Next best thing for Norma after royal garden party is called off

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 June 2020

Norma Hoare in her Sidmouth garden with her scrapbook and 'The Queen'. Picture: Marian Wale

Norma Hoare in her Sidmouth garden with her scrapbook and 'The Queen'. Picture: Marian Wale

Marian Wale

Former royal dressmaker Norma Hoare, now living in Sidmouth, had been looking forward to attending the Queen’s garden party at Buckingham Palace, until the event was cancelled because of Covid-19.

A dress made by Norma Hoare, which  the Queen wore during a trip to Pakistan, now on display in a museum. Picture: Marian WaleA dress made by Norma Hoare, which the Queen wore during a trip to Pakistan, now on display in a museum. Picture: Marian Wale

So she held a small tea party in her own garden on the same day, Wednesday, May 27, with a cardboard cut-out of Her Majesty in attendance.

The figure had been bought online by her daughter Marian Wale, who had been due to come with her to the Queen’s party.

The other two guests were Mrs Wale’s husband, and one of Mrs Hoare’s friends,

Back in 1955 Mrs Hoare had taken up a three-year apprenticeship with the royal dressmakers Hartnells, and went on to make frocks for the Queen, the Queen Mother, Princess Margaret and Princess Alexandra.

A dress made for the Queen Mother. Picture: Supplied by Norma HoareA dress made for the Queen Mother. Picture: Supplied by Norma Hoare

She said: “Sir Norman Hartnell was a great designer and I loved working for him.

“On one occasion, he sketched a range of dresses which were made and to be shown at a fashion show.

“One of these was called Fountainhead which I personally made; it was really beautiful.

“The dress was chosen by the Queen at a private showing prior to the show, and was then worn at the 1960 Royal variety performance.

“It kept coming back to the workroom to be let out and I couldn’t understand why; it was because the Queen was expecting Prince Andrew.

“In the photo you can see my scrapbook which is now 65 years old and contains photos and materials of the dresses I made and helped make for the Royal Family.

“I’ve made many wedding dresses, garments, curtains and undertaken general needlework for people in the Sidmouth community, which has been a pleasure throughout the years.”

Mrs Wale said this was the second time her mother had missed out on the royal garden party, after being invited last year but then having to have a major operation on her foot.

She said she enjoyed hearing about her mother’s work making dresses for the royals.

“She’s told me some really funny stories, including one where a dress was dropped in a puddle, so they used bread to get most of the stains out, then covered the rest with sequins, I think.”


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