Friday, 29 March 2013

Riffling the Queen's knicker drawer

... well not our current monarch, but yesterday I did get to look at Queen Victoria's underwear during a special research visit. The lovely curators of the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection at Historic Royal Palaces kindly agreed to let me look at some items in their collections, picking out some pieces with monograms and laundry marks.

Hampton Court Palace
Queen Victoria's split drawers, dated circa 1900, were made of fine linen and marked on the waistband with an exquisite, self-coloured, embroidered monogram and crown. The style of embroidery was much more elaborate than the marking on the Prince's Shirt and was also slightly larger. In short a completely different style of marking although it would have served the same purpose because it also had an number for laundry. You can see images here.

Queen Alexandra's nightdress had an almost identical style of monogram to Victoria's, this time below the front opening. Being from a similar date, it would seem this was a universal style for marking items in the royal household of this period.

Going back to 1810 (around the period of the Prince's Shirt) George III's white linen shirt was fascinating to see. The shirt was of a similar style to the Prince's Shirt, with a high standing collar and ruffled front opening, however it was less exuberant; the collar was shorter, the ruffle narrower, containing less fabric and the cuffs very short. The fabric of George's shirt was a fine linen but certainly nowhere near as fine as the Prince's Shirt, and there was no decorative embroidery around buttonholes. This completely took me by surprise as I had expected it would be comparable in quality. It would seem our Prince 'AF' had exceptionally fine taste indeed!

What was really wonderful to see was that the style of laundry marking was rather like to ours. On the right above the side vent was a tiny red cross stitch crown, the initials GR and the date 1810. The George IV shirt exhibited at Dress for Excess at Brighton Pavilion had a similar laundry mark.

Although there is no, one individual proof everything seems to point to The Prince's Shirt being exactly what it looks like. Fantastic news!

1 comment:

  1. I mistakenly mentioned a shirt of George IV's - this was incorrect. The shirt actually belonged to George III.