What happens to Queen Elizabeth’s clothes after her death?

Queen Elizabeth II, the longest reigning British monarch, passed away on September 8, 2022 at the age of 96. During her 70-year reign, the Queen amassed an extensive wardrobe filled with colorful coats, hats, accessories, and gowns. It has been estimated that she owned over 5,000 outfits throughout her life. Her signature colorful coat dresses and matching hats were iconic parts of her royal image.

Now that the Queen has sadly passed away, questions arise around what will happen to her vast fashion collection. As a beloved public figure for over seven decades, her clothing encapsulates her life and legacy. Her outfits tell the story of how fashion and style evolved over the 20th and 21st centuries.

What happens to the clothes of deceased royals?

The Queen’s clothes, along with other items from her estate, will be passed down to family members or donated to museums and charities. This follows the traditions of previous deceased British royals.

For example, after Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother passed away in 2002 at age 101, many of her clothes were donated to charities for fundraising auctions. These auctions raised over £5 million for various charities the Queen Mother supported.

The Queen Mother’s couture Norman Hartnell gowns were left to her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II. Some of these gowns are now displayed at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle.

After Princess Margaret’s death in 2002, hundreds of her outfits were sold by Christie’s auction house to benefit charity. The auction raised £3.5 million including the sale of her wedding dress for £25,000.

So historically, the clothes of dead royals have been donated, auctioned off, passed down to family members, or preserved in museums and archives. It is expected that Queen Elizabeth II’s wardrobe will follow a similar path.

What will happen to Queen Elizabeth II’s most iconic outfits?

For Queen Elizabeth II’s most iconic outfits, these historically significant pieces will likely be preserved and possibly displayed at official royal residences.

For example, important ceremonial gowns like her coronation gown from 1953 may be displayed at Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle or the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The extravagant gown was designed by Sir Norman Hartnell and is embroidered with the emblems of the United Kingdom and Commonwealth countries. This stunning gown would be preserved to represent the historic beginning of Elizabeth’s reign.

Her elaborate evening gowns and day dresses by go-to designers Hartnell and Hardy Amies will probably be preserved and displayed at official royal residences as well. There are also possibilities of loans for exhibitions at museums or galleries in the future.

Accessories like her ever-present Launer London handbags, her shoes, hats, and jewelry will likely join museum collections. Major pieces like her diamond encrusted crowns, sapphire jewels, and pearl necklaces hold immense historic and monetary value. Museums would eagerly welcome these showstopping accessories into their exhibits.

What charities could receive Queen Elizabeth’s clothing donations?

For her less formal coats, dresses, suits and shoes, these items will likely be donated to charities. Traditionally, deceased royal wardrobes have been donated to their patronages and favorite causes.

Queen Elizabeth II was a longtime patron of over 600 charities and organizations. British charities that the Queen supported for decades and held close to her heart could be the recipients of her clothing donations.

Possible recipients include her cherished patronages like Barnardo’s, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Horticultural Society, the British Red Cross, the Royal Society of Chemistry, the Women’s Institute, and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Other British charities and organizations dedicated to helping children, supporting the arts, aiding the military, protecting animals and more could also receive donations from the Queen’s wardrobe. Auctioning off some of her clothes could help these charities immensely by raising funds.

Even scraps of lace, fabric trim and sewing notions from the Queen’s clothes could be treasured keepsakes for charities to auction off.

Will the Queen’s clothing be preserved in museums?

It is very likely that museums in the UK and possibly around the Commonwealth will acquire Queen Elizabeth II’s ensembles into their collections.

Important ceremonial dresses, evening gowns, suits and accessories that are not put on display at royal residences would be prime candidates for fashion and decorative arts museums. Rotating these elaborate outfits through exhibits would allow the public to view these historic fashions.

Possible museums include the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Museum of London, the National Museum of Scotland, the Royal Ontario Museum in Canada, the Australian Museum in Sydney and the Smithsonian in the USA. The V&A could start a new Elizabeth II fashion exhibition to complement their previous collection of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s gowns.

Loans between museums could make Queen Elizabeth II’s clothes more accessible. Her wardrobe could be shared through exhibitions across the UK and the world. Cultural institutions would cherish adding her outfits into their textile and dress collections.

Who in the royal family could inherit the Queen’s wardrobe?

Within the royal family, Queen Elizabeth II’s only daughter Princess Anne will likely inherit many pieces from her mother’s wardrobe. Anne has honored her mother’s timeless style by re-wearing many of the Queen’s gowns and coats over the past decades. Anne will probably cherish inheriting her mother’s clothes, recycling them for events and engagements.

The Queen’s granddaughters-in-law Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge may also be given gowns and dresses. Both Sophie and Kate’s fashion choices have been influenced by the late Queen’s classic style. Inheriting actual pieces from Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe would hold sentimental value.

There may also be select pieces passed down privately as heirlooms through the royal family, especially to Princess Charlotte who is now second-in-line to the throne. The young princess could one day wear pieces owned by her great-grandmother Queen Elizabeth II.

It will be interesting to watch if any of the Queen’s clothes are repurposed or reworn by working members of the royal family. This would be a meaningful way to honor the late monarch.

How much could the Queen’s clothes be worth if sold?

While the historic and sentimental value of Queen Elizabeth II’s wardrobe is immense, the monetary value of her clothes is also notable. If sold at auction, collectors may pay large sums to own anything once worn by the Queen.

Christie’s previously auctioned over 200 of Princess Margaret’s outfits, raising £3.5 million for charity in 2006. And that was just a portion of Margaret’s wardrobe. The entirety of Queen Elizabeth II’s extensive wardrobe could be worth significantly more.

Individual couture gowns, coats and dresses could easily fetch £20,000 to £50,000 based on estimates from royal and fashion experts. Iconic pieces like her wedding dress or coronation gown could potentially sell for over £100,000.

Rarer and more elaborate pieces encrusted in diamonds, pearls and other gemstones could sell for even higher. Collectors may be willing to pay astronomical prices for gowns worn to monumental events like state dinners or royal tours.

If the majority of the Queen’s estimated 5,000 outfits were donated to charity and sold at auction, her wardrobe could be valued at over £200 million. As a beloved and fashionable monarch for 70 years, owning anything from Queen Elizabeth II’s closet has immense value for collectors, museums and royal fashion enthusiasts.


Queen Elizabeth II’s vast wardrobe accumulated over her 70 year reign provides a snapshot into 20th and 21st century fashion history. While her iconic coats, hats, dresses, accessories and gowns will be missed seeing at royal engagements, they will undoubtedly live on as treasured keepsakes and museum artifacts.

The Queen’s clothes will likely follow traditions of being passed down to family members, donated to charities, or preserved in museums and royal archives. This will allow her legacy of elegant style to be admired for generations to come. The Queen’s iconic fashion will forever be linked to memorable moments from her historic reign as Britain’s longest serving monarch.

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