Tuesday, 1 October 2013 - 05:07
Coronation Mantle Not Original
New evidence shows that the coronation mantle which was worn by king Willem-Alexander during the inauguration was made in 1948 and is not the original robe of king Willem I, made in 1815. Some news only becomes news when the facts are covered in mystery. The origin of the coronation mantle is such a news item. Everybody can understand that some textiles can age considerably over a certain period of time. Why does the Government Information Service (RVD) keeps on repeating that the robe is slightly changed but still authentic? Coronation mantle A coronation mantle is a symbol of power. Among the beautifully dressed noblemen the king should star during the inauguration. The coronation mantle of the Dutch king is a style which was first used in France. The French style means a long robe made out of silk velvet, lined with mink fur. Embroideries of symbols with gold wire, like the French lily, covered the outside of such robes. And usually a special color was applied like purple, blue, yellow or red, since colorants were expensive before. This were all symbols to emphasize the wealth and power of the king. The only two monarchies in Europe which still use a coronation mantle are England and the Netherlands. Portrait of King Willem I with the first coronation mantle - wikipedia Dutch coronation mantle The word coronation mantle is not exactly correct in the Dutch case, since the kings are not crowned. A coronation mantle appears first on the shoulders of king Willem I. It was a red velvet mantle, with 83 embroideries of lions, lined with mink fur. If the mantle, which king Willem II wore, is the same as the mantle of Willem I, remains a question. It had been totally redone and the only sure thing is that the 83 lions of his fathers mantle were used for the robe of Willem II. But if these original lions were made of silver wire or gold wire that remains the question as well. Willem III did not change anything about the coronation mantle, but of course, for the young Wilhelmina the mantle was adjusted to her size and to the fashion at that time. The coronation mantle was always kept in a metal case. When it was time to use the mantle again, for the inauguration of Juliana, the tailor who was assigned to adjust the robe, was shocked by the looks of it. Erwin Dolder A young Swiss tailor, Erwin Dolder (1928 – 1970), made a good reputation in a very short time. After making a dress for the singer Josephine Baker in 1945, he gained more and more popularity and at a certain moment the fame of the young couturier reached princess Juliana. He was asked to make the inauguration dress for Juliana, for which she gave him the freedom to use the gemstones from the jewelery treasure of the monarchy. After the inauguration dress was finished, she also handed him over the old coronation mantle and asked him to fix it. Dolder was astonished. Not only the fur was ruined but also the color of the velvet was faded. The story is that, without informing the princess, he decided to renew most of the robe. He only ‘transplanted’ the 83 lions to the new dress. New Evidence That the coronation mantle was not original, was already known from the book of art historian Dieuwke Grijpma in 1999. She interviewed for her research people who actually had seen the ruined, old robe. The new evidence are the actual invoices of two ateliers in Switzerland, where Erwin Dolder bought the new velvet and mink fur, and let the 83 lions transfer. The invoices were recently found in the Swiss country archive by Dr. Rolf Thalmann. Juliana Queen Juliana wearing the brand new coronation mantle - wikipedia The story is that Juliana heard just one day before the inauguration in 1948, that most of the coronation mantle that she would wear was renewed or even almost new. Since she valued the historical traditions very much, it was kept secret that the robe had been renewed. Dolder was told not to talk about it. But did Juliana not know something about the bad shape of the coronation mantle? In 1949, Herbert Sinz, wrote an article about the astonishing career of Erwin Dolder. According to Sinz, Dolder did make the inauguration dress but when he was asked to fix the coronation mantle, he wanted to refuse the job after seeing the state of the mantle. “Finally he found a fine solution to the full satisfaction of the princess.” In 1955 and 1956, Juliana ordered again two dresses from Dolder. RVD With all this evidence it might be clear that the RVD tries to cover up the story a bit. The RVD keeps on saying that the coronation mantle is authentic and that it is still the same robe as worn by king Willem I. They admit that some adjustments had to be made in 1948 and 1980. (But what about the adjustments for Willem II and for Wilhelmina?) In 1980 was the inauguration of Beatrix. Her tailor also had to do major adjustments since the fur had partly took over the color of the red velvet. Big part of it had to be replaced. She could not use new mink fur, because it would have been much too white. A solution was found by using an older mink cloak of a customer of the tailor, Elly Brenninkmeijer, the wife of the boss of C&A. It is said that at family parties of the Brenninkmeijers it was always a nice anecdote that the coronation mantle was lined with fur from C&A. King Willem-Alexander with the newest version of the Dutch coronation mantle - koninklijkhuis.nl Willem-Alexander We all understand Willem-Alexander. The coronation mantle is a sign of power of the family. It makes them look as the rightful heirs of the Netherlands. Monarchy in 2013 means keeping up old traditions. Juliana was his grandmother and of course he doesn’t want to blame her for her actions around 1948. He says in an interview before the inauguration, “of course the mantle had to be adjusted, repaired, etc. over the last 200 years. I understand that. The silver wire lions had to be made shining again, but it is still the old robe which I will wear on my shoulders.” One thing is for sure, no matter they are made out of silver wire or gold wire (?), the lions on the coronation mantle are still the same as the lions on the mantle of king Willem I.