Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip at Trooping the Colour (2016)

Queen Elizabeth II is not one to stock her wardrobe with endless variations of taupe and beige. “I must be seen to be believed,” she famously said. As the sovereign of 16 realms and the most photographed woman in the world could ever vanish into a crowd.

Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe

Ever since childhood, she’s worn bright, clear colours. In 2012, U.K. Vogue created the ultimate regal fashion graphic by putting a year’s outfits into a colour spectrum. The result was a rainbow until any other. And a fascinating insight into her style, including her colour preferences (and dislike of beige).

  • 29 percent of her outfits were blue
  • 13 percent floral
  • 11 percent green
  • 11 percent white or cream
  • 10 percent purple
  • 10 percent pink
  • 4 percent red
  • 4 percent yellow
  • 4 percent orange
  • 2 percent black
  • 1 percent checked
  • 1 percent beige

That same year—which marked the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee for 60 years on the throne—Pantone, the global authority on colour, teamed up with ad firm Leo Burnett, to create a “bespoke, limited-edition, numbered colour guide is designed to capture and commemorate some of the Queen’s most memorable colour choices since her coronation.”

“The Queen’s decision to favour one colour in every outfit is a strong style statement,” explained Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Colour Institute. “Monochromatic colour schemes make the wearer appear taller, delivering a more stately air–perfect given that Queen Elizabeth is not tall at 5’4’’. Choosing one colour theme also ensures the outfit does not detract attention from the wearer–which is particularly important if you’re the Queen.”

An example of Queen Elizabeth’s colour choices

Pantone 13-0755 (Primrose Yellow): The Queen’s outfit for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011 was primrose yellow. As Eiseman noted, “Yellow is a colour that speaks to the future with hope and optimism. William’s wedding was a time of national celebration and this choice of yellow complements the joyous mood of the occasion. It’s a colour that is high visibility (befitting a queen), while still not detracting from the bride.’

A regal highlighter

Perhaps the brightest colour Queen Elizabeth ever wore was at the 2016 Trooping the Colour military ceremony in London. Her fluorescent green coat and hat were so vibrant that many compared the shade to that of a Sharpie highlighter. Anyone else in that outfit would win a spot on a worst dressed list. But such is the ability of Queen Elizabeth to carry off such virulent shades that she got away with it.