Great Britain is a nation renowned for its pomp and ceremony, coming together to put on a grand display is what we do best. Never was this more apparent than during the coronation of King Charles III. An estimated 300 million global viewers tuned in to admire not only the newly crowned King and Queen but also the 6,000 plus members of our Armed Forces resplendent in their ceremonial uniforms.
Over the past 12 months, soldiers from the British Armed Forces have performed a vital and visible role in British state ceremony during the Platinum Jubilee and State Funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth II and the coronation of King Charles III.
The uniforms worn at such events are both eye-catching and distinctive, embodying the unique pageantry that accompanies the British monarchy. These uniforms celebrate British manufacturing, and craftsmanship, each with its own history, forming the stories of those who wear them with such pride.
Every person dressing to play their role on May 6th – be it in the divisions of the Household Guard, The Navy, and Royal Air Force, the Yeoman of the Guard, or the Archbishop of Canterbury – will have felt the personal weight of responsibility to look impeccable.
The coverage of royal events such as the Coronation also hints at the presence of another, hidden army that is taking part: skilled British companies and craftspeople who design and hand-make every aspect of the vast array of uniforms, helmets, bearskins, plumes, and richly embroidered ceremonial dress. Some 8000 pieces of the uniforms needed on the day came through one London Taylors’ shop, although many were made especially for the occasion, some of the work included refitting or embroidery of the new King’s insignia.
One of the most interesting garments seen during both the coronation and the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II last year is an item of court dress that is only ever worn by the six officers of the High Office of State. The Duke of Norfolk whose job as Earl Marshal includes being responsible for organising the funerals and coronations of monarchs could be seen wearing a distinctive red frock coat. The coat which is entirely smothered in padded, 3D gold embroidered oak leaves dates back to the time of Queen Victoria, and was also worn by the current Duke’s grandfather, who held the position during the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
King Charles undertook a number of symbolic outfit changes during the coronation, featuring garments that are steeped in religious and military history. The order in which the three Coronation robes are worn on the day was established in the 14th Century, and while most are typically bespoke, the King chose to break with tradition and wear garments previously worn by his mother, grandfather, and great-grandfather. The King has always held the environment and sustainability high on his agenda and even opted to wear his own Royal Navy trousers which are usually worn as part of His Majesty’s full ceremonial tailcoat, a subtle nod to his Naval service.
Alongside the King, in varying roles were other members of the Royal Family, whose outfits were also steeped in significance and grandeur. Members of the Royal family who are granted titles and duties by the crown are permitted to wear their military uniforms during ceremonial events. The Princess Royal, The Prince of Wales, and The Duke of Edinburgh all wore the full ceremonial uniform of their respective regiments. Even the Queen’s pages made up of Queen Camilla’s grandsons and future monarch Prince George wore outfits that paid tribute to some of Her Majesty’s military affiliations.
From the full parade regalia worn on days such as the King’s Coronation to high-tech kit designed for modern conflict, there is no doubt that military uniform has undergone many changes. In modern times, most of the uniforms seen on parade during the coronation are only used for certain occasions, with soldiers wearing normal combat gear during their day-to-day duties.
Whether they are in the field of duty, or on parade for a royal occasion, the uniforms worn by servicemen and women are a vital part of what they do. From identifying them for their rank to camouflaging from enemies, day-to-day combat uniforms must be comfortable, protective, and purposeful. Ceremonial dress, to be worn on parades and for state occasions is all about looking good, beyond that the historic uniforms can evoke feelings of pride both for the people wearing them and the wider public watching them on display.
Looking and feeling good in a well-designed uniform has benefits beyond the way others perceive you. When people are confident, they are more motivated, which can lead to an increase in productivity. Although your staff may not be a part of the King’s Coronation, their uniform is still a vital part of their job, and, if done well has the power to motivate, increase happiness, productivity and deliver a positive return on investment.
If you’d like to find out more or hear about our research report “Uniform Impact on Employee Wellbeing and Productivity”, please email firstname.lastname@example.org