The British royal family are out in force this week to celebrate the annual horse racing festival of Royal Ascot.
Led by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, senior members of the Windsor clan including the Duchess of Cambridge, Princess Beatrice, and Princess Eugenie all wore varying shades of full blue outfits (on at least one occasion) to the iconic racing event.
Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall also paid homage to the theme with a powder blue fascinator, while Prince Edward’s wife Sophie, Countess of Wessex stepped out in a navy wide leg jumpsuit.
But while blue is said to 'run in the blood' of royalty, it seems there is a much more sentimental reason these high-ranking ladies opted for periwinkle, cerulean, and teal this week. Blue is said to be Queen Elizabeth’s favourite colour, with a Vogue Magazine study from 2012 confirming that Britain’s longest reigning monarch wore some shade of blue three times more than any other colour that year.
The analysis revealed that 29 percent of hats, dresses, and suits worn by Her Majesty were variations of blue, ranging from icy and sky blue to cobalt and midnight. The research also found beige and checked fabric to be the Queen’s least preferred styles.
Interestingly, Queen Elizabeth chose her beloved blue to meet with the late Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg on two historic occasions. In November 1976, Her Majesty donned a turquoise boat neck evening gown for a gala dinner with Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine during her and Prince Philip’s state visit to Luxembourg.
© Collections de la Cour grand-ducale
It was the first official trip to the Grand Duchy of any British monarch. Eight years later, the Queen wore a powder blue coat and matching hat to the 1984 D-Day commemorations in France, which she watched alongside Grand Duke Jean, King Olav of Norway, King Baudouin of Belgium, and President Mitterand of France.
Grand Duke Jean enjoyed a special relationship with the British royal family, with Queen Elizabeth making Jean a Stranger Knight of the Order of the Garter, the oldest and highest order of chivalry in the UK. At the time of his death in April 2019, Grand Duke Jean was the most senior Stranger Knight in the world.
Queen Elizabeth demonstrated her close connection to the much-loved Grand Duke after his passing by sending a heartfelt letter to his son, Luxembourg’s current Grand Duke Henri. The British monarch revealed she was "very fond" of the Grand Duke and said he will be "greatly missed" inside and outside Luxembourg:
"I was tremendously saddened to learn of the death of your father Grand Duke Jean who served your country so well and for so many years," the letter, which was posted to the Grand Ducal Twitter account, began.
"I have very fond memories of your father, including from the time he spent in the United Kingdom during the Second World War.
"As you know, wishing to contribute to the liberation of his country, he volunteered for the British Army, serving with distinction in the Irish Guards of which he was later to become the Colonel of the Regiment."
"Your father will be greatly missed, both inside and outside Luxembourg. Prince Philip and I offer Your Royal Highness and the people of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg our most profound condolences."