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The Princesses’ Pantomimes

Start Date 25 November 2021
End Date 31 January 2022
Venue Windsor Castle
Location London, U.K.

During the Second World War, Her Majesty The Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) and Princess Margaret spent much of their time in Windsor, safely away from the bombing in London. Between 1941 and 1944 they performed in and helped to stage a series of Christmas pantomimes to raise money for the Royal Household Wool Fund, which supplied knitting wool to make comforters for soldiers fighting at the Front.

Visitors to Windsor Castle this Christmas will have the unique opportunity to see six rare surviving costumes worn by the teenage Princesses during these wartime performances. Brought together for the first time, the costumes will be displayed in the Waterloo Chamber where the pantomimes were originally performed 80 years ago.

The costumes that survive today were worn by the Princesses during the final two pantomimes – Aladdin (1943) and Old Mother Red Riding Boots (1944). In the title role of ‘Aladdin’, Princess Elizabeth wore a gold brocade and turquoise jacket with turquoise dungarees and matching hat, all of which will be on public display for the first time, while Princess Margaret wore a red silk dress and matching jacket to play ‘Princess Roxana’. The striking red and gold embroidered tunic worn by their fellow cast member to play ‘The King’ and another costume combining pieces worn by both Princesses will also be on display.

Three costumes worn in Old Mother Red Riding Boots will be on display for the first time. Princess Elizabeth wore a long-sleeved pink satin and lace dress to play ‘Lady Christina Sherwood’ and later donned a chintz shirt, trousers and sunhat for a seaside scene, in which Princess Margaret wore a blue taffeta dress with cream lace bloomers to play ‘The Honourable Lucinda Fairfax’.

Also on display in the Waterloo Chamber are the 16 large-scale and colourful pictures of fairy-tale characters that were pasted around the walls to decorate the space for the pantomimes. The pictures have been revealed for visitors to see 75 years after they were covered up at the end of the war, when paintings by Sir Thomas Lawrence that had been removed for safekeeping were returned.