The Real Reason Queen Elizabeth II Wore Neon Outfits All the Time

The bright hues of Queen Elizabeth's outfits were no accident

Editor’s note: Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, who sat on the throne for 70 years, has died at 96 years old. In a statement on Sept. 8, 2022, the Royal Family website writes, “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.” The Reader’s Digest team sends condolences to the royal family and all of Britain at this time as we honor her life and legacy.

Beige was apparently too blasé for the Crown. Queen Elizabeth II turned heads (and made headlines) when she wore a bright—no, neon—blue outfit to her 92nd birthday parade. But that wasn’t the first time she’d arrived on the scene wearing a vividly hued number. In fact, throughout her 70-year reign, the queen sported dozens of bold shades, from fuchsia to lemon to royal blue.

So, what was the story behind her bright wardrobe? Was it a fashion statement? Did she simply gravitate toward bright colors? It couldn’t have been a regal requirement, since no one else in the royal family tree dresses like that, could it? We got the scoop on one of the British royal facts you would never guess—and one of the things you’ll always remember about Queen Elizabeth.

So, why did Queen Elizabeth always wear bright colors?

The real reason for Queen Elizabeth’s brightly colored, blocky numbers was actually incredibly sensible—and touching. According to her daughter-in-law Sophie, Countess of Wessex, the queen wanted to make sure members of the public could catch sight of her through the crowds.

“She needs to stand out for people to be able to say, ‘I saw the queen,'” Sophie said in the documentary The Queen at 90. “Don’t forget that when she turns up somewhere, the crowds are two, three, four, 10, 15 deep, and someone wants to be able to say they saw a bit of the queen’s hat as she went past.”

Other sources have confirmed the reason behind Queen Elizabeth’s famous fashion choice as well. “The queen has always been aware that she needs to stand out from the crowd, and it is for this reason that millinery has always played an important role in her wardrobe,” Caroline de Guitaut, the curator at the Royal Collection Trust, told the New York Times in 2016. You can see the difference between photos of a young Elizabeth before she ascended the throne and the ones taken of her later in life.

Turns out, the queen’s famous remark “I have to be seen to be believed” might have been more literal than we initially thought! While Queen Elizabeth’s outfit choices weren’t just about fashion, neither was her decision to carry a purse. Here’s the real reason the queen carried a purse all the time.

Brooke Nelson Alexander
Brooke is a tech and consumer products writer covering the latest in digital trends, product reviews, security and privacy, and other news and features for Reader's Digest. She's a two-time Emmy-nominated reporter with nearly 10 years of publishing experience, and her work has been recognized by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association.