LONDON — When Camilla, the new Queen Consort, married the then-Prince of Wales — now King Charles III — in 2005, she wore two special outfits by London designers Antonia Robinson and Anna Valentine, who at the time operated under the name of Robinson Valentine, now solely called Anna Valentine.
The first outfit Camilla wore to the wedding ceremony at The Guildhall, Windsor, was a cream silk chiffon dress with a matching oyster silk coat and a feathers brooch borrowed from her new husband that features diamonds and a single gray pearl.
She completed the ensemble with a cream Philip Treacy hat and beige suede pumps from LK Bennett, an upmarket high-street label favored by the Queen Consort and the Duchess of Cambridge.
For the blessing at St. George’s Chapel, Camilla wore an embroidered pale blue and gold coat over a matching chiffon gown and swapped her Philip Treacy hat for a gold leaf feather headdress. She added Swarovski diamond earrings to the minimal attire and a pair of pale gray silk pumps from LK Bennett.
Images from the couple’s special day were never as widely shared as the ones of her husband with his ex-wife Diana, Princess of Wales in her taffeta wedding dress by the Emanuels.
It can be said that the whole day has gone so much under the radar in the public domain that Camilla was able to rewear her first wedding dress to the opening of the National Assembly for Wales in June 2007.
This was an action that’s quite unorthodox for a member of the British royal family, let alone a duchess who is now Queen Consort. At the same time, it’s a soft ode to Charles’ environmental activism — he’s been known to recycle his wardrobe over the decades and has led by example for his family.
It’s not that Camilla doesn’t care about fashion or her appearance, but she understands too well that she has to be seen to be believed, in that she’s taking her role within the family seriously after decades of scandal in the British tabloids for her relationship with Charles.
She’s managed to quietly rehabilitate her image and focus on the causes she cares about.
For a family whose primary way of communicating to the world is through their image, fashion has become a trusty armor to attract the good and deflect the bad when their stiff upper lip adage of “never complain, never explain” fails them.
Camilla, like other women who have entered the royal firm, has found her footing and has been adjusting to it in the last 17 years, preparing for a moment like this when she has to step up in her role alongside her husband. When all eyes are on her during this crucial period, her past is just as important as the present, especially sartorially when the U.K. is facing a recession.
The Queen Consort has never drifted from her sensible uniform of below-the-knee dresses and traditionally muted evening gowns, but once in a while she will mark the occasion with a big designer name.
Her sartorial consistency is a page out of her mother-in-law’s style book in forging a signature look that will outlive runway trends. She’s never been one to hop from brand to brand — her trusted rotation of labels includes Burberry, Dior, Roy Allen and Fiona Clare, whom she is the most fond of.
At this year’s Trooping the Colour parade, she wore a blue ribbon-effect coat and dress by Bruce Oldfield, a favorite among the royals, and especially the late Princess Diana.
“That’s the mark of a great British designer, someone who can take their own ego out of it, and just ultimately create beautiful clothes which make women feel great,” said Bethan Holt, author of “The Queen: 70 Years of Majestic Style” and “The Duchess of Cambridge: A Decade of Modern Royal Style.”
“That’s why royal women will keep going back to someone like Bruce Oldfield because he really understands how to dress them for the bodies and for the occasions that they need outfits for,” Holt said.
Unlike her royal counterparts, Camilla has never been considered to be in fashion and she’s never tried to assume that role either.
Earlier this year, she guest edited Country Life’s 125th anniversary issue, and appeared on the cover to mark her 75th birthday with portraits by the Duchess of Cambridge.
It was also the year that marked her British Vogue debut in the July issue, where she opened up about her life in the limelight and dealing with public scrutiny.
The indications are all there that she’s ready to come out of her own shadow and into the limelight beside her husband, King Charles.