15 September 2016

Flashback: State Visit from France, 1960

When we covered Princess Marie Louise's Diamond Sunburst Brooch recently, some of you noted that Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother had also worn it during a French state visit. Absolutely correct - and it wasn't the only unusual jewel selection made during that state visit.

Video: On the Buckingham Palace balcony, during the state dinner
President Charles de Gaulle came to London for a state visit in April 1960. The Queen was just returning to public engagements after Prince Andrew's birth; Princess Margaret was recently engaged to Antony Armstrong-Jones. The state visit aimed to impress the French leader by pulling out every last bit of available pomp and circumstance, including an unusual stop on the Buckingham Palace balcony during the state dinner for fireworks and a wave to the crowds.

While The Queen wore favorite pieces - the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara and Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Necklace - The Queen Mother conveyed the importance of the visit by wearing her crown! Without the arches and cap, the crown made for the 1937 coronation becomes a terribly important circlet (she also wore it in this fashion at The Queen's coronation). As though that wasn't enough, all five strands of the Greville Festoon Necklace sparkled around her neck.

These old state visits included multiple tiara events, of course. Next up was dinner at the French embassy:
And we have here another classic pairing from Her Majesty: Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara and the George VI Festoon Necklace.

The last event was a tiara-filled gala ballet performance, where it was The Queen's turn to make an unusual selection.
The George IV State Diadem, worn outside of the State Opening of Parliament and/or portrait sittings! And paired with the George VI Sapphire Suite and the True Lover's Knot Brooch. Magnificent.

Continuing the splendor, The Queen Mother wore the Greville Tiara, the Greville Peardrop Earrings, a couple strands of diamond collets, and the aforementioned Diamond Sunburst Brooch. Note that not only is The Queen wearing France's Order of the Legion of Honour, so is The Queen Mother. She didn't wear too many foreign orders.

Princess Margaret doubled up on her tiaras, which is never a bad strategy. She wore the Lotus Flower Tiara in her hair (it's showcased beautifully in the video below) and the Poltimore Tiara as a necklace.

Video: The Royal Opera House event begins at 4:32
And so many more! There are additional royals and jewels to spot in the video above, so go ahead and bask in the splendor of this extra special state visit. It may have been the most significantly bejeweled of The Queen's reign.

Photos: via Getty Images as indicated, AP/British Pathe screencaps

08 September 2016

Flashback: The Wedding of Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy, 1963

From those of you who have visited the fashion exhibition at Buckingham Palace during this year's summer opening, I've heard consistent praise - and surprise - regarding one outfit in particular: The Queen's ensemble for the wedding of Princess Alexandra of Kent and the Hon. Angus Ogilvy, which was held on April 24, 1963 at Westminster Abbey. Indeed, in the event that you are able to pull yourself from the yards of lace in the bride's John Cavanagh gown - and then pull yourself from whatever is going on with Princess Margaret's hat/hair situation after that (watch the video above, you'll see) - what you'll find is The Queen beating Elie Saab at his own game, decades before he had a game.

British Pathé screencaps
Norman Hartnell dressed The Queen for the occasion, creating an eau-de-nil dress with lily of the valley embellishment of silk flowers and embroidery at the waist and a gauzy matching coat with three-quarter length sleeves. The hat, by Simone Mirman, is packed with more of the flowers. Hartnell's work for The Queen is known for its impressive embroidery and beading, but this impresses in the lightness of the outfit as well as the exemplary craftsmanship.

Royal Collection Trust
It's lovely, isn't it? I'm glad we got a closer look at it. Getting a closer look at the jewelry still proves tricky, however. From what we can see, The Queen wore the Teck Corsage Brooch with a larger double strand of pearls (perhaps the Hanoverian pearls; what looks like a significant diamond clasp is visible in the video above). The Queen Mother was also decked out with a triple strand of pearls, the Greville Peardrop Earrings, and Queen Victoria's Fringe Brooch. Classic sparkle all around.

This outfit is on display at Buckingham Palace's summer exhibition, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe, open now through October 2, 2016.

06 September 2016

Princess Marie Louise's Diamond Sunburst Brooch

Princess Marie Louise's Diamond Sunburst Brooch
Princess Marie Louise (1872-1956) was born Princess Marie Louise of Schleswig-Holstein, daughter of Princess Helena and granddaughter of Queen Victoria. She married Prince Aribert of Anhalt in 1891, an ill-fated match that ended with her father-in-law annulling the union without Marie Louise's knowledge while she was out of the country. After that, she returned home on Queen Victoria's orders and there she remained, eventually dropping her German title along with the rest of the Windsors during World War I. "Cousin Louie" was a colorful member of the extended royal family, one who attended the coronation of The Queen in 1953 with her own supply of gin and tonic in hand, leading to her riding back to Buckingham Palace while half hanging out of the carriage window in the rain to wave to the crowds. (One of my favorite coronation stories.)

Princess Marie Louise at The Queen's coronation
Marie Louise was draped in jewels for that coronation, including a diamond sunburst brooch on her shoulder. The brooch has a large round top portion with rays of diamonds radiating from a central diamond cluster, and a similar, smaller version as a pendant beneath. The brooch's exact origin is not known; Royal Magazin points out that there were a few diamond star brooches among Princess Marie Louise's wedding gifts, including from Queen Victoria. The brooch was also worn by Princess Helena Victoria (1870-1948), Marie Louise's sister.

Marie Louise
She never married again, and had no children. When she passed away in 1956, Princess Marie Louise left jewels to multiple of people, including The Queen. The Cartier Indian Tiara went to her godson, Prince Richard, currently The Duke of Gloucester. The Diamond Sunburst Brooch was inherited by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.

The Queen Mother wore the brooch publicly just a couple of times, including for the official family portrait released to mark The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh's 1972 Silver Wedding. Following her 2002 death, it would have passed to The Queen, where it is still waiting for a reappearance on Her Majesty, or as a loan to The Duchess of Cornwall or another family member. The diamond rays of this brooch are very much like those found in popular Russian fringe/kokoshnik tiara designs, and I can't help but think it's aching to be paired up with one of those classic tiara models.

1960: State Visit from France  

Photos: Beaton/Hay Wrightson/Lichfield

03 September 2016

The Braemar Gathering

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of Rothesay, and The Princess Royal, attended the annual Braemar Gathering in Scotland.

Probably the best thing about this outfit - which I love, because purple - is that it often brings the promise of an amethyst brooch. Not for this occasion, though! The Braemar Feather Brooch was Her Maj's Golden Jubilee gift from the Braemar Royal Highland Society, and she's worn it annually ever since.

The purple's still a lovely, fresh contrast to a sea of tartan n' tweed, isn't it?

01 September 2016

The Lotus Flower Tiara

The Lotus Flower Tiara
This tiara, also referred to as the Papyrus Leaf Tiara, originally belonged to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. The Queen Mother gave it to Princess Margaret, who wore it often and also loaned it to her daughter-in-law, Viscountess Linley, as a wedding tiara. Following Princess Margaret's 2002 death, the tiara made its way into The Queen's collection. The Duchess of Cambridge borrowed it for her first tiara event after her wedding, and has worn it again since.

Read more at Order of Splendor.

20 October 2015: State Visit from China, State Banquet
3 December 2013: Diplomatic Reception
1960: State Visit from France (on Princess Margaret)

30 August 2016

The Duchess of Cornwall's Orange Stone and Diamond Brooch

The Duchess of Cornwall wearing her Orange Stone and Diamond Brooch
On the second day of Royal Ascot 2007, The Duchess of Cornwall arrived to the races wearing a lovely embellished cream coat and dress. Her hat was as big as ever, but the real showstopping accessory of the day was the massive brooch pinned on her shoulder. This elegant brooch is centered around a large oval stone of a deep orange color, surrounded by diamond scrolls and dotted with single diamonds.

This, so far, has been the brooch's only known appearance, and details are nonexistent. The type of orange stone is unconfirmed; popular guesses include citrine or maybe a vibrant cairngorm (a wealth of other guesses are represented in the comments below, as well). Provenance is also unconfirmed, but given that a large percentage of Camilla's loaned jewels originated with the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother - combined with the impressive size and antique look of the piece - it may be another previously unknown piece from the late queen consort's stash. For now, I'd just like to see it worn again.

27 August 2016

Flashback: The Wedding of Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips, 1973

Perhaps I have simply been too drawn to Princess Anne’s wedding gown – worn for her first wedding, to Captain Mark Phillips at Westminster Abbey on November 14, 1973 – to really notice what was going on with The Queen’s outfit at this event. After all, the wedding dress by Maureen Baker of Susan Small is a fascinating creation, so striking and unique. The tiara catches my eye too, of course; Anne followed in her mother's footsteps by borrowing Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, one of the best of the classic fringe models.

TrendingNow screencaps
So maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but I always wondered why The Queen’s outfit seemed a more "everyday" choice than outfits she would sport for close family weddings later on. The jewelry, at least, feels that way: the Dorset Bow Brooch would be an unusual choice today, when it is primarily used as a poppy holder, but it was a much more popular selection in her earlier years.

TrendingNow screencaps
(Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, on the other hand, was in full cozy splendor, with what looks to be a diamond clip on her hat and Queen Victoria’s Fringe Brooch on her coat.)

Royal Collection Trust
The Queen's hat was very much typical of the time, designed by Simone Mirman with blue and purple lace draped on the back. On display, however, there is much more to The Queen’s whole outfit than I realized from photos and video of the event.

These pieces are showcases for diamond inset details, precision work from the atelier of Norman Hartnell. Done all in blue silk and emphasized with diamond shapes at the coat fastening, the cuts are subtle enough to fade from afar – and indeed, I never realized they were there, leading to my impression that this was a much plainer outfit than it really was. (But if those insets were in a contrasting color, they’d take this right into harlequin territory, so it was a clever choice.) Just another example of a close up bringing an outfit into a new light.

For more video of the wedding, click here.

This outfit is on display at Buckingham Palace's summer exhibition, Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen's Wardrobe, open now through October 2, 2016.