I have a confession to make: I am obsessed with perfume. Unfortunately, I suffer from migraines and have to be really careful about which perfume I wear. But the history of perfume is fascinating to me. When I was a young girl I got some scented oils as a gift that were claimed to be the same oils that Cleopatra wore thousands of years ago and I have been hooked on discovering which perfumes famous royal women wear ever since.
This post will focus specifically on British royals. And I would like to start with Elizabeth I even though I realize that she was queen of England and Ireland, not Britain, but I’m putting her in the same category as the other British royals because it’s easier. Elizabethan men and women did not bathe often for fear that it would leave them vulnerable to disease; therefore, perfume became a very vital part of Elizabeth’s beauty regime as a way of hiding her body odor and the fact that she only bathed a handful of times in her life. Women of this period would make their own water by boiling their chosen ingredients for hours and then straining the liquid and using the perfumed water to splash on their skin. The exact recipe for Elizabeth’s perfume was discovered recently in the archives of London’s Royal Horticultural Society and it was recreated exactly. It includes musk, damask water, rose water, and sugar. This scent can be found for a pretty reasonable price but unfortunately it can only be purchased by people in the UK via a gift shop website affiliated with historic places like Hampton Court called “Historic Royal Palaces”. This perfume is aptly named Elizabeth I and is unlike most perfumes that are used today and may be exotic or unusual to 21st tastes. However, if you are like me the idea of holding a piece of history and being able to smell the same exact perfume that Elizabeth I wore herself is a really cool thing. This perfume would be an awesome gift for any history nerds that may be in your life. I have not been able to buy it for myself yet since I’m American, so if you live in the UK and decide to buy it please leave me a comment and tell me what you think of it! You can find the perfume online at historicroyalpalaces.com.
Queen Victoria also enjoyed wearing perfume. She was more experimental than Elizabeth I and enjoyed wearing different scents for different occasions. She preferred to wear scents developed by Creed perfumery which was established in the late 18th century and is still one of the most highly regarded perfumeries in the world with many royal women choosing to wear their scents. Queen Victoria’s favorite Creed perfume was Fleurs de Bulgarie, or Flowers of Bulgaria. It is a floral perfume with rose and bergamot. I would be interested in trying this myself since Queen Victoria also suffered from terrible migraines like I do which makes me wonder if this perfume is appropriate for people who have sensitivities to strong scents. (Fun Fact: Queen Victoria’s famous tiny crown was made especially for her because regular sized crowns and tiaras were too heavy for her and triggered one of her migraines. 🙂 ) Creed is a super expensive perfume, and this particular scent is normally about $260 but you can find it here at amazon.com for $130. Still pricey but 50% less then what it normally would be.
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who would become Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and most commonly known as “The Queen Mum”, apparently loved L’Heure Bleue by Guerlain. Like Creed, Guerlain is also known for making very high quality perfume characterized by unique scents. It is translated into English as “the Blue Hour” and was created in 1912, so it is a bit old fashioned but still a really romantic and lovely scent. It is a bit heavy for me but it is a classic, sophisticated, and timeless fragrance. Reportedly Queen Elizabeth II also wears this perfume which I think is a lovely tribute to her mom.
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (the Queen Mother) was so pretty in the 1920s. She was very stylish and modern and I think people tend to forget about how she was when she was young before her marriage and during the time that she was the Duchess of York. I can imagine that this is the type of perfume an elegant debutante would wear in the roaring 20s, yet it still is wearable today and continues to be popular.
Thanks for reading part one of my British Royal Perfume post! Part two will deal with more modern British royals like Princess Margaret, Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, and the Duchess of Cambridge. If you have a specific royal lady in mind that I have not discussed here and you would like to know what perfume they wore please let me know in the comments and I will get back to you. Don’t forget to follow my blog! 🙂
The Frugal Lady
P.S. Here is a cool little article about 15 perfumes that were made for or inspired by royal women: http://www.more.com/Perfumes-from-the-royal-family