Well-Dressed Rulers of Britain, Past and Present


Who doesn’t love a good story about how a high-ranking British official’s affair with the mistress of an alleged Soviet spy grew into a massive scandal that destroyed the reputation of an entire government, shocked a generation of postwar Brits, and at one point entailed the lady in the middle of the whole thing — Christine Keeler — posing for now-infamous photos that were meant to promote a film about the whole mess?

That’s why Richard Davenport-Hines’ An English Affair is such an enjoyable book: it tells the story of the still-whispered-about Profumo Affair, which rocked the establishment in the early days of Swinging London, in vivid detail. It’s a heavily researched piece of messy British history, all wrapped up in one neat package.

And then there are the photos that illustrate the story, filled with well-dressed politicians of yesteryear, in their silk hats and bespoke pinstripe suits. Sure, many of the people pictured were probably evil schemers and double-crossers, but it’s impossible to deny that British politicians and royalty have always been naturally stylish. Click through to meet some of the aristocracy’s most fashionable representatives, past and present.

Prime Minister Harold Macmillan

The man whose government was largely destroyed by the Profumo Scandal still knew the value of a nice suit, a good mustache, and a dapper haircut.

Edward VIII

He abdicated the throne for love, and was among the most stylish men of the 20th century, with his “soft look,” visibly influenced by Ivy League students across the pond. What else do you need to know?

Winston Churchill

Yes, he looked a little like a bulldog, but Churchill did something right, appearance-wise — iconic Savile Row tailor Henry Poole & Co. decided to revive his chalk striped flannel suit.

Benjamin Disraeli

Simon Doonan called the 19th-century Prime Minister and Victorian dandy a “modern icon” for his zero-fucks-given style sense, which included “velvet trousers and jackets, shirts with ruffles, flashy colored waistcoats, and glittering jewelry, including gold chains strung across his chest.”

Prince Charles

He screwed it up with Diana, but here’s what most Americans haven’t paid enough attention to realize: Prince Charles dresses really well.

Be it hunting:

Rocking a kilt:

Or his vintage style: