When I get Rich, I Shall Wear Purple

Why Is the Color Purple Associated With Royalty?

By Remy Melina, Life’s Little Mysteries Staff Writer
03 June 2011 4:06 PM ET
Credit: Ayla87 | sxc.huCredit: Ayla87

The color purple has been associated with royalty, power and wealth for centuries. In fact, Queen Elizabeth I forbad anyone except close members of the royal family to wear it. Purple’s elite status stems from the rarity and cost of the dye originally used to produce it.

Purple fabric used to be so outrageously expensive that only rulers could afford it. The dye initially used to make purple came from the Phoenician trading city of Tyre, which is now in modern-day Lebanon. Fabric traders obtained the dye from a small mollusk that was only found in the Tyre region of the Mediterranean Sea.

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