The rainbow princess: Kate Middleton’s stylish – and very colourful – tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth’s vibrant fashion sense


Queen Elizabeth II is fondly remembered for her unceasing sense of duty, unwavering Christian faith and ability to unite people.

The late Queen, who would have turned 98 tomorrow, was also loved for her vibrant and authoritative sense of style – through her use of colour, in particular.

‘If I wore beige, nobody would know who I am,’ she once noted.

Today, we can see that the Princess of Wales has been following in Queen Elizabeth’s sartorial footsteps, showing off a diverse range of shades.

The Princess of Wales during the Ladies' Singles Finals at Wimbledon on July 9, 2022

Queen Elizabeth and the Princess of Wales have both worn buttercup yellow outfits  

Queen Elizabeth II arrives at King's Lynn station during a royal visit to Sandringham on December 20, 2019

The Princess of Wales leaves after hosting a roundtable to mark the release of new research from the Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood on June 16, 2022

In 2019, Queen Elizabeth showcased a candyfloss pink coat with Kate later interpreting the colour in 2022 

Elizabeth’s outfits were carefully considered to ensure she stood out in a crowd of well-wishers – despite her modest height of 5ft 3in.

During the initial years of her reign, Her Majesty was famed for her opulent gowns, primarily designed by Sir Norman Hartnell.

But it was her decision to wear a kaleidoscope of rainbow colours that defined Elizabeth’s image as a modern-day monarch.

Candy floss pink, buttercup yellow, letterbox red, rich violet, lime green; there wasn’t a hue that the Queen didn’t wear. 

However, she rarely deviated from a tailored dress and matching coat that fell to the shin.

Queen Elizabeth II attends the Royal Windsor Cup polo match at Guards Polo Club on July 11, 2021

The Princess of Wales visits Sybil Strachan Primary School in Nassau, Bahamas on March 25, 2022

The stylish royal duo wore charming lime green outfits two years apart

Queen Elizabeth II attends QIPCO British Champions Day at Ascot Racecourse on October 16, 2021

The Princess of Wales attends the annual Commonwealth Service on Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey on March 14, 2022

Queen Elizabeth and the Princess of Wales have both favoured cobalt blue

Kate Middleton often selects a colour that Elizabeth wore and cleverly presents it in an updated silhouette.

Kate has reimagined Elizabeth’s coats as two-piece suits on a number of occasions. 

In 2022, she picked a pink Alexander McQueen suit for a business meeting in London. Queen Elizabeth previously wore the charming shade on a visit to Sandringham in 2019. 

Attending an event at the Design Museum last year, the Princess showcased a striking plum-coloured suit by Emilia Wickstead.

Three years earlier, Elizabeth II had worn the same colour in the form of a mid-length coat and matching hat, when she opened the Royal National ENT and Eastman Hospitals in London. 

Queen Elizabeth II during a walkabout after attending Sunday service at the Church of St Peter & St Paul, West Newton on February 7, 2016

The Princess of Wales attends a ceremonial welcome, at Horse Guards Parade, for the President and the First Lady of the Republic of Korea on day 1 of their state visit on November 21, 2023

As shown by these images, Elizabeth and Kate both suit letterbox red 

Queen Elizabeth II opens the Royal National ENT and Eastman Hospitals in London on February 19, 2020

The Princess of Wales arrives at the Shaping Us National Symposium at the Design Museum on November 15, 2023

Kate followed in Queen Elizabeth’s footsteps by wearing this bold purple hue 

Queen Elizabeth II during a walkabout in Iceland on June 25, 1990

The  Princess of Wales presenting Carlos Alcaraz with the Wimbledon gentlemen's singles trophy on July 16, 2023

Both royals looked ravishing in bright green (pictured in 1990 and 2023) 

In 2012, the year of Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee, Vogue published a colour review of her outfits from the past 12 months.

The magazine discovered that 29 per cent of dresses, suits and hats were created in shades of blue, ranging from icy hues to rich cobalt. 

Additionally, the publication found that beige was the Queen’s least-worn colour, accounting for just one per cent of the total.

Her inspirational wardrobe, which lifted the nation, won the acclaim of the press – just as Kate’s stylish aesthetic has gained prominence today.

A standout piece is the Princess’ Catherine Walker cobalt coat, which she has worn on three occasions.

Appearing to take cues from the coat Elizabeth donned at Royal Ascot in 2021, Kate’s attire also showcased a contrasting collar, refined silhouette and mid-length design. 

Queen Elizabeth II attends The Ceremony of the Keys on the forecourt of the Palace of Holyroodhouse on June 27, 2022

The Princess of Wales and Princess Charlotte attend the Easter Sunday church service at St Georges Chapel in the grounds of Windsor Castle on April 17, 2022

Pale blue was a welcome choice for Queen Elizabeth in 2022 and Kate wore the same shade that year 

Queen Elizabeth II attends the 2018 Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey on March 12, 2018

The Princess of Wales attends a service to commemorate the life of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at St Davids Cathedral in Wales on September 8, 2023

An oxblood hue appeared equally fitting for the Queen in 2018 and Kate in 2023

Angela Kelly, who served as the Queen’s dresser from 1993 to 2022, detailed the meticulous considerations involved in designing Her Majesty’s attire in her book, The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe 

‘In general, necklines on coats and jackets must not be too high or too low, and must not restrict the queen’s movement,’ Ms Kelly explained.

Hemlines were reinforced with sewn-in weights in anticipation of strong winds, and heavily embellished dresses incorporated additional lining for enhanced comfort. 

Meanwhile, fabrics were selected to suit both the occasion and the climate, with a crucial requirement being that they remained resistant to wrinkling. 

The Princess of Wales is another considered dresser.

She mirrors Elizabeth’s successful style formula through her choice of vibrant block colours. 

Kate seamlessly combines high street brands with designers, often repurposing her favourite ensembles.

Queen Elizabeth II attends a traditional Christmas Day church service at Sandringham on December 25, 2015

The Princess of Wales visits the Dog & Duck Pub in Soho on May 4, 2023

Elizabeth looked particularly festive on Christmas Day 2015. Kate emulated her vibrant style in 2023

Queen Elizabeth II attends the Dubai Duty Free Spring Trials horse racing meet at Newbury Racecourse on April 13, 2019

The Princess of Wales attends the Royal Variety Performance at Royal Albert Hall on November 18, 2021

The royals have chosen emerald green for special occasions, such as the Royal Variety Performance 

Similarly to how Elizabeth exchanged accessories with Princess Margaret, Kate also shares clothing with her sister Pippa.

For example, Kate wore a Katherine Hooker coat to the RNLI lifeboat in Anglesey in 2011, which Pippa later donned at a wedding.

Kate is celebrated for recycling her most-loved outfits, whether for significant events or social gatherings.

Additionally, the royal has supported several sustainable brands, including Beulah, Raey, Sézane, Stella McCartney and Faithfull the Brand.

Likewise, the Queen was keen for outfits to be altered after two or three public appearances so that she could re-wear them.

A stockroom on the Dressers’ Floor at Buckingham Palace housed rolls of material for potential reuse. 

‘Her Majesty is always thrifty and likes her clothes to be adapted and recycled as much as possible,’ wrote Ms Kelly. 

‘Typically, the lifespan of an outfit can be up to around 25 years.’ 

Queen Elizabeth II walks to the paddock to see her horse Ring of Truth at Newbury Racecourse on April 17, 2015

The Princess of Wales during the State Visit of the President of the Republic of South Africa in London on November 22, 2022

Neither Elizabeth nor Kate could be missed in this rich plum hue 

Queen Elizabeth II attends the launch of the Queen's Baton Relay for Birmingham 2022, the XXII Commonwealth Games at Buckingham Palace on October 7, 2021

The Princess of Wales during her visit to Foxcubs Nursery in Luton on January 18, 2023

Both royal women have showcased eye-catching orange outfits

The Queen’s dresser emphasised the consideration given to factors such as her visible angle and choice of jewellery. 

Elizabeth’s wardrobe was anchored by several staples, including a Launer bag, gloves, Anello & Davide loafers and an assortment of heirloom brooches.

She owned Fulton ‘Birdcage’ umbrellas to match each outfit in case of wet weather, with the edging and handle corresponding to the exact shade of her clothing. 

While Kate may not need to wear a cheerful colour palette to highlight her figure, both she and the Queen possess the knack for radiating brightness wherever they go. 

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