Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Queen Sonja's State Dinner Style

King Harald and Queen Sonja of Norway head off on a State Visit to Italy on April 6th. Their three day trip will include time in Milan and Rome and a State Dinner. Of course. There is always a State Dinner which means there is always a great gala dress or two to enjoy.

As Sonja of Norway prepares for her trip to Italy, here's a look back at ten of her style statements at State Dinners over the last 25 years.

Slovenia, May 2011
There's no getting away from the glory of this gala gown and if only the skirt had matched the top we would have had an all time great royal dress on our hands. As it is, the lace top is exquisite and paired to perfection with diamonds. The pink skirt is rather pretty too, just not the dream that we all had when we saw the top and had visions of that gorgeous material going all the way to the ground.  That aside, it's a beautiful State Dinner look and was worn again in Poland the following year.

Italy, October 2001
The last time Sonja enjoyed a State Dinner in Rome she chose this rather stylish metallic effect floral dress. OK, on paper it sounds like a hard act to pull off but in reality it is chic, sharp and State Dinner stunning. It had previously been worn for evening events during her State Visits to China iFrance looked just as good this time around.  The pearls are a fabulous addition and the whole look is glitz and glamour at its royal best.

France, October 2000
Talking of France, all queens bring their A game to Paris and Sonja was no exception. For the State Dinner held in honour of her and her husband at the Elysee Palace, Sonja chose a stunner of a fuchsia frock with diamonds that dazzled. The cape added a touch of drama while the simplicity of the neckline and the flow of the dress made it an outright winner and then some. 

Switzerland, April 2006
If there was a pattern for a modern queen consort then this is it. Sonja looks beyond regal in this red worn for a State Dinner in Berne and does this queen know how to wear diamonds. If you've got a royal jewel collection then use it and she works it to the limit with style. We've got the hosts' colours in the outfit, we've got sparkle and we've got a gown that would hold its own anywhere and then some. State Dinner perfection.

China, October 1997
One of her most high profile State Visits also produced a stunning State Dinner dress that has become a firm favourite with the Queen of Norway. What's not to love about this column creation which, worn with pearls, is perfect for the occasion and for just about every other royal gala event as well. Perhaps the best part is the flow of the skirt which adds fluidity to a gown that is already winning with its slightly subtler shade of red and the long sleeves which just enhance its simplicity and its chic.

Spain, April 1995
Just four years into her tenure as queen consort, Sonja chose this cream confection for a State Dinner in Madrid, added some emeralds and created a classic that always works and then some. The same look was chosen for State Visits to Belgium, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in the years to come and it always wows for the same reasons as here. The simple colour of the dress added to the texture of the top and the full skirt provide a perfect State Dinner silhuoette while jewels that lovely are always going to add their fair share of dazzle. Stunning.

Greece, May 2004
This is really rather nice. The simple white dress gets takes on a whole new level of interest with the tiered effect bolero jacket while Sonja's modern tiara, sometimes a crowd divider, works brilliantly here in a 20th century take on a traditional Greek style diadem. The darker necklace matches the gem on the tiara and the overall look is fresh and fabulous.

Republic of Ireland, October 2006
This lilac loveliness is a bit of a State Dinner favourite with Sonja. As well as wearing it in Dublin, she used it during her visit to South Africa and it was also worn for the incoming State Visit to Norway by the Japanese Royal Family. It's very pretty, very summery and always looks good with diamonds so why wouldn't a queen wear it as often as possible? 

Latvia, September 1998
This isn't an all time classic but it is definitely a style statement. For her visit to Latvia, Sonja chose a simple navy dress with a far from simple gold and white jacket that certainly gave us a different take on the dinner look. She somehow pulls it off and again stakes a claim to being the current queen with the best understanding of how to use jewellery to full effect - the glittering gold necklace is a touch of class that lifts the whole outfit.

Germany, October 2007
Even style queens get it wrong sometimes and this look will linger long in the memory. As she and King Harald had young grandchildren in the Palace we might be able to find a reason for Queen Sonja turning up at this State Dinner in Berlin dressed for a Star Trek convention but then again, we might not. The tiara by itself is striking and the dress isn't bad and had looked much better in 1999 when Sonja wore it to a State Dinner in Romania with softer hair. And it really is the hair, here, that turns it from gala to space age. With so many other great gala looks to choose from, take the marks for effort and go back to the classics. Can't wait to see what Rome 2016 brings.

Photos: kongehuset.no

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