Jubilee Style Icon: Prince Charles

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The Queen and Prince Charles

When it comes to popularity, Queen Elizabeth II – who has now been on the throne for more than 60 years – takes some beating. As much as small factions of republicans would like to persuade us that the monarchy is outdated and unwanted, the vast majority (well over 80%) of Her Majesty’s nation approve of her reign. No billion-dollar presidencies seem to be wanted here; no anonymous, small-living head of state. This is not a land people want lorded over by government any more than a land people want lorded over by a tyrant.

The Queen has little power; and that’s a good thing, as far as the people are concerned. What she has is grace of leadership and representation. She has no one to please, no sponsor or democratic lifeline and no political alliance; she speaks for everyone and no one at once.

However, there are concerns that Prince Charles, currently Prince of Wales and the next in line to the throne, will plunge the Windsors back into the dark days of the 1980s and 1990s, when their popularity was at a low. Unlike his quiet, reserved and conspicuously unbiased mother, Charles has been known to let the people know what he thinks about things. In this way, Charles has been decidedly unfashionable.

Politicians over the last 15-20 years have made a precise art out of erasing conviction from their public communication and have followed, more or less, on a path of inclusive neutrality. Not following fashion is Charles’ way. Charles’ approach is all about personal conviction and, especially where his wardrobe is concerned, personal style.

As the standards of dress have crumbled throughout the years, Charles has remained defiant. He refers to his sense of style as ‘timeless’, emphasising his continued use of 20-30 year old suits and repaired shoes. But for those who “don’t get” why Charles is consistently voted by fashionistas and editors alike as one of the world’s best dressed men, you only need to take a look at the photographs from the Jubilee ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral and compare the confident and supremely elegant image of Charles to that of his smartly dressed but significantly outshone sons, Princes William and Harry.

Wearing a long-owned black tailcoat and matching waistcoat (he wore the tailcoat at his marriage to Camilla), Charles is one of the best adverts for Savile Row in the world. Here he is, a future King, in a decades-old number that still looks like it was made yesterday.

However, it is more than the simple perfection of good tailoring. Charles knows how to finish ensembles – probably one of the most criminally under-mentioned observations about his style. There is piping around the tailcoat; there is a pocket watch and chain; there is a tie-pin; there are slips for the waistcoat; there is the most subtle and attractive puff of patterned silk in the pocket and, finally, there is a bright purple buttonhole brightening up the lapel. There are a great many elements, but they all work together beautifully. Charles knows exactly what to do; and he is not afraid to do it.


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Winston Chesterfield is an amateur composer, fashion blogger, trained lawyer and style aficionado. He lives in Westminster, London and blogs at www.levraiwinston.com.

Comments

  1. Niel says:

    Prince William dresses perfectly well but doesn’t have style. His father does.

  2. Deborah care says:

    As I recently wrote on the Gieves & Hawkes blog this s the 80:20 rule in action. HRH Prince Charles understands the impact of god accessories and follows the 80:20 rule. It is the 20% – the smallest details/ his accessories – which have the biggest impact. He epitomises a stylish gentleman and knows and follows the codes of dress for a gentleman! He rocks!

  3. Michael says:

    I couldn’t agree more Winston. I have always thought he has style and admired his refusal to lower his standards. A good article.

  4. John says:

    According to this recent poll, fewer than seven in ten Britons believe the monarchy is good for the country, and 22 percent support abolishing the institution: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/05/26/Poll-Support-for-British-monarchy-up/UPI-87041338012525/#ixzz1xqgMInQK

    Even if your figures are correct, Republicans are not a trivial minority or a small ‘faction’. Do you seriously think the only alternatives to the current system are ‘billion dollar presidencies’ or an ‘anonymous, small-living head of state’?

    But this Republican agrees that Charles is one of the best dressed celebrities, if not the best dressed celebrity.

  5. Laurence says:

    Celebrity?
    I’m not even British, but that’s a bit of an insult to the man.

  6. Flashman says:

    PC has always been a personal fashion inspiration and remains the best example of style and subtlety, elegance with elequence and happy to marry all that with frugality.

  7. John says:

    Laurence,
    From dictionary.com:
    ce·leb·ri·ty
    noun, plural ce·leb·ri·ties for 1.
    1. a famous or well-known person.
    2. fame; renown.

  8. Andie Shelton says:

    Winston,

    Are you able to figure out what kind of fabric he used in making the tailcoat, It looks wonderful.