The British Royal family have had long ties with the traditional cloth of Scotland and a great affinity towards tartan. This link didn’t just start with the current monarch, but can be traced back hundreds of years!
The Dress Act of 1746 under George II brought a ban on kilts and all aspects of highland wear except for uses in the military. Any individual in breach of this act would imprisoned for 6 months for their first offence, and on their second they would be sent to overseas work camps. When the act was repealed it proved to kick-start the popularity in tartan – both with the general public and royalty.
George IV’s visit to Scotland in 1822 propelled the kilt into the forefront of everyone’s minds. Whilst his would have been far dressier than the traditional highlander kilt, the concept became sensationalised and romanticised. This started the real love affair with the royals and tartan.
Queen Victoria continued the link with tartan during her reign, often dressing her children in Kilts. Prince Albert, Victoria’s husband, was a keen tartan designer and attributed as the creator of the (Royal) Balmoral tartan – a tartan to be worn exclusively by the royals and specially selected parties. (The Queen’s personal piper is one of the selected few allowed to be dressed in the tartan.)
Queen Elizabeth is also a keen supporter of tartan, often seen wearing the cloth at Highland games or on visits to Scotland. Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales is also often spotted in a Highland outift on public occasions.
The British Royal family and Tartan have always gone hand in hand. As Queen Elizabeth II breaks the record for longest serving monarch, we hope the link continues for many years to come!