Members of the British royal family travel all over the world in order to promote their various charities, meet with world leaders, and connect with ordinary people who live in the Commonwealth and beyond.
One way that communities have helped Prince Charles, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and Prince Harry feel welcome over the years is by dressing them in traditional garments. On other occasions, royals will adapt the local style of dress in order to respect the culture.
Here are 13 times royals have dressed in beautiful traditional garments while travelling around the world.
Prince William wore a happi coat while taking part in a celebratory sake barrel-breaking ceremony in Japan.
Happi coats are festive Japanese garments, and a sake barrel-breaking ceremony is performed at celebratory events. The barrel is opened with a wooden mallet in order to serve the sake inside to those present.
In this case, William joined Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer in breaking open a barrel of sake at an Innovation is Great event at Roppongi Hills in Tokyo in 2015. All the men wore the happi coats.
He also wore a yukata, a casual summer kimono, to dinner with the Japanese Prime Minister.
Ryokans, traditional Japanese inns, often offer guests a yukata, a casual summer kimono usually made of cotton, during their stay.
When William met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for dinner at a ryokan in Koriyama, Japan, in 2015, they wore matching yukatas.
Prince Harry visited a school in Lesotho dressed in a traditional tribal blanket.
Harry, dressed in a traditional tribal Basotho blanket, rode into the remote village of Semonkong, Lesotho, in 2010 to visit a school for local herd boys opened by Sentebale, a charity he cofounded.
Basotho blankets resist the wind and rain of the high altitudes of the region and are unique to Lesotho in that they are worn in everyday life. The blankets are traditionally worn with the pinstripe facing vertically to symbolise growth.
Prince Charles put on a makeshift turban while visiting the Sikh holy city of Anandpur Sahib in India.
Sikh temples often ask that visitors cover their hair as a sign of respect and provide pieces of cloth if one doesn’t wear a turban.
Prince Charles visited a gurudwara at Anandpur Sahib, a Sikh holy city in India, in 2006, and covered his hair accordingly.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, wore a headscarf while visiting a mosque in Egypt.
Many mosques ask for all visitors to wear modest clothing and for women to cover their heads with headscarves.
When Camilla and Charles visited a mosque in Cairo in 2006, Camilla wore a loose-fitting coat over her trousers and a scarf wrapped around her head to respect the worshipers in the space.
Kate Middleton did the same at As Syakirin Mosque in Malaysia.
Middleton and William visited As Syakirin Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2012. Middleton also made sure to wear long sleeves and a headscarf.
Prince Charles wore a kilt while fulfilling his royal duties as the Duke of Rothesay.
Royals have many titles as part of their position, some inherited and some bestowed. Charles normally goes by the Duke of Cornwall, but is called the Duke of Rothesay while in Scotland. It was the title of the heir apparent to the throne of the Kingdom of Scotland before 1707.
While attending a church service at Canisbay Church in Canisbay, Scotland, in 2008, the Duke of Rothesay dressed in a traditional Scottish kilt as a tribute to the people of Scotland.
William and Middleton danced with locals in Tuvalu while wearing colourful skirts and adornments.
William and Middleton attended a fatele, an event in which different local groups sing and dance with each other in a friendly competition, in 2012 in Tuvalu. The royals sprayed the dancers with perfume as a sign of respect and gratitude, according to the Express, and wore titi dance skirts made from leaves.
On Guadalcanal Island, they wore traditional island clothing that was gifted to them upon arrival — but it turns out it was from a different island.
According to The Daily Mail, the royals had been told to bring a dress for Middleton and expect a green shirt for William, then found a vibrant pink dress and a blue shirt in their hotel room. Palace staff checked with a government representative to see if they were the right clothes and were told that they were. Middleton reportedly assumed the dress was made by a local designer and was “delighted” to wear it.
It turned out that the clothes originated from the Cook Islands, thousands of miles away. A member of the welcoming committee who was a client of the designer had left the clothes in their room without authorization.
“The Duchess wore the dress because she believed it to be from the Solomon Islands government and thought it would be an appropriate gesture. Had she known it were from the Cook Islands it would not have been worn and she feels bad about the confusion. The situation arose through no fault of Solomon Islands government or the royal household,” St. James Palace spokesperson said in a statement, according to The Daily Mail.
While visiting the set of a historical drama in Tokyo, William tried on the traditional dress of a samurai.
Prince William was invited to wear a traditional samurai outfit during a visit to the set of a historical drama at NHK Broadcasting Center in Tokyo in 2015.
Prince Andrew was greeted with a kahoa, a Tongan lei, in Tonga.
Prince Andrew was greeted with a kahoa – a Tongan lei – as he arrived at the Ministry of Fisheries in Tonga in 1998. The purpose of his visit was to meet with King Tāufa’āhau Tupou IV as a symbol of friendship between the two royal families, according to Matangi Tonga Online.
Prince William wore a kippah (sometimes called a “yarmulke”) to visit the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
William placed a note in the Western Wall during his visit in Jerusalem’s Old City in Israel in 2018. He put on the traditional Jewish skullcap worn by many religious Jews as a sign of honour and respect.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle wore Māori feather cloaks called korowai that were made for them by elders.
The cloaks, woven from flax, were historically used by Māori people to keep warm. They are also important symbols of leadership and strength.
“The korowai is like a protector, to wrap a korowai around someone is to envelop them in strength, warmth and aroha [compassion],” Norma Sturley, the elder who made Markle’s cloak, told the New Zealand Herald.
Prince Harry delivered a speech thanking them for the gifts, Express reports.
“We appreciate the skill of the weavers who made it, the aroha [compassion] that has gone into its creation. The cloak is a taonga [possession] that will be cherished in our family.”
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