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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Diamonds, dance classes and dramas at the debutante ball: Behind-the-scenes at London's most prestigious society event


Debutante Alice Palmer is told off for walking too fast by former debutante Patricia Woodall as she rehearses. The girls make a grand entrance walking in one by one and are judged on their posture, elegance and pace

Prince Philip dubbed it 'bloody daft' and critics say that the idea of debutantes presenting themselves to the aristocracy is outdated and elitist, but for certain sections of British society the Queen Charlotte's Ball is the ultimate summer event.
Dubbed the 'crowning event of the London Season' the guest list is hand-picked with care: only young women from the richest families are invited to the September ball where, after months of careful preparation and spending over £2500 on each ticket, the young debutantes are able to show off their skills in poise and elegance.

Debutantes Maria Austin, Amelia Simmons, Sophie Bonello, Zoe Rawson, and Georgina Riddle (L-R) attend a dress-fitting for Queen Charlotte's Ball in central London

In the past debutante balls were seen as a rite of passage for the young women of the upper classes, an opportunity to introduce themselves to society and seek out a potential suitor, but for today's debutantes the Season is seen as an opportunity to wear a designer gown, party their way around Europe, and do a little something for charity.

The debutantes, all hand-picked girls from rich backgrounds, rehearse their entrance to the ball dressed in couture gowns

Queen Charlotte's Ball was introduced by King George III in 1780 as a way to celebrate his wife’s birthday, and a huge cake was one of the highlights.
Up until 1958, young debutantes used to be presented to the Queen at Buckingham Palace, until Prince Philip pointed out that it was ‘bloody daft’.
Today the 'daft' debutantes, all aged between 17 and 20, follow the traditional Queen Charlotte's cake in to the ballroom where the girls perform special curtsies to the nine-tier-high gateaux before being judged on their posture, elegance and pace by the room.

Brunette Talitha Piggott was named Debutante of the Year at Queen Charlotte's Ball on September 14, 2012

The event involves meetings with aristocracy, etiquette classes, and charity fund-raising, and the 'deb of the year' is chosen according to 'who has worked hardest’ during fund-raising activities throughout the season and shown the most enthusiasm (she is usually the prettiest too, although that is not an official judging requirement).

Debutante Rebecca Cliffe collapses giggling in the spacious ladies' after practising her waltz in the ladies toilets

The young women spend months preparing for their dramatic entrance in to the ballroom and go to several dress fittings to make sure their couture gowns cling perfectly.
Prior to the event older debutantes are on hand to guide and critique the girls on their dress, dancing and pace around the ballroom and on the day an army of professional hair and make-up artists are on hand to make sure that the girls are glowing, setting off perfectly coiffed up 'dos with diamond studded tiaras and precious jewellery.

The ball coordinator helps up debutante Zoe Rawson who has just started studying geography at Edinburgh University and is travelling to Dubai, New York and Shanghai over the coming year for a string of debutante events

And on the night, once the deb of the year award has been handed out - this year Talitha Piggott won the accolade - the girls are free to dance the night away with their families, friends and the handsome male guests, dubbed the 'Debs' delights'.

source: dailymail

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