“He left all the pageantry and splendor to his son, the Prince of Wales, the future George II, who ruled a sort of rival court at Leicester House,” Reynolds explains. Always richly dressed, he was nicknamed “the elegant George” by a courtier.
In addition to fashion, he was “also almost obsessively interested in uniforms, insignia and rank protocols. He always wore the Order of the Garter for example,” Reynolds explains. The last monarch to lead his troops into battle and proud of his image as a soldier king, George II was also responsible for the introduction of uniforms for the army and navy.
He wears it well
The pendulum swung again with George III who, it was said, dressed so modestly that he could blend in with the crowds unnoticed. Although Reynolds thinks that might be a bit of a stretch, she thinks the stories are part of that characterization of him as a very down-to-earth king who, in prints from the time, was depicted as Farmer George .
George III was “very frugal”, says Reynolds, and “not at all interested in his appearance”. Although she notes that he “understood the need to dress for the role whenever necessary, so he wears the coronation robes with great swagger in Ramsay’s portrayal”.
“He was always more comfortable in office uniforms,” she says. So much so that he designed his own Windsor uniform, influenced by the European trend of civilian uniforms which had been introduced by Louis XIV as a means of indicating a close connection to the monarch. Consisting of a dark blue coat with a red collar and cuffs and pale breeches, “it was his favorite style of dress for the last 30 years of his life,” says Reynolds.
Initially worn only by members of the royal family, it was gradually adopted by senior officials of the royal household and by the aristocracy. “It became a demonstration of a close relationship with the King but also a public show of support for him during his difficult times, including when he was ill. At a service of thanksgiving to celebrate his back to health, many were in uniform,” Reynolds said.
One version is still worn by members of the Royal Family for events in Windsor, and it has influenced the uniforms of Visitor Services staff in Windsor and London.