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Was Queen Elizabeth II Affected by Postwar Rationing?

By Kevin Hellyer
Updated May 23, 2024
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Five years before she would become queen of England, 21-year-old Princess Elizabeth said “I do” to Philip Mountbatten. The engagement was announced in July 1947, hard on the heels of the Second World War in bruised and battered Britain.

They were to be married just four months later, so there was little time to plan and get a dress made. Rationing was still in effect for all, including the Royal Family. However, Princess Elizabeth was awarded an additional 200 ration coupons from the government to help pay for the celebration and to buy material for the gown.

Designer Norman Hartnell created a dress made from ivory silk, duchesse satin and silver thread. It featured crystals, 10,000 seed pearls, a fitted bodice, a heart-shaped neckline, long sleeves and a 15-foot train.

The postwar princess:

  • Following news of the engagement, well-wishers from around Britain sent their own ration coupons to Princess Elizabeth in the mail. However, it was illegal to transfer coupons between households, so the young royal sent them all back.

  • A team of 350 women created the dress in only seven weeks. In 2016, the wedding dress and coronation gown went on display at Buckingham Palace as part of Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday celebrations.

  • According to the Royal Collection Trust, the gown was meant to symbolize "rebirth and growth" in Britain after the war.

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Discussion Comments

By ripper — On Dec 05, 2020

This is what you call a leader. I knew a lot about her but this is more to know about her. She, along with deceased PM Margaret Thatcher, were/are beloved in the UK. The queen stayed in the UK (did not run to wherever) for basically the whole of World War II, was actually in London during the bombings, worked in military and dealt with dead/injured civil and/or military. Her children and grandchildren and I guess she hopes for the future her great grandchildren maybe eventually learn to follow her lead like she was in World War II, but only time will tell.

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