from Norman Hartnell and her best jewels. We've covered this all in depth in the past, click here to see the coronation posts; click here to see more on the Queen's accession.

Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
The Danish process seems incredibly stark and sad in comparison to the festival of a British coronation. Queen Margrethe II was proclaimed queen on the balcony of Christiansborg Palace at the age of 31 just after the death of her father, King Frederik IX. Since the process happens so soon after the previous monarch's passing, there's not always time to prepare; Margrethe had to borrow a black dress from her mother, Queen Ingrid, to wear with a blouse of her own and a veil. Meanwhile, couturier Jørgen Bender and his team feverishly worked to prep other black outfits including matching black coats for the new queen and her mother and sisters for the funeral. For the proclamation, she also wore the riband and star of the Order of the Elephant and her brooch of her father's portrait. The brooch at her neck is a ruby and diamond horseshoe brooch given to her by her father when she was named heir to the throne (at her birth, only males could inherit the throne - the law changed after Frederik and Ingrid had three girls and no boys); she wore this same brooch during her Ruby Jubilee celebrations in 2012. Click here to see my entry on Margrethe's accession.

King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden
Carl XVI Gustaf became king at 27 years old, when his grandfather King Gustaf VI Adolf died. (Carl Gustaf's father, also named Gustaf Adolf, died in a plane crash when Carl Gustaf was just a baby.) Gustaf Adolf died on September 15th, and the new King was enthroned on September 19th. The king's magnificent ermine robe was draped on the grand silver throne but not worn; the regalia sat to the side on display. In uniform, he was adorned with two collars from orders of chivalry (the Order of Vasa and the Order of the Seraphim) plus accompanying medals and so on. An impressive outfit, if a bit loud - click here for a video from the day and listen for his clanking. He was unmarried at the time; his sisters wore traditional Swedish court mourning dress outfits. The King has a Jubilee this year, 40 years on the throne, and he and the Queen have already started their visits to each of Sweden's counties.

King Juan Carlos I of Spain
Juan Carlos is a unique member of this group: when he took the throne, it meant the restoration of the Spanish monarchy after the rule of General Franco (the young prince was chosen by Franco to be his successor). Franco died on November 20th. On the 22nd, accompanied by Queen Sofia in a long pink court dress with the sash of the Order of Charles III, the 37-year-old uniformed royal visited the Cortes Generales and was sworn in as King of Spain (click here for video of that event). They then visited the lying-in-state of Franco, for which the Queen added a black coat over her pink dress. On the 27th, they attended the Holy Spirit Mass - the enthronement mass, which served as the coronation equivalent - where the new queen made an impression her blue dress with a peineta and mantilla.

Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands
We'll have more on Dutch inaugurations later, but for now: 42-year-old Beatrix wore a long white gown from dressmaker Theresia Vreugdenhil following the abdication of her mother, Queen Juliana. Beatrix's request for the gown was that it include some sleeve interest, since the lasting photograph would be of her with her arm raised, taking her oath. She wore the Pearl Button Tiara as well as the Military William Order and her ermine robe was restored by Vreugdenhil prior to the event. Her husband Prince Claus was in white tie and the Order of the Netherlands Lion. Click here to see our entry on Beatrix's accession.

Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein

Video: the proclamation of Hans-Adam II
Prince Hans-Adam II formally became Liechtenstein's head of state at the age of 44 in 1989 when his father, Franz Joseph II, died. But in fact he'd been ruling in all but title since 1984, when Franz Joseph passed on his powers. Hans-Adam's proclamation celebrations were held on National Day in August 1990. Sartorially, the ceremony itself seems quite casual in comparison to some of the others seen here: the Prince wears a business suit, his wife Marie Aglaë wears a floral dress. Hans-Adam has now followed in his father's footsteps and passed his powers on to his son, Alois, while still remaining head of state.

King Harald V of Norway
King Harald came to the throne at the age of 53 following the death of his father, King Olav V. Olav died on January 17th; on the 21st, the new king and queen went to parliament and Harald took his oath. In June, a consecration ceremony was held at Nidaros Cathedral, which was the larger "coronation" event (though Norway had done away with an actual crowning decades before). The King was formally dressed in his uniform adorned with the collar of the Order of St. Olav and the sash of the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit, while Queen Sonja made an impression in her theatrical ensemble of white and gold from Norwegian designer Tine Solheim. The outfit included the St. Olav collar and her family order pinned on a flowing dress overlay, and was topped by a fabric kokoshnik in her hair. Click here to read more about Harald's accession.

King Albert II of the Belgians
Albert's brother King Baudouin died at the age of 62 on July 31st. The unexpected death of the well-loved king hit the country hard. Baudouin and his wife Queen Fabiola had no children, and many had considered Prince Philippe, Albert's son, to be the natural heir. But the line of succession was followed, and it was Baudouin's 59-year-old younger brother that was enthroned in front of parliament on August 9th. Sartorially, it was one of the simpler events on our list today, with Albert in uniform and the Order of Leopold and the new Queen Paola in a simple day outfit.

Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg
Much like the Netherlands, Luxembourg has had a tradition of abdication for a few generations now. Grand Duke Jean abdicated in favor of his 45-year-old son Henri just as his mother had abdicated for him decades earlier. There were several events celebrating the change of power, but the main show was the signing of the Abdication Decree at the palace followed by the swearing in and enthronement speech of the new Grand Duke. For this, Henri wore his military uniform and the sash of the Order of the Gold Lion of the House of Nassau; the new Grand Duchess Maria Teresa wore a long court outfit with her own sash. Their five children came dressed in their very best, with their oldest sons in morning jackets. For more on the process of abdication in Luxembourg, click here for a post from Luxarazzi.

Prince Albert II of Monaco
Prince Rainier III passed away on April 6th and the throne of his small principality passed to his son, Albert, who was 47 years old. There were ceremonies in July and at National Day in November. The November celebrations were the more formal enthronement event, including representatives from foreign royal families and Albert all uniformed up. We've talked about Albert's accession in the past, click here to see.

Pope Francis
The Pope isn't really in the group we tend to cover here, but he is considered a monarch. No real need to remember Francis' installation, though - we've just seen it!

So, we've got a bit of everything on show here: from the very fancy to the fairly simple, and mostly in between. The magpie in me requires me to hold the British version as my favorite (tiaaaarrraaas, hello) but I think the variety's kind of nice. After all, each one of these monarchies has a different history and a different culture to represent, and each tradition has developed accordingly. Plus, variety is the spice of life and all that, right?

What do you think makes a good enthronement outfit?

Photos: Royal Collection/DR/Corbis/Getty Images/Reuters