Tartan and the Royal Family
The Royal Family played a vital part in the modern popularity of tartans (and kilts) in Scotland. To this day, every member of the family wears tartan regularly.
The Royal association with tartan really began with the 1822 visit of King George IV to Scotland - the first visit of a reigning monarch to Scotland in nearly two centuries. The famous writer Sir Walter Scott organised the visit, and convinced the King to wear a tartan kilt, which had until recently been banned under the Dress Act of 1746 as a symbol of Scottish rebellion.
To this day, the bright red Royal Stewart tartan remains the most popular pattern of all.
Queen Victoria also played a key role in tartan such a strong Scottish tradition. She fell in love with Scotland, building Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands where the family still holidays together every summer. Both she and her husband Prince Albert wore tartan regularly, and her house at Balmoral (image from 1857) used it widely in its decorations and furnishings.
Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, helped to design the Balmoral tartan, which is still regularly worn by the Royals to this day. By convention, no one outside the Royal Family (other than the Queen's personal piper) may wear the Balmoral tartan. So DC Dalgliesh is one of the few weavers ever to have produced the plaid.
Queen Victoria had many silk dresses in.tartans, often in special variants of the Royal Family's own Stewart sett.
The Queen Mother (who was born in Scotland, at Glamis Castle) also played a big part in tartan's royal association. She wore it often, both while Queen, and later as Queen Mother.
Queen Elizabeth II, the current monarch, very much takes after her mother for her love of tartan, wearing it whenever in Scotland and on many other occasions besides.
Perhaps more than anyone, Prince Charles is known for his distinctive tartan look.
Princess Diana was of course famed for her outstanding sense of style. And tartan regularly played a prominent part in her outfits.
And, of course, Princess Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge (and Countess of Strathearn in Scotland) is known for her tartan outfits too - even before her marriage. Her DC Dalgliesh tartan scarf, first worn for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee on the Thames, has become a wardrobe favourite.
The Royal Family's love of tartan is certainly not only formal. It's great for when relaxing with the family too!