Entertainment Style The Crown: Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret’s sartorial showdown
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The Crown: Queen Elizabeth and Princess Margaret’s sartorial showdown

margaret elizabeth
The Crown's Queen Elizabeth (left) and Princess Margaret (right) prove style is all about personality. Photo: Netflix
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This month I seem to be having more than a few conversations about The Crown, the wonderful Netflix series based on the life of Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth.

Even if you are not a royalist, the set design, locations and costumes alone will have you binge-watching for hours (I watch each episode twice, just to check out the floral arrangements and colours of the Palace walls).

British actress Claire Foy is a marvellous Elizabeth, and her wardrobe is magnificent, but everybody is in love with her lively and rebellious younger sister, the glamorous Princess Margaret, played brilliantly by Vanessa Kirby.

Both the sisters are equal in the style stakes when it comes to evening wear, those gorgeous tulle and satin full-skirted gowns in beautiful ’50s pastels, often set off by the most incredible tiaras, crowns and jewels.

Margaret’s cocktail dresses are just gorgeous, strapless and tight, and the fact that the majority of the time she is bored, pouting, or kissing an unsuitable lover while smoking a cigarette makes her our favourite Royal minx.

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Princess Margaret (Vanessa Kirby) is usually locking lips with an unsuitable lover, like future husband Antony Armstrong-Jones (Matthew Goode). Photo: Netflix

But she really knocks it out of the park when it comes to daywear. As Elizabeth heads into the kilt and twin-set fallback position, Margaret pulls out the pedal pushers, pleated and high waisted, worn with a panelled silk shirt, not to mention the long-sleeved shirt tucked into the full skirt she was wearing when she whooshed across the room into Group Captain Townsend’s arms.

Her tweed jacket, silk scarf and jodhpur ensembles are a cracker, and she rocks the tightly belted trench with a headscarf slightly better than her sister, maybe because of the aforementioned good girl gone bad attitude (and the cigarette).

GALLERY: Some of Elizabeth and Margaret’s best looks

Structured skirt suits (worn here by Princess Margaret) are favoured by both sisters. Photo: Netflix
While Margaret wears form-fitting gowns, Elizabeth favours full, feminine silhouettes. Photo: Netflix
Princess Margaret wears basic classics with confidence. Photo: Netflix
Somehow, Margaret's headscarves and twin-sets take on a sexier feel with her devil-may-care attitude. Photo: Netflix
Princess Margaret favours tight, strapless formal wear. Photo: Netflix
Queen Elizabeth's wedding gown will always remain a sartorial highlight. Photo: Netflix
Margaret is rarely without a red lip and a set of stylish gloves. Photo: Netflix
Queen Elizabeth's travel outfits are practical and chic. Photo: Netflix
Queen Elizabeth, pictured here filming her first televised national address, prefers to look discreet and appropriate. Photo: Netflix
Princess Margaret, pictured with her lover Anthony Armstrong Jones, loves a bold colour. Photo: Netflix
Queen Elizabeth keeps warm in a classic fur. Photo: Netflix
When it comes to daywear, Margaret has the upper hand. Photo: Netflix
While both women enjoy a two-strand pearl necklace, Queen Elizabeth's look far more conservative thanks to her twin-sets and full skirts. Photo: Netflix

It is a master class in showing how personality changes what is essentially the same outfit – where the Queen’s two-strand pearl necklaces look discreet and appropriate, Margaret manages to makes her pearls look sexy and insouciant, ditto with the fox fur stoles and satin gloves at the gala events.

Not that the Queen doesn’t have some outstanding sartorial moments, her wedding dress being the jewel in what looks to be a lot of crowns.

Her on-tour wardrobes were, and still are, lovely – polished travel outfits like cotton frocks, tailored skirt suits and neat cocktail coats. It is charming to watch her handbag come into play as the series unfurls, along with her odd habit of tucking it over her arm even when she is at home.

claire foy the crown
Actress Claire Foy perfectly captures the young Queen’s developing handbag habit. Photo: Netflix

The Queen found a handbag shape she loves and apparently owns 300 different versions of. Made by Launer, it is boxy, with short handles, and is seen mostly in black, white or beige. Always carried on the left arm, it is compact enough not to get in the way when she shakes hands, but big enough to hold everything she needs.

Rumour has it the royal handbag acts as something of a signal, and where she places it (like on the floor or on the table) sends a discreet message to the royal staff if she wants her guests to leave. Now that is stylish.

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