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Why does Queen Elizabeth always wear bright colors?

The queen has a famous motto: "You have to be seen to be believed."
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip wave from the roof of a car to people in the crowd waving flags and gold streamers.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh, wave to crowds in London on their way to watch a parade in celebration of the Golden Jubilee on June 4, 2002.Anwar Hussein / Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Queen Elizabeth II has been in the public eye her entire life and wants to make sure her subjects see her — literally.

That's partly why she has long worn festive, bright colors for her public appearances, according to royal expert Daisy McAndrew.

"She's quite small — so sometimes just quite difficult to spot — so her dressers ... decided some years ago that it would be helpful if she was brightly colored so that people could spot her easily," she said.

But also, the queen has a famous motto: "You have to be seen to be believed," McAndrew said.

Queen in a deep purple pea coat and purple top hat with a feather accent holding flowers in front of a crowd with old-fashioned digital cameras.
In this 2011 photo, the queen wore a purple jacket and hat to visit with crowds in King's Lynn, England. (Photo by Indigo/Getty Images)Indigo / Getty Images

"In other words, now, that's more about getting out there and doing the job, but it does also lend itself to being seen literally by wearing bright clothes," she said. “And I think, finally, that it’s just a personal preference … she likes all the matching hats and all the rest of it.”

A look back at photos of the royal's style throughout her life attests to her affinity for colorful clothes. As a head of state, Elizabeth has visited all corners of the Earth — and typically with flair.

There are countless examples of this trend. For a walkabout during her Silver Jubilee in 1977, Elizabeth wore a flowing pink dress with a matching jacket and hat.

Queen stands in pink dress, jacket and hat on a street next to a man in a floor length robe with white fur. Cheering crowds holding british flags behind barricades wave.
During the celebration of her Silver Jubilee, the queen wore bright pink for a walkabout with her subjects on June 7, 1977. She is accompanied by the Lord Mayor of London, Sir Robin Gillett, right.Hulton Archive / Getty Images

For a visit to the Great Wall of China in the late 1980s, she wore a tailored skirt suit in purple.

Queen And Philip stand on the Great Wall Of China.
The queen and Prince Philip visit the Great Wall of China on Oct. 14, 1986. Tim Graham / Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

And in the early 1990s, she chose a bright green look on a state trip to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland.

Queen Iceland
Queen Elizabeth II wears bright green for a visit to Reykjavik, Iceland, on June 25, 1990.Tim Graham / Tim Graham Photo Library via Getty Images

In the 2016 documentary "The Queen at 90," Sophie, Countess of Wessex, explained what it is like to be a part of the royal family's public appearances with the longstanding monarch.

"When you realize that people have actually turned up to say hello and they want to say hello, and they're pleased to see you, it's very heartwarming, really," Sophie said. "Actually to stand back and watch the sheer pleasure on people's faces as they get to be able to say hello to the queen is wonderful. Just a look or a nod or a smile and hello — they're absolutely thrilled."

Queen Elizabeth II wears a pink jacket and matching hat as she walks down the street past crowds of people holding small British flags.
Queen Elizabeth II greets her subjects who have gathered in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, on Nov. 6, 2009.Indigo / Getty Images

Sophie's husband — Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, and the youngest son of the queen — added that they love watching his mother work a crowd.

"Without a shadow of a doubt, one of the best entertainments is being in the car behind the queen's car," he laughed. "That's when you see all the reactions, especially places where they're not expecting to see the queen."

An analysis done by Vogue in 2012 showed the queen most often wore blue that year, though McAndrew said she believes the royal is "more into pink and red now."

"She's gotten very into lime green recently as well," McAndrew said. "I suspect that she probably got persuaded into wearing it and then probably had a lot of compliments."

Queen Elizabeth II Attends The Royal Windsor Cup 2021
The queen, in bright lime green, attends a polo match on July 11, 2021, in Egham, England.Max Mumby/Indigo / Getty Images

The queen's senior dresser, Angela Kelly, has worked for the royal since 1994. In Kelly's 2019 book, "The Other Side of the Coin: The Queen, the Dresser and the Wardrobe," she explained that many of the monarch's outfits are designed and made in-house. In designing the royal's outfits, Kelly said she uses locally purchased fabrics, gorgeous belts of cloth purchased while traveling, and occasionally fabrics gifted to the monarch.

"Colour is key though — the colour chosen must suit the Queen and the occasion," Kelly wrote. "Vibrant colors work well in the daytime: they allow her to stand out from the crowd and be visible to the well-wishers who have come to see her."

Royal Ascot - Day 4
Queen Elizabeth II wears bright pink and a brooch gifted to her by the Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan in 2013 at the Royal Ascot on June 20, 2014. Max Mumby/Indigo / Getty Images

As it is likely to rain in England, the queen also has a collection of clear umbrellas with every possible color trim to match her outfits, Kelly said.

“If it is raining, she will use one of the many transparent umbrellas she has...which ensures that, even in the wettest conditions, she remains as visible as possible,” Kelly wrote.

Two side by side images of the queen in colorful outerwear with coordinated hats and umbrellas.
The queen has a large collection of umbrellas to match her colorful outfits.Dominic Lipinski, WPA Pool/Indigo / Getty Images

Kelly added that the queen also chooses her hats to match the occasion for each event.

"For example, when Her Majesty visits a school or a children’s centre, she is always dressed in a bright, jolly colour, and her hat has the kind of details that will appeal to children — feathers, twirls, twists, flowers, and ribbons," Kelly wrote. "When she visits a nursing or residential home for older people, she prefers to wear a strong, well-defined colour, with a structured hat, to help those who are visually impaired to see her."

The Queen wears a yellow polka dotted a line dress and coordinated turban as she stands among a group of schoolchildren.
Queen Elizabeth II with a group of local children during her state visit to Mexico in 1975. Serge Lemoine / Hulton Archive/Getty Images

McAndrew speculates that the queen also just "doesn't want to look like she’s wearing depressing colors," but added the "main thing is about standing out."

"So if people have waited to see her, they don't feel like it was a wasted trip," she said. "But certainly the bigger the crowd, the brighter the clothes."