This gives new meaning to spilling the tea! Details about the royal baby christening gown have been revealed by the Queen’s dressmaker, and the fabric’s perfect vintage tint came courtesy of a favorite Brit beverage. But the fact that the gown was dyed using tea isn’t the only interesting thing about its construction.
Prince George, Princess Charlotte, Prince Louis, and several other royal tots have worn this particular christening gown. It was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth since the original Victorian garment commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1841 is too fragile (that one was worn by 62 members of the royal family). Given the weight of this legacy, it makes sense that heightened care and attention would have gone into the recreation — and, oh, did it. In her book, The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, The Dresser and the Wardrobe, dressmaker Angela Kelly reveals just how painstaking the process was.
“To make sure it looked authentic, we dyed it in Yorkshire tea (the strongest, as we all know). We placed each piece of lace in a small bowl, from the Dressers’ Kitchen, filled with cool water and a tea bag, and left it for about five minutes, checking regularly until the colour was perfect,” Kelly writes of the 2004 project, which took 9 months to complete. That had to take a lot of teabags, no?
Just getting the lace for the gown was a task in and of itself. As Kelly explains in the book, she and dressmaker Barbara Buckfield traveled to Italy to source the lace, carrying the gown in a large handbag to bring back to the U.K. for the tedious tea-dying process.
At that point, the royal matriarch played an active role in overseeing the outcome. “At each stage of the process, I would show our progress to the Queen: first the bodice, then the sleeves attached to it, then the skirt with the underlayers on, and finally the completed robe,” Kelly says. “Her Majesty was very interested to see how it was developing.”
Clearly, the Queen (and Kelly, of course) has a keen eye, because the royal christening gown is the picture of tea-dyed perfection.