She hated the monarchy but Vivienne Westwood charmed 'punk' Charles

She hated the monarchy but Vivienne Westwood charmed 'punk' Charles

April 27, 2023

She hated the monarchy and went to the Palace with no knickers on. Yet design queen Vivienne Westwood charmed King Charles – who is ‘an unexpected punk at heart’, says aide

  •  King sent special envoy to represent him at late designer’s memorial service
  • She backed Charles’s green views and famously wore dress with his face on

He is better known for Savile Row tailoring and traditional tweeds than punk fashion, but that did not stop the King paying a special tribute to anti-monarchist designer Dame Vivienne Westwood at her memorial service.

It might seem an unlikely friendship, but Charles was a long-time supporter of punk queen Dame Vivienne and her anti-establishment fashion brand, whose flagship store first opened on the King’s Road in 1971.  

Dame Vivienne died earlier this year. And, although he was unable to be at the memorial service himself, King Charles asked for Sir Nicholas Coleridge, former boss of the Conde Nast magazine group, to personally represent him in the front pew at Southwark Cathedral in central London.

Despite her anti-establishment, anti-royal views, Vivienne Westwood discovered that Charles was ‘an unexpected punk at heart’

Known for her outrageous taste, Vivienne Westwood twice went to the Palace with no knickers on. Her she is attending a reception for the Elephant Family charity  at Clarence House hosted by Camilla, then Duchess of Cornwall, in 2019

Dame Vivienne was such a fan of Charles and his green views that she wore a dress with his face on at a Milan fashion show. Her support for him ‘polarised’ her fans

One Royal aide quipped that the monarch is an ‘unexpected punk at heart’. 

‘Amid all the fanfare around the arrival of the celebrities few noticed that Nicholas Coleridge processed down the aisle and took a seat in the front pew because he had been asked by King Charles to represent him at Vivienne Westwood’s funeral,’ said a royal source.

‘Charles felt strongly that he wanted to have a presence there as he was a big fan, and an unlikely friend of the designer.’ 

The service was not the first time their mutual respect had been highlighted. Dame Vivienne dedicated her 2015 Autumn-Winter menswear catwalk show in Milan to Prince Charles in celebration of his environmental work.

She even wore a dress emblazoned with his face on the day. 

As she said at the time: ‘If Prince Charles had ruled the world according to his priorities during the last 30 years, we would be alright and we would be tackling climate change.’

The pro-Charles catwalk show was said to have ‘polarised’ her fans – many of whom were anti-monarchist punks.

Westwood’s most famous creation was the iconic ‘God Save the Queen’ T-shirt she designed in 1977. Emblazoned with Sex Pistols lyrics – she was dating the band’s manager Malcolm McLaren at the time – it controversially had a safety pin running through a graphic of the Queen’s face.

One of Dame Vivienne’s strangest claims to fame in her lifetime was that she twice went to Buckingham Palace twice wearing no knickers. 

During the first visit, in 1992, she famously lifted her skirt to flash the cameras after meeting the Queen. The stunt was said to have amused the late monarch.

The move did not deter the King from developing an affection for the designer and a Royal source said that their shared interests extend beyond a passion for environmental causes.

‘They had a connection because they love British brands and British craftsmanship too’ said the source. ‘Charles has dipped his toe into the waters of fashion via his support for the wool industry.’

In 2010 King Charles launched his Campaign for Wool initiative to support the British wool industry and nominated Sir Nicholas Coleridge to be its chairman. 

The designer poses for photographers after becoming a Dame in 2006

Kate Moss and Victoria Beckham attend the memorial service for Vivienne Westwood at Southwark Cathedral in London on February 16, 2023

The King asked publisher Sir Nicholas Coleridge to represent him at Dame Vivienne’s memorial service

An aide described Coleridge as ‘fashion Royalty’ and the ‘perfect choice’ to represent King Charles at the funeral for Derbyshire-born Westwood, who died peacefully in December, aged 81.

The source said, ‘Nicholas was especially asked to represent both Charles and Camilla and in his capacity as an official representative of the King was invited by the Westwood family to process up the aisle at the funeral and sit in the front pew.’

Nicholas, who oversaw the planning for last year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations for the late Queen said: 

‘It wasn’t about me, and I was simply representing the King and Queen Consort. The King and Vivienne Westwood had a strong mutual interest in sustainability and the environment. That was their connection.’

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