Whenever there’s a major royal event like a wedding, a Jubilee, or a Royal Ascot, onlookers expect to see the royals and their peers dressed to the nines, giving those who study sartorial trends of the upper crust new fodder to dissect for months to come. With King Charles III’s coronation fast approaching, many have already started to speculate about the fashion involved, from which Crown Jewels might be trotted out to which classic British designers will be shown love by attendees. Charles, however, in his eagerness to prove that he will be leading a different, more modern kind of monarchy, has reportedly issued an invitation to wear “business attire” to his big day—which would make for a very different kind of a fashion scene from the one expected.
WWD reports guests at Charles’s coronation have been invited to either wear plain parliamentary robes or “business attire” instead of traditional coronation robes that members of the House of the Lords would wear in the past to such occasions. The practice of these attendees wearing coronets has also been struck from this year’s event.
“The message King Charles will want to send out is a very contemporary one, not one of an imperial ruling family, as it was many years ago,” Stephen Jones, a hatmaker for the coronation explained to WWD. “He, more than anybody else, is aware of trying to make the monarchy modern—it’s something he’s been doing his entire life.”
“People will want to keep it modern, and elegantly simple—but it’s not a fashion show,” Jones added. “They’re aware it’s a historic moment, and they’ll be asking themselves ‘How does it look now?’ ‘How will it look in 10 years’ time, or in 100 years’ time?'”
Royal author Hugo Vickers added Charles is being mindful to not have a grand display of excess at a moment “when people are having a problem paying their bills,” and that he instead “wants the coronation to be a more modest affair.”
For his own attire, Charles will wear his naval uniform, while Queen Camilla is planning to wear a dress designed by former Princess Diana designer Bruce Oldfield, as well as a crown made for Queen Mary and reset with Cullinan III, IV, and V diamonds from Queen Elizabeth II’s collection. Kate Middleton, Princess of Wales, has not yet announced her choice of attire, but royal author Bethan Holt speculates that she’ll work with Sarah Burton, a designer for Alexander McQueen who created Catherine’s wedding dress back in 2011.
All in all, it will be quite a different scene from the royal family’s last coronation in 1953 and will certainly set the stage for the tenor of Charles’s reign. Hopefully, there’s still room for inspiring style statements within his pared-down monarchy.