During Kate’s 40th birthday, Kensington Palace unveiled a trio of fresh pictures of her by Italian photographer Paolo Roversi. The official black and white portrait shows Kate wearing an off-the-shoulder gown with bow accents. The elegant cut and her side posture gave people a new impression of the future Queen consort of England, sending the fashion buzz worldwide . The media claims her photo resembled Cecil Beaton’s 1949 portrait of the Queen’s late sister Margaret, which was taken during her 19th birthday.
However, most mainstream media might not be aware that there is another royal that Kate resembles even more from this photo: Empress Sisi of Austria.
The picture of Empress Sisi of Austria which Ludwig Minnigerode, an Austrian painter, painted of Elisabeth, Empress of Austria is similar. The fine oil painting is part of the Royal Collection Trust. During Christmas, in 1874, Emperor Francis Joseph presented Queen Victoria with a copy of the painting after she requested one to commemorate the Austrian Empress’ visit.
In this rich colored oil portrait, Sisi was dressed in a lovely ensemble, with long beautiful chestnut hair. While in one of Paolo Roversi’s photographs, Kate is dressed in a custom white dress under her luxurious long hair. They were both taken from the side, with the white dress coming off the shoulder. The two pictures were taken 150 years apart, but made a striking resemblance in their pose, dress, hair styles, and figures.
Though she had given birth to four children, Sisi was able to preserve her beauty throughout her lifetime. So has Kate, after have given birth to three children. The modern English royal rarely talks about her lifestyle and beauty secrets. But from historical royal records, we now can learn more about Sisi.
Elisabeth (Sisi) was Emperor Franz Joseph I’s Empress of Austria and Queen of Hungary. She is a member of the Bavarian royal House of Wittelsbach. She was given the nickname Sisi and was raised in the countryside before marrying Emperor Franz Joseph I at the age of sixteen. The marriage placed her into a formal Habsburg court life that was not what she had been used to.
Elisabeth was a prolific reader, and spoke fluent English and French and supplemented her Hungarian education with Greek.
She used makeup and perfume sparingly, preferring to let her inherent beauty shine through. On the other hand, she tried various beauty items created either in the court pharmacy or by her lady-in-waiting in order to maintain her beauty. She seemed to enjoy “Crème Céleste” (a mixture of white wax, spermaceti, sweet almond oil, and rosewater), but also used a variety of face tonics and waters.
Along with her strenuous fitness program, Elisabeth engaged in strenuous beautification rituals. Daily maintenance of her voluminous and exceptionally long hair, which evolved from dark blonde to chestnut brown over time, required at least three hours. Franziska Feifalik, her hairdresser, was formerly a theatrical hairdresser at the Wiener Burgtheater. Elisabeth’s extravagant hairstyles were created by her, and she often accompanied her on her travels. When Sisi’s hair was cleansed every two weeks with a mixture of eggs and cognac, all activities and commitments were canceled for that day.
After the age of thirty-two, she determined that she did not want her public image of immortal beauty to be questioned. As a result, she declined to pose for more pictures or photos. The few photographs shot without her permission depict a lady who is graceful, yet almost too slim.
Elisabeth never recovered from the 1889 murder–suicide of her only son and his lover Mary Vetsera at their hunting lodge in Mayerling. She resigned from her judicial responsibilities and traveled extensively alone, unaccompanied by her family. In 1890, she commissioned the construction of a mansion on the Greek island of Corfu, which she often visited. Achilleion, a castle with an ornate mythical design, functioned as a mini haven.
In 1897, Elisabeth’s sister, Duchess Sophie in Bavaria, perished in a fire at the Paris charity event Bazar de la Charité. Sisi was stabbed and died in 1898 while traveling through Geneva by an Italian anarchist called Luigi Lucheni. Elisabeth served as Austria’s Empress for 44 years. Austrians hosted an extraordinary funeral to say goodbye to their last Empress.