The Queen Fan-Girled This Popular Perfume As Much As The Rest Of Us

The Queen was known for her discretion, which is why it was rare to get a glimpse inside her makeup bag. Over her long reign, we were able to get wind of a couple of her favourite beauty products. We know, for instance, that she favoured Essie’s bare pink nail polish, Ballet Slippers. And she was known to apply Elizabeth Arden’s Beautiful Colour Lipstick in Fig, But, now a new exhibition has spilled the tea on a scent that was close to the Queen’s heart.

Visitors to the V&A’s ‘Gabrielle Chanel Fashion Manifesto’, will have the chance to read a hand-written note from Elizabeth to Frederick ‘Boy’ Browning – a Knight Commander who was also treasurer in the Office of her husband, Prince Philip, the late Duke of Edinburgh. The Queen corresponded with Boy, shortly after her 29th birthday, to thank him for a gift he sent her to celebrate. Dated “April 26th 1955” the letter would have been written just five days after the Queen’s birthday.

“Dear Boy, As usual, you have discovered just the very thing I particularly wanted, and I want to thank you very much for the birthday present of the Chanel scent. I am already using it and, I hope, smelling all the better for it!” Elizabeth wrote.

And, a note from the exhibition was able to confirm that the exact scent was Chanel No.5 – which remains the most well-known and iconic fragrance from the fashion house.


As for what makes the scent special, it was Coco Chanel’s first flirtation with creating her own scent. She wanted to break away from musks to create something revolutionary, fresh and long-lasting. She called on experimental perfumer, Ernest Beaux, in 1920, and after months of tinkering, he presented her with 10 scents to sniff, number 1-5 and 20-24. You’ll probably be able to guess which number she chose, and Chanel No.5 was born. It’s rumoured to be the result of a happy accident in the lab, where Ernest’s assistant accidentally added the scent’s trademark soapy aldehyde note into the scent in a higher dose. As for what captured her, Chanel later explained, “it was what I was waiting for. A perfume like nothing else. A woman’s perfume, with the scent of a woman.”

Chanel No.5 Eau de Parfum

So, if you’re looking for a perfume with the royal seal of approval, Chanel No.5 was a hit with our Queen.

For more from GLAMOUR’s Beauty Editor, Elle Turner, follow her on Instagram @elleturneruk


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