An unlikely juxtaposition of converging events that would make April 21st 2016 an historic one indeed caused social media chaos when fans mourning Prince’s shock passing at 57 mistook tributes for Queen Elizabeth on occasion of her 90th year as a celebration of the legendary artist’s life. Purple was his trademark hue, the traditional colour of Royalty. And with a birth name of Prince Rogers Nelson, he made it is own with his seminal film and soundtrack, Purple Rain. And with the CN Tower and Niagara Falls already scheduled to be illuminated with purple lights in honour of the Queen’s birthday, it was not surprising that heartbroken fans would assume it was for the Musical Majesty and then decided it was.
— Norm Kelly (@norm) April 22, 2016
To further mix matters, the following day, and after the White House posted their response to Prince’s death, Michelle Obama, accompanying the President, met the Queen and Prince Phillip for lunch at Windsor Castle wearing a purple dress and coat. It was a fraught choice as the dress was by Oscar de la Renta, who before his death had criticized the First Lady for wearing a “casual” cardigan and skirt the first time she met the Queen in 2009, perhaps peeved by the fact that Obama was the only First Lady in decades not to wear his designs. She finally wore one shortly before his death from cancer in 2014, with it speculated that this detente was brokered by their mutual friend, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour.
Meanwhile back at Windsor Castle one can only wonder why Obama, a closely watched fashionista who is a past master of signaling through image, wore the colour at this particular time. Is it because she simply likes it, that she too was honouring the Queen, who President Obama described as “an astonishing person and a jewel to the world,” or that she only wants to see us laughing in the purple rain.