The Queen has worn the same style of shoe for 50 years
While much attention has been focused on the remainder of Queen Elizabeth II’s wardrobe in the past, including her impeccably coordinated technicoloured outfits, to her ever-impressive headwear, many have remained less than curious about one particular clothing category: her shoes.
They’ve supported the Queen as she goes about her royal duties for almost 50 years, looking decorous yet never detracting attention from their sovereign, and accompanying her everywhere from prison visits to her Diamond Jubilee pageant.
And these valuable servants? Not equerries or other royal minions, but her trusty patent leather shoes, the unsung heroes of the Royal household.
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While the monarch will occasionally switch up her shoe wardrobe for more formal royal engagements, the style that’s been dubbed her “work” shoes is one that she’s worn for over half a century. Handmade by London-based footwear company, Anello & Davide, each and every one of the Queen’s shoes are reportedly made by a dedicated team—including a pattern cutter, a clicker (a person in charge of selecting the leather), a closer (who sews the shoe’s upper and stiffens the shoe) and a maker, who tops it all off with a sole and a heel. which cost about £1,000.
Prior to Anello & Davide’s official appointment as the Queen’s shoemaker, it was a British family-founded firm named Rayne that looked after the Queen’s footwear needs, having first come to them in the early ‘60s on the recommendation of the Queen’s mother who issued the company with a Royal Warrant in 1936. However, after Rayne ceased production, the Queen was so intent on keeping her favourite style of shoe in her wardrobe that she tracked down one of their in-house shoe makers, David Hyatt—who went on to work for the monarch’s current aforementioned shoemaker—and enlisted his help to reinstate the production of her go-to court-style heel.
Using a wooden cast made from the measurements of the monarch’s foot, her shoes are made from the finest calf leather, typically finished in black patent, being the Queen’s colourway and finish of choice, and either a brass clasp or small bow. And before the shoes can be properly worn, there will be a final fitting at Buckingham Palace, where any final adjustments, and a clean and polish, will take place.
The Queen has worked her way through hundreds of almost identical pairs over the years but circulates about ten pairs at any one time — includes plain black leather, black patent, white leather and beige leather, and three designs of evening shoe in satin, silver and gold. They are all hand-dyed and water-repellent.
Among the many obscure occupations that exist within the walls of Buckingham Palace exists the role of the footman—a person, or group of people, who among other things have been tasked with the everyday care of the Queen’s shoes.
Reportedly responsible to get hold of the monarch’s shoes once they’ve been worn, designated footmen are then said to air out the shoes on a shoe tree, before giving them a polish and storing them individually in silk or cotton drawstring bags.
She even has a designated person to break her shoes in for her.
Among the many once-confidential revelations that have come out of the Queen’s long-time aide, Angela Kelly’s newly-released royal tell all titled The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, one fact of particular interest was that the monarch has her shoes broken in before wearing them for a public engagement—a task delegated to Kelly herself.
“As has been reported a lot in the press, a flunky wears in Her Majesty’s shoes to ensure that they are comfortable and that she is always good to go,” Kelly wrote, according to People. “And yes, I am that flunky.” Continuing, Kelly made clear the importance of this task given the Queen’s often hectic schedule, one which doesn’t allow for uncomfortable footwear. “The Queen has very little time to herself and no time to wear in her own shoes, and as we share the same shoe size it makes the most sense this way,” Kelly noted.
While the Queen’s 1953 coronation ensemble contained many a noteworthy piece, including her Norman Hartnell-designed white satin dress—which was embroidered with the emblems of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth in both gold and silver thread—and the three headpieces she wore throughout the occasion, including the George IV State Diadem adorned with 1,333 diamonds and 169 pearls—her footwear on the day is just as worthy of a mention.
Designed by Roger Vivier himself, her coronation shoes were custom-made by the French shoe designer for the event, crafting them out of gold leather, studding them with rubies, and incorporated a fleur de lis motif that corresponded to the Imperial State Crown she also wore that very same day, according to Town & Country. And the most dedicated of royalists would be pleased to know that an almost exact replica of the Queen’s coronation shoe was recreated by Roger Vivier’s creative director Gherardo Felloni for the label’s spring/summer 2020 collection, the style dubbed the Queen Sandal.
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