military and ceremonial

Ceremonial embroideries to look out for at The Platinum Jubilee Royal Pageant this June.

This year, Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II celebrates 70 years since her 1952 coronation. The Platinum Jubilee is an opportunity to celebrate Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and indulge in something truly historic and joyous. After the global pandemic, lockdowns and social distancing, the world is hoping for a return to grand spectacle and glorious pageantry.

The 2012 Diamond Jubilee saw 670 boats sailing the Thames in a floating pageant with the Queen and her family on the Royal Barge at the centre. The Spirit of Chartwell was the chosen vessel and featured red, gold and purple decorations as well as rich large and small scale embroideries. Hand & Lock produced a large purple banner with goldwork crown and EIIR insignia inspired by the Queen’s 1952 coronation robe.

Elsewhere they created the embroidered coat of arms featured on the red velvet thrones. The Barge made its way along the Thames with 1.2 million people braving the damp weather to see it in person and a further 15 million watching the spectacle on television.

In 2022 there will be year-long celebrations throughout the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. But the epicentre will be the Platinum Jubilee Royal Pageant bank holiday from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June. This four-day public holiday will commence with The Queen’s Birthday Parade (Trooping the Colour) with 1,400 parading soldiers, 200 horses and 400 musicians. 

 

The parade will start at Buckingham Palace before making its way along the Mall to Horse Guards Parade. The Queen is expected to join the procession in the iconic eight-horse-drawn Gold State Coach surrounded by a colourful array of uniforms, pomp and circumstance.

Amongst all the sights to look out for are some special military uniforms worked on by Hand & Lock. At various points in the proceedings, spectators can expect to see the iconic 45cm tall bearskin hats worn by The Guards Division. Or wearing gold helmets with white or red plumes, the Household Cavalry. Lastly, and most handsomely regaled are Her Majesty’s Bodyguard of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms. 

Glistening fine gold and silver wires are spun into decorative coils, woven into laces and hand-sewn to the surface for decoration. Each epaulette with all its grand decoration and embroidery weighs 580 grams, that’s over a kilo of for the pair.
Emblem's of the Sovereign Embroidered Art Piece: The central motif is inspired by the blue & gold Damask frontal - used for interior decoration of Westminster Abbey for the coronation of Elizabeth II.

“The staff of Hand & Lock are all delighted to have their craft recognised by Her Majesty the Queen. The specific project we have been working on has been a source of great pride.”

— Jessica Pile - Company Director
H.M Queen Elizabeth II Star Blazer Badge, Inspired by The Most Honourable Order of the Bath, a British order of chivalry founded in 1725 by King George I.
Heraldic Lion Pin Badge, The lion and the unicorn are, properly speaking, heraldic supporters which appear on the full Royal Coat of Arms of the United Kingdom, the lion standing for England, and the unicorn for Scotland.

While each carries some embroidered details, The Monarch’s Body Guards is the most notable. Established in 1509 by King Henry VIII as his official personal guard, they are now mostly seen in the presence of the Monarch in a symbolic capacity at state ceremonial occasions. The uniform comprises a scarlet coloured single breasted coatee fashioned in melton cloth wool, edged with blue velvet and highly embellished in Hand & Lock gold wire embroidery at the collar and cuffs. The coatee is worn with large gold bullion epaulettes and blue cloth trousers with a gold oakleaf lace (frequently supplied by Hand & Lock)  running the length of each leg. Oakleaf lace also features on a leather crossbody sash that supports a messenger pouch hand-embroidered with the Monarch’s cypher at the back, another element supplied by Hand & Lock.

The esteemed members of this final corp provide a ceremonial bodyguard to the Queen at many official occasions most notably the State Opening of Parliament.

While unlikely to join the procession along the Mall they will likely be in or around Buckingham Palace. Perhaps be visible through the gates, or on the television broadcast of the events.

While much of the goldwork embroidery and gold laces worn by all the attending corps likely originates from Hand & Lock, the dazzling gold epaulettes of the Queen’s bodyguards are an item of special note.

Commissioned directly by Buckingham Palace, each epaulette is hand embroidered and constructed according to ancient traditions. Glistening fine gold and silver wires are spun into decorative coils, woven into laces and hand-sewn to the surface for decoration.

Each epaulette with all its grand decoration and embroidery weighs 580 grams, that’s over a kilo of for the pair.

For their special expertise in making these weighty essential components of the uniform Hand & Lock were awarded the Royal Warrant in 2019. When the warrant was awarded, Company Director Jessica Pile said:

“The staff of Hand & Lock are all delighted to have their craft recognised by Her Majesty the Queen. The specific project we have been working on has been a source of great pride.”

The return of Britain’s colourful pageantry in 2022 represents the enduring resilience of the Monarch and the hopes and positivity of the whole country. Now when you watch the Parade in person or on TV, you’ll be able to see some of the elements described here. And when you do, hopefully, you can better appreciate the skill, artistry and craftsmanship that goes into every detail of the Platinum Jubilee.

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