How the Queen transformed into Lady Christina Sherwood as a teenage princess

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The pink satin dress with lace overlay worn by Princess Elizabeth to play Lady Christina Sherwood in Old Mother Red Riding Boots in 1944 (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)
The pink satin dress with lace overlay worn by Princess Elizabeth to play Lady Christina Sherwood in Old Mother Red Riding Boots in 1944 (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)

Costumes made for a teenage Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret when they took to the stage in an Old Mother Red Riding Boots pantomime are to go on display for the first time.

A young Elizabeth, now the Queen wore a long-sleeved pink satin and lace dress to play Lady Christina Sherwood for the production during the Second World War when she was 18.

She also donned a chintz shirt, trousers and sunhat for a seaside scene, in which Margaret wore a blue taffeta dress with cream lace bloomers to play The Honourable Lucinda Fairfax.

Princess Elizabeth’s seaside outfit of chintz shirt and trousers (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)
Princess Elizabeth’s seaside outfit of chintz shirt and trousers (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)

The carefully preserved outfits will be on public view for the first time as part of a special Christmas at Windsor Castle display at the Berkshire royal residence from November 25 to January 31.

They will be shown alongside the outfits the princesses wore for their war-time Aladdin pantomime, which have been exhibited previously.

The royal siblings were closely involved in every aspect of the arrangements for Old Mother Red Riding Boots and acted alongside children from the Windsor Castle community and the Royal Windsor School.

The blue taffeta dress overlaid with cream lace and matching cream lace bloomers worn by Princess Margaret to play The Hon. Lucinda Fairfax (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)
The blue taffeta dress overlaid with cream lace and matching cream lace bloomers worn by Princess Margaret to play The Hon. Lucinda Fairfax (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)

The specially created show combined elements of a number of different pantomimes and fairy-tales, and was written and produced by Hubert Tanner, headmaster of the school.

It was performed three times in December 1944, and for each performance tickets were made available for audiences of between 300 and 600 people.

Specially discounted seats were offered to members of the armed forces and dress rehearsals were attended by staff of the Ministry of Works and Planning who assisted with the technical arrangements for each production.

The princesses’ parents King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and other members of the royal family attended each pantomime.

Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret dressed in costumes for the 1943 performance of Aladdin at Windsor Castle, with Hubert Tannar (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)
Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret dressed in costumes for the 1943 performance of Aladdin at Windsor Castle, with Hubert Tannar (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)

All proceeds raised from the productions were donated to the Royal Household Wool Fund to provide wool to make comforters for soldiers fighting at the Front.

The couturier of the surviving costumes is unknown, but many of those worn in the royal pantomimes between 1941 and 1944 were supplied by two theatrical costumier firms, H&M Rayne and L&H Nathan.

The princesses also wore some of their own clothes for certain scenes, including day and evening ensembles created by the British couturier Sir Norman Hartnell.

The gold brocade and turquoise jacket, worn by Princess Elizabeth to play Aladdin in 1943 (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)
The gold brocade and turquoise jacket, worn by Princess Elizabeth to play Aladdin in 1943 (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)

The costumes will be displayed in the Waterloo Chamber of Windsor Castle where the pantomimes were originally performed 80 years ago.

Also on show will be the 16 large-scale and colourful pictures of fairy-tale characters which were pasted around the walls to decorate the space at the time.

Christmas decorations will also transform the State Apartments at Windsor Castle, along with a 20ft-high tree in St George’s Hall.

Colourful pantomime pictures that were pasted into empty frames in the Waterloo Chamber to decorate the space for the pantomimes (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)
Colourful pantomime pictures that were pasted into empty frames in the Waterloo Chamber to decorate the space for the pantomimes (Royal Collection/PA) (PA Media)

Christmas at Windsor Castle is from November 25 to 3 January 2022. The Princesses’ Pantomimes display is from November 25 to January 31 2022.

Tickets and visitor information can be found at www.rct.uk or +44 (030) 123 7304.

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