In northeast London, inside a building with an unassuming concrete facade, dozens of people are hard at work cutting, stitching and redesigning the royal uniforms of a new era.
Kashket & Partners, a garment factory in Tottenham, has been making uniforms for the royal family for about as long as Queen Elizabeth II was on the throne. The company made the ensembles Prince Harry and William wore on their wedding day. It’s responsible for the crisp scarlet tunics guards wear outside Buckingham Palace and the Yeoman Warders’ costumes at the Tower of London.
With the queen’s death — and all the pomp and ceremony that comes with it — there is much to be done. Uniforms must be made for the pallbearers tasked with carrying the coffin during her funeral Monday. Royal insignia must eventually be changed, from E II R, signifying Elizabeth II, to C III R, signifying the new king, Charles III.
It’s meticulous work: Uniforms are individually tailored and require 26 different measurements for a proper fit. Workers weave real gold into some of the finery.
The company has a long history of manufacturing royal garments. Before moving to England in the 1920s, Alfred Kashket, a Russian Jew, made felt hats for czar Nicholas II. In London he carried on the family tailoring trade, swiftly building a reputation for quality and the close royal and military links that would come to define Kashket & Partners. The name Kashket derives from a hat that became closely identified with the Russian Jewish community.
Much like the British monarchy, tradition and family are central to Kashket’s craft and identity. Today Alfred’s descendants run the place. His grandsons, Marlon and Russel Kashket, have been working there for more than 40 years; Russel’s son Nathan, 24, oversees the operations.
They employ more than 30 people, many of them immigrants.
Albert Adusei, originally from Ghana, has worked at the factory for 30 years. He is the head of trouser production and a master tailor.
Timmy Ha, originally from Vietnam, came to Britain when he was a teenager and has worked at the factory for 20 years. He’s now the company’s head cutter.
James Forde/For The Washington Post
At a time of change for Britain, and the death of the only monarch Kashket & Partners has ever known, Nathan believes there will be stability in his company’s future.
“I see the family business running on for many more generations,” he said.
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Photos by James Forde. Writing by Ruby Mellen. Production by Chloe Coleman and Reem Akkad.