Helena Bonham Carter in Vivienne Westwood

Posted on February 24, 2012

Helena got pinned for the British Empire and went full-on Brit-crazy for the occasion.

Helena Bonham Carter received a Commander of the British Empire (CBE) Medal at Buckingham Palace in a red tartan Vivienne Westwood ensemble.


We love that she showed up at Buckingham palace looking a bit like a Victorian-era streetwalker.

Pardon our breach of decorum, but how fucking cute is this picture?

Do you think Betty said anything about Helena’s portrayal of her mother? Or did she just mumble “Quite nice tits” at her?


[Photo Credit: Getty]

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  • The over-the-top cute of Betty and the BUSTLE!!! almost cancel out the weird fit/wrinkliness of the jacket.

    • Right? She HAS to have had this made for her – why could they not have done a better job?

      It’s still pretty awesome, though!

    • If everything didn’t look so sloppy, I’d agree that the bustle is/would have been super cute.  But as it is, just looks like her skirt is stuck in her panties…

      •  This is Helena Bonham Carter we are talking about… she may have intentionally tucked it in her knickers.

        • brora

           Agreed. She may even have discussed it with Dame Vivienne first. We can expect ‘Knicker-Frock by Westwood’ this Autumn.

    • mrspeel2

      I think on a scale of 1 to 10 on the Hele As to her jacket, I don’t think it’s really wrinkly. It looks more like it’s the way she’s standing, with her shoulders sort of pushed forward, to get her medal ever closer to the camera no doubt!

      • That doesn’t explain the weird fit in the armscye, though, or how sloppy the sleeves look in the pic when she’s getting pinned. I’m down with deliberately too-long sleeves as a statement, but that coupled with how baggy they are just makes it look like the jacket doesn’t fit her right.

        • baxterbaby

          You are so right about that.  HBC would have looked so much more chic (while preserving her battiness) if the jacket had fit properly and she ditched the sad looking cami underneath.

        • kimmeister

          Huh, I just learned a new word – armscye.  I vow to use that in a sentence in the next month . . .

        •  I think this might be something HBC had in her closet already, it looks vaguely familiar. And so maybe it didn’t fit like it did back when she first got it?

  • h123456

    Thanks for giving me something to chuckle about today!~ 

  • mjude

    great photo of betty & helena! 

  • I was wondering when you guys were going to go for this – LOVE that she wears whacky stuff, not enough people do IMNSHO!

  • halleygee

    The last photo is so perfect I can forgive the first two.

  • I was so hoping you would feature this photo. HBC rocks. I can’t decided who I like more – her or Betty. 

  • I love it except the jacket doesnt quite seem to fit her right. 

  • StillGary

    Love that little Eliza Dolittle weirdo — She’s really the UK’s Sharon Stone — but I don’t see Sharon ever getting accomodated.

  • serenitynow02

    The Queen must be thinking “I can’t believe I have to pin a bloody ribbon on this little upstart tart.”

    I love the Artful Dodger hat. But I am pretty sure that Helena can afford a tailor who can adjust the jacket that does not fit her correctly. 

    •  HBC looks like a Victorian prostitute, but she’s actually quite well-born.  Her great-grandfather was an earl and Prime Minister at the turn of the century, and there are a lot of other posh and important people in her family background (they list them all at Wikipedia, if you’re interested).  Her Majesty is probably inwardly rolling her eyes at yet another aristocratic girl who is choosing to slum it.

  • LUV HER!

  • Oh, I was having a crappy Friday, and these pics cheered me right up. God bless Betty and HBC.

    • Cathy S

       Me too! It totally turned around my day.

  • BigWhiteGrannyPanties

    Why is the Queen dressed as if she just escaped some kind of Institution? Is there a name for the color she’s wearing?

    • Kayceed

      Greige – I have heard tell of this arcane color (a blend of gray and beige) – in my fashion books from the early ’60s, when it was quite popular – but have not actually seen it deployed in modern times. Thank you, your Royal Highness!

      • brora

         ‘Your Majesty’.

        ‘Your Royal Highness’ is for princes and princesses of the blood – and, usually, their spouses.

    • serenitynow02

      Is there a name for the color she’s wearing?

      Yes. Oatmeal Death.

    • dress_up_doll

      Institution green? Either that or cement. It actually looks kinda comfy though.

      • Melvis Velour

        Sorta reminds me of the colors (or colours if we’re going over the top here) of the walls back in reform school…

    • kingderella

      its sage.

      although, if i was a fashion editor, i would instruct my staff to call it ‘oatmeal death’ ^^

      • tinyredlocks

        “oatmeal death”. Love….

    • BrooklynBomber

      Early Mold?

    • My recent CB2 catalog is also calling it “greige.” The whole catalog is full of ugly brownish grey furniture. Thank God they still have a few lovely blaze orange pieces, or the exercise would be just too depressing. Restoration Hardware, for instance, seems to stock nothing but greige furniture these days. I agree that the trend is godawful.

    • NCDFan

      This color was probably selected for it’s excellent contrast with both her hair and skin. It makes her skin look just a little pink and healthy and her hair look exceptionally white. (My grandmother had a couple of dresses in like color and touted it’s beneficial effects.)

      • MissKimP

        Agreed.  Also, nice contrast to her surroundings (including HCB).

      • BigWhiteGrannyPanties

        I see your point but wouldn’t something like a royal blue (pardon the pun) also have the same effect without making her look as if she rolled in putty?  I love it that your grandmother talked about color and how it looked on her.  My grandmother just wrung her hands and said “oh girl” alot.  But this was in the south, so ’nuff said.

        • Corsetmaker

          I think with the Queen context is everything. When she’s on outside engagements she wears lots of colour, and often really bright shades, so that she can be seen in a crowd. But in the palace environment she won’t want to clash with the reds and golds of the surroundings and she doesn’t need the same tricks to stand out. Also, the honours ceremonies are quite serious, lots of recipients are there for very worthy and deserving work. 

    • cakesandale

      Royalty is an institution, isn’t it? That bustle makes HBC look like she has a giant wedgy. 

    • tripletmom96

       “greige” is a very fitting description of the color, but i remember it being called “taupe”… it is actually a fairly universally flattering color, although extremely bland.

      but i LOVE the pic of the two of them.  HBC is really adorable here.  yes, the dress does not quite seem to fit her correctly and i’m not sure why it wouldn’t have been made to order or altered appropriately, but it’s nice to see HBC wear something a little subdued without losing the entire essence of what makes her so entertaining in the fashion world…. 

      • alyce1213

        I’ve always liked a good taupe.  It’s a great neutral, especially for shoes, and so much finer and richer looking than the fleshy putties and “nudes” of the past few years.  It can be dull, but used appropriately – love. I also love bone.

  • Hilarious. Thank you.

  • gsk241

    Oh, HBC, I do love you so!  Don’t ever change!

  • MissMariRose

    She looks freakin’ adorable. Good on her for remaining true to her fashion sense when meeting the queen.

  • Ha!  I love the bustle!

  • NurseEllen

    She is adorable, a real character, and bless her for not ditching her essence to look all formal and stuffy.  What a great photo!  Thanks, TLo, for sharing.

  • Clueless_Jock

    Perfection. Love the hat.

  • Jessi03

    Love huh!

  • Of course she wore a tiny top hat. Of course. (Irrational love for them both, btw.)

  • kingderella

    guys this is a WERQ!

  • schadenfreudelicious

    i’m hoping the two of them went out for gin and a smoke afterwards…..:)

  • I shouldn’t love it, but I really do. The hat really tops it all off.

  • twocee

    I adore both of them, so that last picture is fantastic.

    There’s another pic of HBC standing with Tim Burton, who looks positively SEDATE for once.  

    • mommyca

      I was going to mention that the pic with her husband looked super adorable….. 

      • twocee

         They are one of the few “famous” couples that I would kill to have dinner with.  If I was a Hollywood star, I would DEMAND to be sat near HBC at the awards shows.

  • butterflysunita

    I think HBC looks kind of fabulous.  

  • EEKstl

    LOVE the bustle and heels combo, and what a great pic! Thanks for sharing and Congrats to HBC!

  • snarkykitten

    wow. she doesn’t look like she rolled in shit

    shocked and amazed

  • SewingSiren

    Love her.

  • BrooklynBomber

    The picture of Helena and the Queen is priceless. And how fabulous that the British tradition of embracing eccentrics means HBC gets a CBE.

  • Addicted2Glamour

    Bow down, bitches, and take notes. Quite a few of these young ones who like to *try* to bring the cray-cray to the fashion table (and you know who are you) could take a lesson or two from HBC.  

    • twocee

       I think that’s because most of the young’uns equate cray-cray with burnt out stripper.

  • She looks great, nice to see that she always true to her style. It would be nice to see other celeb take some risk.

  • tinyredlocks

    This is one of her saner looking outfits. I love it!

  • Synnamin

    LOVE! This makes me very happy.

  • I’m choosing to believe The Queen mumbled, “quite nice tits, ” because that makes my morning.

  • SublimatedRage

    That second photo is I think the best photo of HBC ever —- She is adorable!  Quite nice tits, indeed!

  • the only things that bug me about this are: there is a VERY visible discrepancy in the front of the bodice, the two halves of what should be that front curve at the bottom do not line up and it’s making my eyes twitch.  Also, the bustle draping in the back is reminding me (unfortunately) of what happens when you exit a ladies’ room without checking to make certain you have not tucked the bottom of the skirt into the back of your panties by mistake.  Otherwise it’s cute and totally in character. LOVE the picture of HM the queen with the new CBE, funny that the ribbon on which the medal is mounted is all but disappearing into the jacket.

  • I was reading about this yesterday.  HBC took her kids to the ceremony.  When they were leaving, she had her cell phone in her hand and a reporter asked if it had gone off.  She cracked, “No, but the four-year-old did.”  I would love to see that.  

  • judybrowni

    Love that the dress has a hint of a bustle at the back.

  • jw_ny

    Helena and The Queen do look absolutely adorable!  

  • tallgirl1204

    So, if this was a project runway dress from last night’s episode, who would have made it, and would they have been on top or bottom? 

    • brora

      Mondo with an assist from Jeffery Sebabalia.

      Michel Kors verdict: ‘She looks like the fifth victim of Jack the Ripper after an explosion in Highland Shortbread factory’.

      Nina Garcia verdict: ‘Fit issues’.

      Heidi verdict: ‘I am not loffink zer Briddish egzentricity!’.

  • MoHub

    Can someone identify the clan that tartan belongs to?

    • Corsetmaker

      I could be wrong (there are thousands) but it’s similar to a Stuart variant, to Anderson and to Bruce. Vivienne Westwood designs her tartans with Lochcarron of Scotland and has quite a few designs of her own registered. 

      • MoHub

        Thanks. We used to have a Scots pub here—just closed its doors for good—with a massive display of tartans hanging from the ceiling, but there were no identifying tags on any of them. The only ones I can recognize on sight are Black Watch and Royal Stewart.

  •  This is Vivienne Westwood…the poor fit could be intentional.

  • NCDFan

    Pardon my ignorance but do we now refer to her as Lady Helena?

    • brora

       Nope. If she ever gets a knighthood – the next step up – she would be known as ‘Dame Helena Bonham-Carter’.

  • Sigh – the sleeves are too long; the gorge of the jacket is too low. You’d think they’d have done the alterations for her … but no. However, the pic of Her Betty-ness peering through her bi (or are they tri) focals to pin the medal on with Helena B-C looking at her own shoulder has to be the cutest picture of the day. Period. And I feel sure that HRH said nice things to H B-C about how she portrayed the Queen Mum in “The King’s Speech”. Because she DID do a lovely job.

  • ChaquitaPhilly

    Say what you will, the photo with the Queen is absolutely adorable. Bravo!

  • TheOriginalLulu

    Here’s what I hate about HBC’s style of dressing: I suspect that there’s a really cute bod underneath all that crap, but she does nothing to highlight it. She has a very pretty face with interesting and unusual features, but that also gets lost in the midst of all the crazy clothes and the hangover hairstyle. I know a lot of people think she looks cool, but I just think she looks like a mess all the time.

    • I suspect this is just her.  She chooses to be unconventional, because she actually is.  Unlike a lot of the young starlets who wear odd things just to get attention, or to show how “edgy” they are. 

      • TheOriginalLulu

        I do see what you’re saying; it’s just that she frustrates me to no end. Unconventional is one thing. Hell, look at Tilda Swinton. Nobody is more unconventional than her, yet she always looks sharp and striking. HBC just always looks rumpled and a little bit like the crazy lady next door.

  • She reminds me of the aunt at Thanksgiving who would get into the bourbon and start whispering embarrassing stories about your dad to you over dessert.

  • She reminds me of the aunt at Thanksgiving who would get into the bourbon and start whispering embarrassing stories about your dad to you over dessert.

    • BigWhiteGrannyPanties


  • They are both so tiny and cute.  I knew HBC was short but the Queen is standing on a step and has modest heels and they are head to head.  I want to hug them.

  • Terence Ng

    I’m sure it was more like “Gurl ur tits b slammin’! Here, have this medal. U earned it with that awesome boobage.”

    • TheOriginalLulu

      I’m sitting here imagining how that would sound in a British accent and I can’t control the giggles.

  • newleaf1

    So cute, so whackadoodle!

  • alyce1213

    Absolutely crazy adorable.  
    (I’m never a fan of the peek-a-boo-bra look, but she’s doing it with enormous restraint, and it’s fine.)

  • Oh man do I love her! I feel like Vivienne Westwood’s clothes are designed just for her in mind. Lovely & fabulous. Adorable photo of her and the Queen. 

  • brora

    She is great and can be very beautiful when she wants to be but I’m getting tired of her Kathy from Wuthering Heights-crossed-with-Miss Havisham dress sense. There are other designers besides Westwood, you know. No, NOT Jean-Paul Gaultier.

  • Judy_J

    Don’t you just love Queen Elizabeth’s sensible shoes?

    • brora

      I believe those kind of shoes are actually called – some realy fahionista can help me out here – ‘court shoes’.

      • yetanotherLaura

         Court shoes is just the British term for what Americans call pumps.  The only notable thing about the Queen’s shoes is the square heel, which apparently she’s found helps her stand for long periods, so you’ll see that all her shoes have the square heel, never a point. 

  • aimee_parrott

    “We love that she showed up at Buckingham palace looking a bit like a Victorian-era streetwalker.”

    LOL, actually the only thing that keeps it from being full-on Victorian-era streewalker is the too-short length of the skirt, and the too-high heels.  The hat is pure magic.

  • joe_tey83

    “Do you think Betty said anything about Helena’s portrayal of her mother?”
    – Exactly what I’m thinking.

  • I was just watching the AfFab where HBC played Edina’s dream version of Saffy. I think it was probably her most “normal” role ever!

  • crash1212

    HBC is a beautiful woman and I love her. That is all.

  • BeeBeauNYC

    No one brings the Whack to Whack-A-Doo like HBC! 

  • LesYeuxHiboux

    It’s official. I love HBC.

  • HBC is freaking amazing.  I’m glad she wore matching shoes for the occasion.  And I love this ON HER. No one else could pull it off. 

  • Glammie

    I love the way the outfit’s both totally insane and totally appropriate–she’s covered, wearing a hat, wearing a British designer, wearing heels that make her lapel high enough so that it’s an easy reach for the Queen, and the colors of the tartan go with the color of the OBE ribbon.

    And yet it’s still insane.  I love you, HBC.

  • That pic of the Queen and HBC is Britain in a nutshell – makes me miss home like crazy…

  • Pants_are_a_must

    That last photo is the best thing I’ve seen all week.

  • julnyes

    My love for HBC continues unabated.

  • J’adore her makeup!!!

  • Bless her. I adore HBC. So glad she got an award so we could see those pics.

  • hey there is a reason her initials are HBC 

  • MilaXX

    Love her and all her wackiness.

  • funkypeanut

    Oh, HBC, you crazy Victorian tart! It must be strange to get an award from a woman who’s 40 years your senior but whose mother you just played in a movie.
    Betty: Mama!
    HBC: One cup of cocoa for you, young lady, and then it’s off to bed!
    Betty: But Mama…
    HBC: No buts! I have to be Bella LeStrange at a comic convention in three hours, so I don’t have time to argue!

  • Amy Ellinger

    Odd fit aside, she’s gorgeously wonderfully whackadoodle.  I will never not adore HBC!!!

  • SapphoPoet

    Congrats to HBC!

    Overall, I like the idea of this outfit. The top looks a bit big or unfitted, but she does match the carpets quite nicely. LOVE the bustle and the hat. I want to be her when I grow up.  

  • Jenny Moss

    I love. Vivienne Westwood can do no wrong in my book. And the skirt is MEANT to look like that. *rolls eyes*

  • Too freakin’ cute. 

  • Warmheartedgirl Seattle

    I love that HBC didn’t bring out the full cray-cray for the Queen.  Just enough.  Not over the top.  And the pic of her with the Queen IS adorable.

  • Lattis

    The pic with the Queen is lovely. 

    It makes me smile how at home HBC and her whole outfit look with the Queen, the guards in dress uniform, the red carpet, the gilt walls, the seats with the red satin stripe, gilding and fringe. It’s definitely (ehem) “the right dress for the right girl,”  and in the right room to boot.

  • Corsetmaker

    I love HBC, I love Vivienne Westwood and I love this outfit. It’s hard to say much about the fit as her posture is awful and the weight of the honour is dragging it a bit too. The sleeves look intentionally long, like extended shirt cuffs. However it is a bit rumpled but I don’t think Helena would lift an iron for anyone, not even the Queen. She’s had her hair done, that’s major effort from a woman that often forgets about the existance of hairbrushes 😀

    • SayWTH

      I’m also wondering if she diden’t have the proper undergarments for the outfit as the top is sagging in the chest. Then again it could just be the lack of proper posture. But somehow, I think it is the undergarments (or lack thereof?) fault.

      Love the Queen as she totally reminds me of my Grandma. Same hairstyle, shoes, dresses etc. and my Grandma passed away in 1980.

      • Corsetmaker

        You could well be right. She does look in need of a decent bra! which would affect the whole fit. 
        Predictable of me to say it, but Viv should’ve given her a matching corset for that, it might’ve helped her stand up straight.

        Yes, she reminds me of my gran too. I fully expect her to smell of Max Factor Cream Puff face powder and Touch of Silver setting lotion 🙂

  • Insanely adorable.

  • judybrowni

    If anyone could bring the bustle back, it would be HBC.

  • irielle

    I like to imagine that deep inside Queen Elizabeth II there’s a wee bit of a wild thing who would secretly trade places with Helena Bonham Carter for a weekend.

  • Truly_Outrageous

    “Do you think Betty said anything about Helena’s portrayal of her mother?”


  • PeaceBang

    And the saucy chapeau. Oh, it’s just all too delicious. LOVE.

  • Anathema_Device

    Love these pictures so much.

    The cross-legged pose is bad enough under regular circumstances, but it is so freaky when women do it in long skirts! Looks like their feet are on the wrong legs.

  • butter nut

    she’s the only person in the world who could wear this. and she looks fantastic.

  • There have been a number of bustles on the red carpet and other events the past few months.  I doubt that they are coming back for us mere mortals, but it is interesting to see them back for anyone. 

  • Sweetbetty

    “The Queen must be thinking ‘I can’t believe I have to pin a bloody ribbon on this little upstart tart’.”

    I understand the humor here but it got me thinking…how does one get chosen for such an award?  Do you submit your name yourself or must someone highly placed in the monarchy submit names?  Does the queen get final approval?

    • Corsetmaker

      No not yourself. People are nominated then chosen by government committee. Only some high up orders are at the Queen’s discretion. There’s quite a list twice a year. My grandfather got an honour for his work, but didn’t get the chance to go to the Palace as it was the Silver Jubilee and she was too busy to do it herself that year.

  • Zippypie

    *I bow down*

  • The length is a bit off, or maybe the shoes are a bit wrong, I’m not sure, but I’m not complaining. This is as well done as Ms Bonham-Carter gets.  And that last photo..AW! Cuter than a basket of kittens.  

  • Patricia Gillett

    If there’s one person on the planet that CAN pull off “Victorian Streetwalker” – it’s Helena. That is is HER dress. No one else’s.

    • Lisa

      When you’re right, you’re right!

  • unbornfawn

    LOVE her!

  • holdmewhileimnaked

    great outfit, worn well. amazing, in fact, that she made the length work on someone so little. thats hard to do. then again, it’s vivienne westwood.

  • xmixiex


  • prettybigkitty


  • quiltrx

    She looks freaking adorable!  Glad that she’s being recognized for the treasure she is.  And how adorable are she and Betty in that pic?

    I hope they both grabbed their quirky purses and went out on the town after.

  • bitterk

    She’s one of a kind

  • BookishBren

    This actually seems a bit tame for her. 

  • formerlyAnon


    It looks as if the Queen is her granny, adjusting some small detail, having decided it’s Mom’s job to critique the total look – Granny can just be indulgent.

  • akprincess72

    I love how in the third picture you get a glimpse of Helena’s grin.   I like that she isn’t blase’ about the honor & looks to be genuinely pleased.  

    Queen Betty I always love, she can do no wrong in my eyes, she’s just a cutie!

  • ziarah

    How tall/short is the queen? Because she’s standing on something and she and HBC are essentially at eye level. 

    • Mike Winget

      According to http://projectbritain.com/theQueenfacts.htm  the Queen is 5 ft 4 inches.. so not short at all.   HBC by contrast is 5 ft 2 inches.  So, HBC must have on some serious platforms there to be at eye level with Betty, when The Queen is on a step.  

      • Corsetmaker

        I think she’s smaller than that, looking at her. Remember she’s 85. The 5’4″ might’ve been from her younger years, but most people lose a few inches with age. Prince Phillip is a lot shorter than he used to be too. He was around, or just over the 6′ mark when he was younger but he looked considerably shorter than Obama on the recent visit here.

  • Maddie_Faddenoid

    I love bustles. Love them. It’s great to see HBC & Vivienne employing one. Other designers take note!

  • Pterodactyl111

    I love it.

  • I just love this.

  • GorgeousThings

    LOVE! Both of them. Betty and Helen, that is, not the tits.

  • miwome

    If only the jacket didn’t eliminate her waist, I would be so very happy about all of this. HBC is a COMMANDER, can we talk about this?

  • It would be so nice if occasionally people would show respect and be appropriate to the moment.

  • The concept is good but the tailoring and manufacture are appalling.