13 October 2017

Investiture at Buckingham Palace

The Queen held an Investiture at Buckingham Palace.
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Let me know if you spy any video of this one for brooch purposes...otherwise, we're in the dark. Update: With thanks to the Royal Spectator, looks like this was most likely the Cullinan V.

12 October 2017

Women's Royal Naval Service 100 Project Reception and Audiences at Buckingham Palace

The Queen and The Princess Royal attended a reception to mark the centenary of the Women's Royal Naval Service and the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps at the Army and Navy Club, London.
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For more: Zimbio gallery.

The Aqua Clips took her to church on her last Balmoral weekend, and now they're taking her right back to business in London. Surprising to see them twice in a row, but more surprising they still haven't been seen all that often this year.

Royal Family

Three Strand Pearl Necklace

The Queen also held audiences at Buckingham Palace today.
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The Queen getting back to her regularly scheduled London business = us getting back to our regularly scheduled brooch squinting business. I'm pretty sure this is the Pearl Triangle. (On another note, she picked up a new treasure today: a silver pumpkin from the Cambodian ambassador!)

Pearl Triangle Brooch

Of course, while all of this qualifies as business as usual, this week brought an announcement of a break in tradition: The Queen won't be laying her own wreath at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday this year. Instead, The Prince of Wales will lay her wreath while The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh watch from a balcony above, as Camilla, Kate, and other members of the Royal Family do.

This will be a significant change but it's one I'm glad to see. Her wreath was already made lighter for her in 2016, and watching her walk backwards down the small steps at the monument after laying it was making me a little nervous last year, you know? Pass it on, and she'll still be present for it all. A good compromise.

29 September 2017

Visit to Aberdeen

The Queen opened the Robertson Family Roof Garden at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and visited the Sue Ryder Dee View Court Neurological Centre, Aberdeen, Scotland.
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Her Maj looked happy to be back in action today, and the feeling is mutual! This is the 2017 debut of the Sapphire Chrysanthemum Brooch, which works really well on this blue tweed.

ITN screencap

Engagements in Scotland always mark the beginning of the end of The Queen's summer break. Next month, she'll be back to London and back to her usual schedule of public engagements.

04 September 2017

Queen Mary's Thistle Brooch

Queen Mary's Thistle Brooch

A new photographic portrait of The Queen was taken in 2010 and unveiled for the Scottish Parliament in 2011, featuring The Queen wearing - for apparently the first time - a unique diamond brooch. The brooch has the appearance of a key from afar, but up close it becomes a diamond thistle with two leaves forming a wreath and a long stem.

The Queen in 2010
Shaun Murawski/Scottish Parliament

Information released with the new portrait identified the long brooch as a diamond thistle that belonged to The Queen's grandmother, Queen Mary. Despite not being worn until 2010, The Queen most likely inherited it along with much of the rest of Queen Mary's jewel collection on her death in 1953.

Queen Mary, with George V and a young Princess Elizabeth, wears the brooch in Scotland

While Queen Mary wore the brooch pinned to one of her signature toque hats, The Queen has thus far worn it only in traditional brooch style on her shoulder. Both queens have capitalized on the thistle association and worn the brooch in Scotland.

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The Queen in 2017

The brooch had to wait seven years for its next outing, at another Scottish occasion. This offers the first real opportunity to see this brooch in full detail. It's really quite beautiful, isn't it? I'd love to see it back in hat use, though that's not something I expect The Queen will ever do.

4 September 2017: Queensferry Crossing Opening

Queensferry Crossing Opening

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, opened the new Queensferry Crossing across the Firth of Forth in Scotland.
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All the world's atwitter over Cambridge Baby #3, and I'm over here just excited by the brooch. It's a rare one for Her Maj today and one we haven't covered here previously! Here's my feature on it.

02 September 2017

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.
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Braemar Feather Brooch: Check. Pearls all around: Check. Family day of fun and giggles: check.

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The only thing we're missing here is Prince Philip's kilt. Otherwise, it's Braemar business as usual!

09 August 2017

The Duchess of Cornwall's Ruby Garland Demi-Parure

We'll finish up our 70th birthday round of features on Camilla's most impressive official gifts with one last addition to the pile...

Eight years after she wore a ruby and diamond necklace so staggeringly opulent it changed the way Clarence House discloses official gifts, The Duchess of Cornwall did it again. Not with the same necklace, mind you; with a completely different, yet no less extravagant, ruby and diamond demi-parure.

The Duchess of Cornwall wears her Ruby Garland Demi-Parure

For the Royal Film Performance of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 2015, The Duchess of Cornwall wore a necklace featuring four strands of diamond garlands adorned with 18 pear-shaped rubies, including four down the center of the necklace in diamond surrounds, and multiple pear-shaped diamond elements. The long matching earrings include more diamond-framed rubies finished with a diamond fringe. A matching ruby and diamond bracelet was also worn.

While the provenance of the Ruby Garland Demi-Parure has not been officially confirmed, my strong suspicion is that it was a gift from the late King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. My guess is based on a few reasons, the first and most obvious being that the complete extravagance of the design screams of the lavish gifts given by Middle Eastern monarchies. Second, the official gift list for a trip by The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to Saudi Arabia in 2013 listed Camilla as receiving a "parure" (with no further details given) from King Abdullah. It's also possible that she received some jewels when the King came to Britain for a state visit in 2007. Third, she debuted this parure shortly after the King passed away, so it could have been worn as a tribute. I also suspect that King Abdullah gave Camilla her Saudi Sapphire Demi-Parure in 2006.

The bracelet from the demi-parure can be seen peeking out from under her sleeve

If these rubies were an official gift, then they are not The Duchess of Cornwall's private property. You can read more about the rules for official gifts in our feature on the Saudi Ruby Demi-Parure.

 So far, the Ruby Garland Demi-Parure has been worn just once. None of her larger necklaces are worn with any regularity, and this will probably not be an exception. The earrings would be nice to see worn more often; her hair covers shorter earrings, making longer models a better choice for her eveningwear, and these are perfect.

17 February 2015: Royal Film Performance of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

05 August 2017

Balmoral Holiday, 2017

By Stuart Yeates from Oxford, UK - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Queen started her annual summer Balmoral holiday in July at Craigowan Lodge on the Balmoral estate, while the castle was still open to the public, followed by taking up official residence at the castle itself in August. Her break usually ends around late September/early October with an engagement or two in Scotland before heading south.

Any appearances by The Queen during her holiday will be gathered in this post. A link for this post will be on the sidebar under Recently Updated Events and it will include the date of the last update, so you can find it any time and don't miss anything. (And if you see I've missed one, help me out and drop a comment below!)


October 8: NEW! One last church outing at Balmoral before heading back to London. The Queen rode to church with Lady Sarah Chatto and wore her Aquamarine Clip Brooches. Photos at the Daily Mail if you're so inclined. 

September 29: Inching back into the public sphere with an engagement in Aberdeen, covered here.

September 24: The Singapore Peranakan Diamond Jubilee Brooch makes a repeat church appearance, and HM recruits Prince William as her car companion.

September 21: Our tour of Balmoral interiors continues (and of Her Maj's signature Scotland casual look, with the same stuff as the previous day), thanks to an audience with Peter Cosgrove, the Governor-General of Australia. Spot the classic iPod on the dock behind them!
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September 20: The Queen received Canada's Governor General Designate Julie Payette, for an audience at Balmoral. This is classic casual QEII: a strand of pearls, Pearl Stud Earrings, Black Strap Watch, Engagement and Wedding Rings. And a Balmoral tartan skirt, of course, because that's the only way to roll.
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September 10: The Saskatchewan Tourmaline Flower Brooch makes an appearance - its first since 2015! - at church.

September 9: The Queen was spotted out riding at Balmoral, pictures at the Express.

September 4: Interrupting the Balmoral holiday for a quick engagement opening the Queensferry Crossing and for a peek at a rare brooch: Queen Mary's Thistle Brooch. 

September 3: Church again, and this time we can see that the brooch on duty is the Flower Basket Brooch.

September 2: Annual appearance at the Braemar Gathering, covered separately here.

August 31: Members of the family were seen driving out of Balmoral on the anniversary of Diana, Princess of Wales' death; here's The Queen. I'll spare you links to articles trying to make a big deal out of the fact that they were at Balmoral just like they were in 1997.

August 27: Another church visit can be seen in this gallery at Rex, but can't identify the brooch.

August 20: Finally, a church-goin' brooch we can identify! The Singapore Peranakan Diamond Jubilee Brooch is on its sixth appearance for 2017. It seems most of the Royal Family is hanging around Balmoral right now, as the church-goin' crowd included The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke of York, The Earl and (I think) Countess of Wessex, and Zara and Mike Tindall. Pictures at the link below and also at the DM.

August 13: The Queen and other members of the Royal Family attended church at Balmoral, in another unidentifiable brooch. Photos at the Daily Mail.

August 7: The traditional welcome ceremony kicks off the start of The Queen's official residence at Balmoral Castle. Her inspection of the Royal Guard included both the Royal Regiment of Scotland Badge - which is getting a lot of mileage this year - and Cruachan IV, the mischievous regimental mascot that tried to take a bite out of Her Maj's flowers at their last meeting.
Army in Scotland
Army in Scotland

August 6: Church at Balmoral, in an unidentifiable brooch. [Facebook] 

August 5: The Queen made a surprise appearance at the Aboyne Highland Games to mark its 150th anniversary. She wore her Diamond Art Deco Double Clip Brooch. [STV]

July 30: Church at Balmoral, wearing what appears to be an emerald brooch - maybe the Round Cambridge Emerald without its pendant, but it's impossible to say for certain. [Daily Mail]

July 23: Church at Balmoral in the Greville Scroll Brooch.

31 July 2017

The Pearl and Diamond Leaf Brooch

Attending the commemorations for the centenary of the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium, The Duchess of Cambridge wore a brooch borrowed from The Queen's jewel vault. The Pearl and Diamond Leaf Brooch is a large piece featuring three big pearls at the center of a diamond leaf shape.

The Duchess of Cambridge wears the Pearl and Diamond Leaf Brooch

This piece is something of an obscure member of The Queen's brooch collection. Its provenance is so far unknown and its appearances are scarce; The Queen most notably wore it during a State Visit to South Korea in 1999 (you can see a photo of her wearing it here at the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board). Now the brooch has joined the growing collection of pieces loaned by The Queen to other members of the Royal Family, a collection which certainly makes one wonder if Her Majesty has recently been sorting through some of the many pieces she never wears these days.

Brooches are not really a regular part of The Duchess of Cambridge's wardrobe, but her use of the Pearl and Diamond Leaf Brooch - together with the Collingwood Pearl and Diamond Earrings from the collection of the late Diana, Princess of Wales (first worn for the Spanish state banquet) - adds a nice touch of extra formality for a significant remembrance occasion.

31 July 2017: Passchendaele Centenary Commemoration (on The Duchess of Cambridge)

27 July 2017

The Duchess of Cornwall's Saudi Emerald Demi-Parure

Continuing our feature on Camilla's most impressive official gifts, in honor of her 70th birthday...

What is assumed to be the last of the three demi-parures (one ruby, one sapphire, and one emerald) collected by The Duchess of Cornwall on her March 2006 trip to Saudi Arabia with The Prince of Wales was finally debuted in June 2009, at a Royal Gala Performance of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

The Duchess of Cornwall wears the Saudi Emerald Demi-Parure (Necklace, Earrings, Bracelet) 

This set's centerpiece is an emerald and diamond necklace of a simple design, square emeralds in diamond frames strung in a row. The design is not unique; the Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar had a nearly identical one. (They are not likely to be the same; The Duchess' is most likely a newer creation.) A matching pair of earrings in this set uses single square emeralds in diamond frames as pendants, and a matching bracelet features a row of small emeralds surrounded by diamonds.

The Saudi Emerald Demi-Parure Necklace
British Asian Trust

Like the Saudi Sapphire Demi-Parure, the provenance of this emerald set is officially unconfirmed. It is assumed to be part of the bounty given to The Duchess of Cornwall by members of the Saudi royal family based on the description of the gifts included in the official gift list, the style of the jewels themselves, and the timing of their debut. It is also possible she received jewels on King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's state visit to Britain in 2007. If these emeralds were an official gift, that means the jewels are not Camilla's private property; she is responsible for the gifts on behalf of The Queen (in right of the Crown).

Wearing the necklace with the Pear Drop Diamond Demi-Parure Earrings, 2017
British Asian Trust Screencaps

The 2009 debut of the Saudi Emerald Demi-Parure is the only time to date that the matching earrings (and possibly also the bracelet) have been worn. Subsequent outings have featured Camilla's favorite Pear Drop Diamond Demi-Parure Earrings instead. The necklace has been worn only a handful of times - but that still makes it the most used necklace of the pieces assumed to be official Saudi gifts. She typically wears it with an green velvet gown that she favors when not in one of her usual white gowns.

2 February 2017: British Asian Trust Gala
2010: State Visit from South Africa

25 July 2017

The Duchess of Cornwall's Saudi Sapphire Demi-Parure

Continuing our feature on Camilla's most impressive official gifts, in honor of her 70th birthday...

On her official visit with The Prince of Wales to Saudi Arabia in March 2006, The Duchess of Cornwall picked up three sets of jewelry centered around magnificent necklaces as gifts from members of the Saudi Arabian royal family: a ruby necklace, an emerald necklace, and a sapphire necklace. Although the ruby debut made the biggest headlines - and prompted the disclosure of the gifts' provenance - the necklace assumed to be the sapphire gift actually received the first public debut.

The Duchess of Cornwall debuts her Saudi Sapphire Demi-Parure Necklace in 2006, worn with her Diamond Flower Pendant Earrings

First publicly worn to the Prince's Trust Gala in November 2006, the necklace features a diamond base with nine sapphire and diamond pendants. Matching sapphire and diamond earrings were later worn with the set. These pieces were Camilla's choice to wear to the state banquet held for King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia at Buckingham Palace in 2007, leading me to speculate that sapphire demi-parure was specifically a gift from the late King himself. Official gifts are not The Duchess of Cornwall's private property, as explained more fully in our feature on the Saudi Ruby Demi-Parure.

The single sapphire pendant, worn with the earrings that belong to this demi-parure

The full necklace has only been worn a couple of times to date. In recent years The Duchess has, however, worn a single sapphire pendant on a delicate chain; this pendant is the same style as the pendants on the necklace and could either be one of the pendants repurposed or could be an additional feature of the parure. It makes a lovely accessory for the flowing salwar kameez-style evening ensembles Camilla favors, but I wish we saw more of the full necklace. It is, in my opinion, the most attractive of her Saudi sets.

24 July 2017

Church at Balmoral

July 23: The Queen attended services at Crathie Church, Balmoral.

The Balmoral break has begun! The Queen will stay on another property on the estate until the castle closes to the public on July 31st, after which time she'll officially take up residence at the castle and we'll officially start our annual big Balmoral break post to gather all other sightings. Until then, I believe I spy the petite Greville Scroll on its first 2017 appearance.

22 July 2017

The Duchess of Cornwall's Saudi Ruby Demi-Parure

The Duchess of Cornwall is celebrating her 70th birthday this month, and that's all the reason we need to celebrate by featuring a few of her most opulent official gifts. To start:

The Duchess of Cornwall wears her Saudi Ruby Demi-Parure, 2007

Attending a white tie concert at Philadelphia's Academy of Music during a United States tour with The Prince of Wales in 2007, The Duchess of Cornwall stopped traffic by debuting a necklace that is nothing short of outrageous. Glittering away above her sleek burgundy velvet Robinson Valentine gown was a bib necklace featuring 36 perfectly matched oval rubies nestled in a trellis of diamonds. Much smaller - and harder to see beneath her hair - were a pair of matching earrings, each with a pendant ruby surrounded in diamonds. She may also have worn a matching bracelet tucked under her sleeve.

The appearance won praise for Camilla's glamorous look while also sparking plenty of debate about the necklace and its origins. The royal couple's office at Clarence House - which, like most royal households, is generally reluctant to divulge jewelry details - initially stated that the jewel was a gift from an official tour and declined to name the generous party. When questions continued to be raised about disclosure of official gifts and even whether that explanation was being used as an excuse to dodge taxes and import duties, Clarence House released a list of official gifts received on royal tours for the first time. They've done so every year ever since.

The section of the gift list referencing the jewels in question

The list revealed the ruby necklace to be a gift given to The Duchess of Cornwall from a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family during the couple's March 2006 tour of the country. The list also revealed that the ruby demi-parure was far from the only gift she picked up; she also received necklace sets in sapphires and emeralds. Richard Kay later reported in the Daily Mail that the ruby parure was given to Camilla by billionaire Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal. In press reports, the value of the necklace was estimated at wildly differing amounts from £100,000 to £5 million (all figures which should be taken with a healthy grain of salt).

Sapphire and emerald necklaces debuted by The Duchess around this time have been pinpointed as the other gifts from this tour. (More to come on those shortly!) The Middle Eastern monarchies are known for their extravagant gifts of jewelry to visiting royal women, but I can't think of another royal who has picked up so much extravagance on one trip. It's staggering.

Here, a small look at the earrings. They appear to be pear-shaped rubies surrounded by diamonds.

Of course, these pieces are not Camilla's private property. As stated in the Royal Gift Guidelines of 2003:
Official gifts are not the private property of the Member of The Royal Family who receives them but are instead received in an official capacity in the course of official duties in support of, and on behalf of The Queen. As such, Members of The Royal Family are responsible for such gifts on behalf of The Queen (in right of the Crown).
The Duchess of Cornwall can store and use these gifts during her lifetime; on her death, any official gifts will be passed to the sovereign, who will decide if the gifts become part of the Royal Collection of if they should continue to be held in right of the Crown by her successors. Gifts from heads of state or hosts on official tours will generally be considered part of the Royal Collection.

This particular breastplate/necklace hasn't been worn again since its initial appearance. This is not surprising; controversy aside, it's not really the type of thing that can be thrown on with any old dress. This one practically requires a dress made specially for its use. She did, however, debut another similarly extravagant - and possibly also Saudi - ruby set in 2015 (another one with a feature to come shortly!).

19 July 2017

The Sapphire Jubilee Snowflake Brooch

Attending an event at Canada House to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada's confederation today, The Queen added another brooch to her collection to celebrate her own milestone anniversary.

The Sapphire Jubilee Snowflake Brooch
Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall
The Governor-General of Canada, David Johnston, presented The Queen with the Sapphire Jubilee Snowflake Brooch from Canada. The brooch recognizes Her Majesty's Sapphire Jubilee in 2017, marking 65 years on the throne.

Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall
Appropriately, it does so with sapphire stones. The sapphires contained in the brooch come from a deposit of sapphires discovered in 2002 on near Kimmirut on Baffin Island by brothers Seemeega and Nowdluk Aqpik. Coming from Canada's only known deposit of sapphires, these Beluga sapphires are stones that have a natural blue color that does not require heat to enhance.

Hillberg & Berk
The brooch includes 48 sapphires of varying sizes, shapes, and colors, weighing 10.19 carats in total. The blue stones are arranged with the darkest blue colors at the center, surrounding a diamond dome. The sapphires fade into lighter colors as they approach the edge of the brooch, creating an ombré effect. The stones are surrounded by more than 400 diamonds from northern Canada, weighing 4.39 carats in total, and the brooch is set in 18K Canadian white gold.

Hillberg & Berk
The design, inspired by the Canadian Arctic, is a one-of-a-kind snowflake shaped like the North Star. The brooch was designed and crafted by Hillberg & Berk. The Canadian jewelers also created the Saskatchewan Tourmaline Flower Brooch that was gifted to The Queen in 2013. The center diamond dome around which the snowflake is based is a special Hillberg & Berk touch, recalling their signature Sparkle Ball collection.

Hillberg & Berk
The Sapphire Jubilee Snowflake Brooch measures 61 mm tall and 66 mm wide, or about 2.5 inches square. It's slightly larger than the Maple Leaf Brooch, which is 55 mm x 50 mm, and is right in the size range of The Queen's usual favorite brooches.

The Queen receives the brooch at Canada House from the Governor-General
Royal Family
The Queen smiled as she received this stunning brooch in its beautiful wooden box. She has worn her other Hillberg & Berk brooch on several occasions, and I hope she will be just as fond of this one. It would be a perfect choice for a Christmas service, but I'd love to see it much sooner.

Visit to Canada House

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh visited Canada House, London, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Canada's confederation.
Royal Family

Surprise, surprise: the Maple Leaf Brooch is back! I know some of you will join me in wishing for a little more Canada brooch variation - she has the Enamel Maple Leaves Brooch plus a smaller diamond maple leaf brooch, if she wanted to stick to the leaf theme - but this one is certainly the best known Canada link in the collection. And it could be a good long while before we see it again, once the 150th anniversary events are done.

Royal Family

The Queen actually picked up another new Canada brooch during today's event! Check out her new Sapphire Jubilee Snowflake Brooch here.

18 July 2017

Audience at Buckingham Palace

The Queen received David Johnston, Governor-General of Canada, and his wife Sharon Johnston during a private audience at Buckingham Palace where he relinquished his appointment as Governor-General of Canada.

I'm picturing a giant countdown clock at the palace, ticking away the moments until Her Maj finally gets to depart for Balmoral. But first, there is more Canada business to take care of: receiving the outgoing Governor-General here, and a reception tomorrow at Canada House. Gotta polish up that Maple Leaf Brooch one more time...

16 July 2017

The Duchess of Cornwall's 70th Birthday Portrait

A new portrait of The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall by Mario Testino was released to mark The Duchess' 70th birthday on July 17th.
Mario Testino/Clarence House

If Camilla collected any serious gems for her milestone birthday, none were on show for her official birthday portrait (which, to be fair, was taken back in May). The portrait's very much a reflection of her day-to-day jewel style, though, showing her favorite earrings and a favorite selection from her collection of signature pearl chokers. I'm sure she was plenty bedecked for her private birthday party at Highgrove on Saturday, anyway.

I'll just be over here waiting for a portrait of these two in their full gala splendor to be released. Waiting and waiting some more...

14 July 2017

State Visit from Spain, Farewell

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh bid farewell to King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain, at the end of their State Visit to the United Kingdom.
For more: Zimbio gallery.

"What's that you said up there? You're leaving? Already??"

Well, SIGH. That most fabulous of State Visits is over. With an elegant ballerina-inspired ensemble for Queen Letizia, classic pearls for Her Maj, and a tie fit to make a librarian swoon for Philip, they said their goodbyes.

Can we get another monarchy-to-monarchy state visit on the Windsor schedule real quick like? Before I go into withdrawal?

13 July 2017

New Scotland Yard Opening

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, officially opened the new headquarters of the Metropolitan Police at New Scotland Yard, Victoria Embankment, London.

Several people have commented on how quickly The Queen is reusing her outfits lately, and this is no exception; it was used for a garden party in May. (It was worn the day after the Manchester terrorist attack. Relatedly, if perhaps coincidentally, this visit was originally scheduled to take place the day after the Westminster attacks in March, and was postponed to now.)

Royal Family
Once again, The Queen's brooch choice has been influenced by the golden buttons on this Stewart Parvin coat, and she's selected the Singapore brooch. It really has become a modern favorite, this brooch.

12 July 2017

State Visit from Spain, State Banquet

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, along with other members of the Royal Family, hosted a state banquet at Buckingham Palace for The King and Queen of Spain during their State Visit to the United Kingdom.

My wish for the Spanish state banquet was the Oriental Circlet and Queen Victoria's Crown Rubies. (Which is...pretty much my constant wish.) My prediction was that we'd get at least something from Queen Victoria, you know, because of the family ties and all. Her Majesty, however, is full of surprises.

House of HM the King

It's not just the Brazilian Aquamarine Parure that surprises me - and that is, by itself, a surprise; we haven't seen the tiara used since 2011 - it's the dress! There's color on The Queen's dress, are you seeing this? For someone so dedicated to her white dresses, even this amount of embroidery is a departure. Anyway, with all of this, she's wearing Spain's Order of the Golden Fleece (the red bow on her shoulder).

Order of the Golden Fleece

CasaReal Screencap

 Meanwhile, we are very much back to Business As Usual for The Duchess of Cornwall's state banquet gear: the same choker she wore for the welcome ceremony, with her regular diamond tiara. There is, however, a new pair of earrings! Another pair from Van Cleef & Arpels, and there's more info in the link below. 

Four Strand Pearl Choker with Large Diamond Clasp
Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II
Star, Riband, and Badge of the Royal Victorian Order
 Art Deco Diamond Brooch on her shoulder, previously worn
Diamond Bracelet, not yet covered here but regularly worn

CasaReal Screencap

I went into detail on The Duchess of Cambridge over at the other blog, but her loans require mention here too. Mainly, this is the first loan of the Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace, which the palace referred to today as the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Bandeau Necklace. It's one I've been hoping to see on her, as I know many of you also have. A treat!

Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara
Collingwood Pearl and Diamond Earrings (from the private collection of the late Diana, Princess of Wales)
Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace
Diamond Bracelet (possibly one of the two she's borrowed from The Queen in the past)

That's that. Again, more in depth coverage and coverage of others in up in full at the other blog, so check it out!

The Duchess of Cornwall's Van Cleef & Arpels Snowflake Earrings

The Duchess of Cornwall's impressive collection of Van Cleef & Arpels jewelry has grown once again. For the Spanish state visit, she debuted a pair of the maison's Snowflake Earrings, a part of their Snowflake High Jewelry collection inspired by (what else?) flakes of snow.

Van Cleef & Arpels Snowflake Earrings, Large Model
The earrings come in large and small sizes; The Duchess of Cornwall has the large model. These earrings are made of round diamonds in platinum and white gold. They have 190 stones and weigh in at approximately 13.73 carats. Van Cleef & Arpels lists their retail price at $138,000; Luxury Exchange has a pair for sale at $82,645.

The Duchess wears them at the Spanish state banquet, 2017
As with most of Camilla's VC&A items, provenance is unconfirmed but I assume they were acquired by either Camilla herself or by The Prince of Wales. What we do know is that these sparkled like mad in action - which is a wonderful surprise when it comes to The Duchess of Cornwall, whose hair often hides the earrings below. They're a great fit for her.

12 July 2017: State Visit from Spain, State Banquet

State Visit from Spain, Welcome Ceremony

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh welcomed King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain at the beginning of their State Visit to the United Kingdom.
House of HM the King

The Queen has hosted state visits from King Felipe VI's parents and from his maternal grandparents during her reign. A triple generation State Visit tradition! Just one of the fun facts you get when one of the world's longest-reigning monarchs meets up with one of the world's newest monarchs.

House of HM the King

The classic Shell Brooch was on duty today, shining brightly from her magenta coat. Her Majesty matched both His Majesty (nice tie work, Felipe!) and the other Her Majesty, Queen Letizia's yellow ensemble coordinating nicely with the yellow accents on this Rachel Trevor-Morgan hat.

Royal Family

The queenly pair really stepped up the coordination game once inside Buckingham Palace for lunch and a gaze around the Royal Collection's special State Visit exhibition, because the yellow flowers on QEII's dress really stand out. As usual, the brooch was transferred off the coat to the dress beneath.

Engagement and Wedding Rings 

The Duchess of Cornwall was an array of her usual favorite jewels and her usual favorite ivory shade and her usual favorite statement hats ("statement" being an understatement in this case) for her part in the welcome ceremony. Her Diamond Stick Insect Brooch is said to have been a gift from her late father, and it is one of her favorites; we have not yet covered it here.

Everyday Pearl Pendant Earrings
Four Strand Pearl Choker with Large Diamond Clasp
Diamond Stick Insect Brooch
Gold Chain Bracelet with Multi-Color Stones
Engagement and Wedding Rings

In case you aren't a regular reader of the other blog, you'll find right here an open post for Day 1, with full coverage of Queen Letizia's outfits from the day as well as a livestream link and details for tonight's state banquet. Come on over!