The Hand-me-down of Highnesses

updated 10/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/10/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

In the Devonshire village or Honiton 149 years ago, a now-forgotten lacemaker began work on a special commission for Queen Victoria. So exquisite was the floral design—based on Victoria's own wedding gown—that lour hours or handiwork were required to create each square inch or lace. Joined to folds or white satin, the cotton lace was fashioned into a christening robe for the future Edward VII, the Queen's second child and first son. Today the garment is one or the most endearing or Windsor heirlooms. At least 50 royal infants have been bundled up in it, sprinkled with blessed water from the River Jordan and photo-graphed. After each use the robe is band washed in sterilized water and folded away in tissue paper in a Buckingham Palace drawer. In 1977 couturier Norman Hartnell refurbished the robe for Anne's firstborn, Peter Phillips. While the Victorian satin wore out long ago, the original white lace, now faded to cream, sails on. Next up: Princess Eugenie.

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