Issue 46 Souvenir
WITH THE ROYAL WEDDING LAST YEAR and the Diamond Jubilee in progress, monarchy is having a moment in the sun. And whether you’ll be watching the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant, hosting a street party or just taking advantage of the bank holiday and heading out of town, there’s no denying most of us welcome a reason to celebrate.
The coronation brought together the skills of designers, weavers, embroiderers and many others to create a spectacle that would be seen by more people than any previous royal pageant. As a result of television Elizabeth II was the first British Sovereign to be truly crowned “in the sight of the people”. Clare Lewis looks at the work of individual craftspeople during the preparations for the Coronation. Commissions are the lifeblood of the craft economy: events such as royal weddings and coronations provide opportunities for traditional skills to be showcased in their full glory. And though such occasions are in short supply, the infrastructure of our monarchy – the upkeep and repair of stately homes – is an important factor in creating the demand for traditional crafts. Weaver Felicity Irons, recently completed rush matting for the long gallery of Elizabethan mansion Hardwick Hall.
At the start of the five months of Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Queen Elizabeth II renewed her vow to serve, saying that she wanted to “Dedicate myself anew to your service”. For six decades poise and understated elegance have been the cornerstones of her reign. Much of her public persona was initially fashioned by two men, photographer Cecil Beaton, and designer Norman Hartnell. The latter was responsible for both her wedding and her coronation dress. Other elements of her image, such as her ubiquitous handbag, are more likely to have been her own invention. The contents of her bag though the subject of much speculation, remains a secret so Amy de la Haye sheds light of other historical handbags, and looks at them from a psychological point of view.
Queen Elizabeth II is the most travelled monarch in history with 256 official overseas visits – no doubt her luggage is impeccably packed. We’re not sure if Neil McAllister lines his suitcase with tissue but this issue he journeys to Pakistan, (the Queen visited in 1961) and discovers wonderful textiles. You’ll have to travel quite far to escape the Jubilee celebrations which are taking place worldwide. If you’ve decided to join in why not make your own souvenir like our pick of this year’s Graduating Students.
Polly Leonard, Founder