Royal Baby Robe at Kensington Palace
Until 15 May 2015
A unique and beautiful fine silk satin baby robe, worn by George, Prince of Wales (later Prince Regent, then King George IV), has been put on display at Kensington Palace to celebrate the birth of Princess Charlotte Elizabeth Diana, the second child of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
The delicate hand-stitched gown has never before been put on public display. Part of the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection and dating back to 1762, the baby robe has a construction very similar to fashionable ladies’ gowns of the period. The bodice is fitted and the wide skirt is trimmed with trails of matching ivory pleated silk and decorative silk satin bows. During the mid-eighteenth century, fashionable ladies’ gowns featured a separate petticoat, visible through the front centre split of the skirt. Here, a ‘petticoat’ is constructed in one with the garment, creating an illusion of the open robe-petticoat arrangement that fashionable women wore.
Like all clothes worn at the eighteenth-century court, the robe was a visual statement of the baby’s importance and privileged position. It is similar in style to high-status christening gowns of the mid-eighteenth century, when the length and fineness of the garment were a strong indication of a family’s wealth.
It is not known exactly when the baby George, Prince of Wales wore it. Whatever the occasion, it was certainly an important event, when the royal parents were keen to ensure the baby was magnificently presented and the centre of attention. The baby George, Prince of Wales was dressed in an even more elaborate gown for his christening in September 1762. It was a richly embroidered satin robe and he was carried on a white satin pillow bordered with gold and spangled flowers.
The royal tradition of dressing babies in beautiful and high quality clothing has continued throughout history. Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) wore fine lace and silk velvet. Her eldest son Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, wore crimson silk velvet booties embroidered with silver Prince of Wales feathers and subsequent generations of the royal family wore equally luxurious garments befitting their status.
Notes to Editors
Images available on request. Please contact Katrina Harper on (0) +4420 3166 6307 / 07770 811295 or Katrina.email@example.com
Please note this is a single temporary special display and not part of a wider exhibition. Included in standard palace admission prices –£17.50 for adults, concessions and discounted online booking rates available. KIDS GO FREE. Visit hrp.org.uk or call 0844 482 7799. Annual membership (unlimited entry to six palaces) starts from £37.
Kensington Palace has been home to some of the country’s most charismatic and best-known royals, including George II, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret and Diana, Princess of Wales. Originally built in 1605 as a private country house, it was purchased in 1689 by King William III and Queen Mary II, eager to escape from the damp and smoke of Whitehall. They immediately ordered major improvements to the Jacobean mansion to make it fit for royal residence. The palace includes contributions from some of the most renowned architects of the past three centuries, including Sir Christopher Wren, Nicholas Hawksmoor, Sir John Vanbrugh, John Nash, Colin Campbell and William Kent.
Through its 12,000 items, the Royal Ceremonial Dress Collection tells the story of British monarchy. It falls into three parts: clothes worn by members of the royal family from the 17th century to today, uniforms worn by people performing official roles in British court ritual, and fashionable dress worn by the people who attended court functions at the royal palaces from c.1700-1958.
The collection includes the UKs most extensive grouping of men’s court uniform, the best British collection of court mantuas (enormous dresses which were the ‘uniform’ of the Georgian court), and the intimate and sometimes very touching items worn by some of Britain’s most charismatic royals: George III, George IV, Queen Victoria, Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II and Diana, Princess of Wales. It was announced in September 2009 that the collection had been Designated as a pre-eminent collection of national and international importance by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA).
Historic Royal Palaces is the charity that looks after: Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Banqueting House, Kensington Palace, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. We help everyone explore the story of how monarchs and people have shaped society, in some of the greatest palaces ever built. We raise all our own funds and depend on the support of our visitors, members, donors, sponsors and volunteers. We believe in four principles. Guardianship: giving these palaces a future as long and valuable as their past. Discovery: encouraging people to make links with their own lives and today’s world. Showmanship: doing everything with panache. Independence: having our own point of view and finding new ways to do our work. Registered charity number 1068852. www.hrp.org.uk