Queen Elizabeth had to scramble for a mourning dress after the sudden death of her father, King George VI

Queen Elizabeth, Prince Phillip

Smith Archive / Alamy Stock Photo Queen Elizabeth arrives in UK from Kenya after death of King George VI

In almost 70 years of his reign, queen elizabeth managed to avoid a single styling incident – but it almost didn’t.

After the sudden death of his father King George VI on February 6, 1952, while Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip were on a break from their Commonwealth tour in Kenya, the new queen had to rush to the UK. The rushed return meant she boarded the plane in the summer clothes she was wearing (apparently a beige dress with white shoes) rather than the black mourning attire she should have worn on her arrival in England.

According to Lady Pamela Hicks, Philip’s cousin and lady-in-waiting to the Queen, the situation was rectified moments after landing in the UK “A black dress was quickly smuggled on board as we had no black dress So she had to change quickly, ”recalls Lady Pamela during a conversation with her daughter India on The India Hicks Podcast.

Elizabeth returns from Kenya

Elizabeth returns from Kenya

Keystone/Hulton Archives/Getty Images Queen Elizabeth returns to the UK on February 7, 1952

Bethan Holt, author of The Queen: 70 years of majestic style (forthcoming April 19), says the Queen would have been very eager to get the right outfit for the somber occasion.

RELATED: Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee Commemorative Coin Unveiled – And It Features Her Favorite Pastime!

“She really wants to look flawless and do it right,” Holt told PEOPLE. “There’s a reason she has a team of dressers and milliners on hand to make sure every outfit is perfect. It’s no mistake that two of the women she’s been closest to for her reign are a woman called Bobo MacDonald and Angela Kelly – and the two were her dressers.”

Princess Elizabeth, who left England last week with the Duke of Edinburgh on their Commonwealth tour, returned to London Airport

Princess Elizabeth, who left England last week with the Duke of Edinburgh on their Commonwealth tour, returned to London Airport

Photo by Alay Princess Elizabeth returns to UK as Queen after death of King George VI

Before stepping off the plane to be greeted by Prime Minister Winston Churchill and the waiting press, the Queen suddenly noticed that they hadn’t sent her car. “After she gets dressed, she walks by me and looks out the window, looks over my head and says, ‘Ahhh.’ She was looking for her car and she said, ‘Oh, they sent the hearses,'” Lady Pamela recalled. “I realized she meant the big royal limousines were all piled up. I suddenly looked up and thought, ‘Here is this 25-year-old woman with two young children, who has just lived a life practically normal naval officer in Malta, and now never going to be private again.”

I can’t get enough PEOPLEThe cover of the Royals? Sign up for our free Royals newsletter to get the latest updates on Kate Middleton, Meghan Markle and more!

The Queen managed a weak smile and waved as she left the airport for Clarence House. The next day, she read an official proclamation declaring her reign as Queen Elizabeth II.

Comments are closed.