Fashionable limp

Queen Alexandra had a scar and a limp – and British fashion followed suit.

Alexandra of Denmark
W. & D. Downey, London photographers / Public domain

Before we had rock stars, film stars, supermodels, and Instagram influencers, some fashions emerged by copying the styles and looks of royalty. The article linked below (“Limps and bandaged bums were once all the rage. So what comes next?”) sets out a number of curious fashion trends inspired by kings and queens – but the best have to be those copying Queen Alexandra of Denmark.

Alexandra, by the way, was from Denmark but she was not the Queen of Denmark: her father was appointed King of Denmark and she married the future king of the United Kingdom, Edward VII. Her pre-royalty childhood was apparently unremarkable, apart from the fact that Hans Christian Andersen sometimes read her bedtime stories. She’s also not the same Alexandra as the one who believed that she had swallowed a glass piano.

Anyway, Alexandra had a scar on her neck from a childhood operation. Because she was permanently in high society as a result of her father and marriage, she began wearing clothes with high collars, or alternatively large necklaces and chokers around her neck, to hide the scar. A bout of rheumatic fever when she was 23 years old left her with a limp.

But the Queen Consort sets the fashion tone of the entire court: women began to wear higher collars and chokers in imitation of her style, and they also began to walk with an affected limp (apparently achieving this effect with unevenly heeled shoes). It was so well-known that it was called the “Alexandra limp.”

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