THE REAL HIGH-SOCIETY VIRGINS
ala NETFLIX’s Hit BRIDGERTON
NOSTALGIA / SOCIAL HISTORY /
The LOST Age of the DEBUTANTES
RARE 1935 VINTAGE
Eight Annual Birthday Ball
In Aid of the maintenance
of England’s largest Maternity Hospital
(Patron: HER MAJESTY THE QUEEN)
Thursday June 13th 1935
Queen Charlotte’s Ball
The Queen Charlotte’s Ball is an annual British debutante ball.
The ball was founded in 1780 by George III as a birthday celebration in honour of his wife,
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, for whom the ball is named.
The Queen Charlotte’s Ball originally served as a fundraiser
The annual ball continued after Queen Charlotte’s death in 1818,
but was criticised by the British royal family
in the 1950s and 1960s and folded in 1976.
It was revived in the 21st century by Jenny Hallam-Peel,
a former debutante, who shifted its focus from entering high society
to teaching business skills, networking, and etiquette,
and fundraising for charities.
Debutantes being presented curtsey
to a large birthday cake in honour of Queen Charlotte.
The Queen Charlotte’s Ball is named after
a German princess who, as the wife of George III,
The first ball was hosted in 1780 by George III
The Queen stood next to a giant birthday cake
and debutantes curtseyed to her.
Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz funded a London women’s hospital,
later named the Queen Charlotte’s and Chelsea Hospital,
The ball, which continued to take place annually
in celebration of the queen’s birthday,
After Queen Charlotte’s death in 1818,
the ball continued to be hosted
were presented as debutantes to the royal court.
After being presented at court,
debutantes were allowed to partake
in all the exclusive social diversions of high society:
attending parties, balls, and horse races,
and being eligible for marriage.
Debutantes presented at Queen Charlotte’s Ball
would curtsey to the reigning sovereign
In the late 1950s the Duke of Edinburgh
referred to the ball as “bloody daft”
Princess Margaret reportedly disapproved of the ball
(she is said to have complained that:
“Every tart in London is getting in”),
particularly that candidates were bribing former debutantes
In 1958 Elizabeth II announced
she would no longer have debutantes presented at court.
In the 1960s and 1970s the participation in debutante balls
around the United Kingdom dropped,
leading to the Queen Charlotte’s Ball folding in 1976.
The Queen Charlotte’s Ball was revived
in the early 21st century by Jenny Hallam-Peel,
a former debutante, who works as an attorney
and runs a company called The London Season.
reportedly asked Hallam-Peel to “keep the Season alive”
prior to his death in 2001.
She began touring London’s elite private day schools
and selecting students as debutante recruits.
The modern ball’s focus shifted from entering high society
to teaching business skills, networking, etiquette,
and fundraising for charities.
While originally exclusive to members
of the British nobility and gentry,
the ball now includes debutantes from the British upper middle class
and from foreign countries.
Debutantes are required to be preparing for
or already enrolled at a university.
The debutantes are also required to partake
in the traditional London season,
They are trained in etiquette
that involves protocol and diplomacy,
seating arrangements, invitations, gifts,
flag protocol, honours and decorations,
The ball, no longer hosted by the monarch,
is officially hosted by John Seymour, 19th Duke of Somerset,
and Judith-Rose, Duchess of Somerset,
with Princess Katarina of Yugoslavia and
Rather than curtsey to a monarch,
the debutantes curtsey to the birthday cake itself.
Each year one debutante is selected as “Debutante of the Year”
and she cuts the cake with a ceremonial sword.
Since its revival, the ball has been hosted at
The Queen Charlotte’s Ball partnered with
the Shanghai International Debutante Ball
to organize its events from 2012 until 2016.
became the first Malaysians to make their debut
at Queen Charlotte’s Ball.
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