03 September 2015

Flashback: State Visit to the United States, 1991

State visits are so carefully coordinated that the eventual mishaps often become the most memorable part of the trip. Such was the case when The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh traveled to the United States to visit President George H.W. Bush in May 1991. What happens when you don't provide for the height difference between Her Majesty and the President? The "Talking Hat" speech is born.

Video: The infamous speech
It's a good thing she wore that jaunty purple and white striped chapeau for this accidentally hat-centric event, but it's a downright crime that the podium obscured the real treasure of the appearance: the Kent Amethyst Brooch with its three pendants in place. We see the brooch alone often enough - it's even made the favorites list in some years - but the pendants are a special event.
(About that speech incident, by the way: Doro Bush Koch's book about her father's presidency says it was actually President Bush's mistake. The chief of protocol had provided a stand that the President was supposed to pull out from the podium after his speech, before moving away to let The Queen speak, and he forgot to do it.)

The state banquet
Photo:  Susan Biddle/NARA/Wikimedia Commons
The state banquet hosted at the White House featured The Queen's Modern Sapphire Tiara with the George VI Sapphire Demi-Parure, the luscious sapphire necklace and earrings given to her by her father as a wedding gift, and her Modern Sapphire Bracelet. Since it was a black tie dinner, she wore only the Star of the Order of the Garter and her Royal Family Orders. I know many are not fans of that sapphire tiara, but I find that I'm so happy to see a colored stone at a state banquet that I can't be bothered one bit.

The Queen hosted a return dinner at the British Embassy and wore some of her old state visit faves, Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Necklace and the Duchess of Gloucester's Pendant Earrings - both, I must say, not the greatest matches for her dress. But she did wear something else interesting in the jewel department...
Did you spot it? Queen Victoria's Wheat-Ear Brooch in her hair! She's done that on a few occasions, but not frequently, and it's always fun to see her add a little hair sparkle even when forgoing her tiara.

Arriving in Texas in Queen Victoria's Bow Brooch.
Photo:  SRA Jerry Wilson/DOD Media/Wikimedia Commons
In addition to the required stop in Washington, D.C., this trip took her to Baltimore, Miami, Texas, and St. Louis, and it was captured on video for the 1992 documentary Elizabeth R. The excerpt below (a fun watch that includes her reaction to the Talking Hat incident, which made me laugh) features another evening appearance, wearing the King Khalid Diamond Necklace and the Antique Girandole Earrings.

There are a bunch of brooches spotted here, all much closer to the brooch roster we see today than the larger ones we've seen in earlier state visit flashbacks, as her favorites are now firmly in place. But we'll always have the Kent Amethyst moment...

31 August 2015

Flashback: State Visit to Portugal, 1985

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh headed to Portugal in March 1985 for a state visit to President Eanes. With her daytime brooch favorites pretty well locked in by this time (the Frosted Sunflower, the Cambridge Pearl, etc.), we'll focus on two of the trip's evening events.

A greenish evening gown is an interesting match for a ruby suite of jewels, but here we are, knee deep in The Queen's 1980s fashions. Queen Mary's Ruby Cluster Earrings, the Baring Ruby Necklace (acquired some twenty years prior), and the Art Deco Diamond and Ruby Bracelet are all on display here.

That, however, is not the real reason that I jumped at the chance to cover this state visit here. The state banquet featured yet another appearance of her favorite tiara, the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, but she paired it with an exciting jewel selection:
Behold! A rare, rare sighting of the necklace and earrings from the Kent Amethyst Demi-Parure (which you can read about here). As a die-hard amethyst lover, it has always pained me that we don't get to see this set more often - this is one of only two outings that I'm aware of during her reign. (The brooch is seen often on its own, though it is rare to see it with pendants as displayed here. It's also worth noting that this is still only a partial display of the set, which is said to also include hair combs.) Thank goodness the purple Order of Saint James of the Sword from Portugal brought the purple gems out to play. One of my favorite examples of Her Majesty digging deep into her vault throughout these decades, and a must for a flashback as we approach her big milestone.

Photos: via Getty Images

29 August 2015

Flashback: State Visit from the Netherlands, 1972

We roll into the 1970s in our flashback countdown with another state visit exchange from Queen Juliana of the Netherlands. In April 1972, the Dutch sovereign and her husband, Prince Bernhard, arrived in the United Kingdom to visit The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh.

Jaunty hats still reigned at this time - I wouldn't mind seeing this one dug out and handed over to the granddaughters, actually - and those of you that despair the few pairs of shoes Her Maj wears today will note the change here. I'm primarily noting the daytime appearance of the Scroll Cambridge Emerald Brooch, the fancier of the Cambridge emerald brooches and the one usually used for on a sash for evening events.

A Windsor Castle state banquet headlined the trip. Naturally, Queen Juliana again emphasized her biggest jewel with a British connection, the Stuart Tiara, the massive size of the tiara dwarfed only by the massive size of her hair.
QEII also made a repeat of her appearance at the state banquet Juliana hosted for her when she visited the Netherlands in 1958, wearing the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, the Duchess of Gloucester's Pendant Earrings, Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Necklace, her Royal Family Orders, and the Order of the Netherlands Lion. She did swap in the True Lover's Knot Brooch, which she also brought with her for that previous Dutch state visit. The Duke of Edinburgh is wearing the "Windsor uniform", which dates in some form all the way back to 1779 and includes a tailcoat with distinctive red collar and cuffs. He's wearing knee breeches here, which allow him to wear the actual Garter of the Order of the Garter at the knee, as men are intended to wear it.

Queen Juliana, highlighting her true blue Order of the Garter with the impressive Dutch Sapphire Parure (including the necklace which is now used as a tiara), hosted a return banquet at the Carpenter's Hall.
The Queen wore Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara and the George VI Festoon Necklace, another combination she wore to her previous Dutch visit, but she's already knocking back the sparkle by using the smaller Antique Girandole Earrings and Dorset Bow Brooch this time around.

She led a large family contingent at the banquet, a sight far more common in those days, featuring The Duchess of Gloucester (Princess Alice) in her Teck Turquoise Parure and Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in the Greville Tiara. The Queen Mother also wore another impressive piece from the Greville Bequest, the emerald and diamond necklace (a piece we have yet to cover). And Princess Margaret wore the Lotus Flower Tiara and the diamond collet necklace she inherited from Queen Mary that was sold after her death.

Just as an example of Royal Family Orders in use to their full extent, here's Margaret with the family orders of the grandfather, father, and sister, and the Order of the Crown of India, which is on a bow like a RFO (the top bow here), all in addition to her Dutch sash. Princess Alexandra, behind her in the Ogilvy Tiara, is also wearing the orders of The Queen and George VI. (And yes, this photo has clearly been mirrored, because all the orders are on the wrong side.)

1972 marked twenty years on the throne for The Queen. The countdown to the longest reigning monarch continues...

Photos: ANP Historical Archive, and via Getty Images as indicated

26 August 2015

Flashback: State Visit from Saudi Arabia, 1967

Continuing our flashback countdown (countup?) through the decades of The Queen's reign, we're now moving into the 1960s - May 1967, specifically - for a state visit at home from King Faisal of Saudi Arabia. This state visit comes with a special bonus, because the King arrived bearing sparkling gifts.

To welcome her guest to the United Kingdom, The Queen chose the Dorset Bow Brooch, a choice once more popular for day events but today usually confined to remembrance events and anchoring sashes at state banquets.
See the arrival on video here
We're definitely in the thick of Her Majesty's most interesting millinery period here, by the way, as you can see with this sort of upright-tam-o'-shanter number above and the flower-covered topper in the video below.
For this review of the King's Troop Horse Artillery, The Queen is wearing the regiment's badge and the larger Nizam of Hyderabad Rose Brooch.

King Faisal would have been treated to a sparkling state banquet hosted by The Queen, though I have no visual to share of that. He was also the guest of honor at a City of London banquet at the Guildhall - still a fixture of today's London state visits - and just as it is today, The Queen was represented by other members of her family.

Video: The Guildhall Banquet begins at 1:13.
The Duke and Duchess of Kent accompanied King Faisal, and The Duchess glittered away in the small diamond bandeau from Queen Mary that was later turned into her Pearl and Diamond Fringe Tiara.

The Queen donned her tiara for a return banquet hosted by King Faisal, another traditionally glittering part of a state visit that has been mostly discontinued in today's shorter visits. Return banquets were usually an opportunity for The Queen to wear any major pieces of jewelry she may have been given by her guest, and this banquet was the first time she wore the King Faisal Diamond Necklace.
The Harry Winston-designed necklace was King Faisal's gift to Her Majesty, and just one of many Saudi jewels she's been given over the years (the King Khalid Diamond Necklace, and likely the Diamond Chandelier Drop Demi-Parure and the Sapphire Tassel Demi-Parure, to name just a few already covered here). I'm guessing that she intended to wear a diamond and pearl necklace here until the gift was received, judging by her other jewels: the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, the Duchess of Gloucester's Pendant Earrings, and a diamond and pearl honeycomb bracelet (she inherited bracelets of this general design from both Queen Mary and Princess Marie Louise). She's also wearing the Order of the Garter insignia and her Royal Family Orders.

The King Faisal Necklace has since been worn by the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and The Countess of Wessex, and when it's worn today, it often conflicts with The Queen's necklines. Seen as it was originally worn when it was a brand new member of the collection really highlights this glorious piece, no?

Photos: British Pathe video screencap, and via Getty Images

24 August 2015

Flashback: State Visit to the Netherlands, 1958

On September 9, Queen Elizabeth II will overtake Queen Victoria as the longest reigning British monarch. From a jewel perspective, one of the things that I find interesting is exploring how Her Majesty's jewel use has changed over the years of her reign, from the changes in the events themselves to how her favorite pieces have rotated over the years. With that in mind, we're counting down to her milestone with one flashback from each decade of that lengthy reign. The 1950s, of course, will get us started:

The Queen's first years on the throne included several state visits to other monarchies, as she made her way around Europe to greet other sovereigns. In March 1958, she and The Duke of Edinburgh sailed on the royal yacht Britannia to the Netherlands for a state visit to her fellow queen regnant, Queen Juliana.
Lots of events equals lots of brooches, and the Aquamarine Clip Brooches, Empress Marie Feodorovna's Sapphire Brooch, and the Williamson Diamond Brooch are just a taste of what this trip included. The Williamson is a pretty big gun brooch as far as diamonds go, but on this particular trip, it wasn't even the biggest diamond in attendance.
Yes, as you can see in the video above, the elusive Granny's Chips, a.k.a. the Cullinan III and IV Brooch, came out to play - and during a daytime visit, at that. But this was a very special visit: The Queen went to Asscher's in Amsterdam, the firm that cut the original Cullinan Diamond. It was there that she met Louis Asscher, who had witnessed the stone's cutting, and is said to have removed her brooch so that he could take a better look, a kindness that brought him to tears. This trip may also have been the origin of the "Granny's Chips" public nickname, as she was supposedly overheard referring to the mega diamonds with that casual moniker (those stories and more in my original entry on the brooch, click here for that).

If you watched to the end of the above video, you also saw the only thing that could possibly out-sparkle Granny's Chips: Tiara Time, the first of about three tiara events for the trip. For this occasion, The Queen chose her favorite suite of diamonds and pearls, including the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, the Duchess of Gloucester's Pendant Earrings, Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee Necklace, and the Kensington Bow Brooch. She also wore her Royal Family Orders and the Order of the Netherlands Lion.
Not to be outdone, Queen Juliana brought her own mega-diamond out to play in the form of the Stuart Tiara and its accompanying jewels, a fitting choice given the British ties of the Stuart Diamond (see more in my entry on that tiara, here). Juliana's two eldest daughters sported more modest, yet still historic, sparkle: the Dutch Laurel Wreath Tiara for Princess Beatrix (left) and the Dutch Ears of Wheat Tiara for Princess Irene (right).

That was just a tiara starter. Even more diamonds, in the video below:
This may be The Queen's most sparkling combination: Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara (which dances in the light like no other), the George VI Festoon Necklace, the swinging Greville Chandelier Earrings, and Queen Mary's enormous True Lover's Knot Brooch.
Queen Juliana kept the theme of giant diamonds going with the impressive Dutch Diamond Bandeau and a necklace and large brooch, in addition to covering her shoulder front and back with diamond star brooches (as one does).

A third tiara event can just barely be spotted in the middle of the video below, which also happens to be quite a showcase for the Williamson Diamond Brooch at other moments:
This appears to be an appearance of her favorite now and then, the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara.

The trip was an impressive display from The Queen's jewel vault, but not an unusual one for the time (save, of course, for the cameo appearance of Granny's Chips). She may just have been emptying the vault because she had to for the amount of events these state visits entailed, but I always feel like there's a certain amount of fun to be found as well in the jewel selections from these early years. The jewels her mother turned over from the crown heirlooms and the jewels she inherited from Queen Mary earlier that decade were still fairly new to her, and perhaps she was still exploring and enjoying the bounty of her collection. That somewhat tapers off as the years go on and favorites became solidified...as we'll see in the flashbacks to come.

Photos: British Pathe and King Cole video screencaps / ANP-ANP Foundation / ANP-ANP Foundation

20 August 2015

The Delhi Durbar Tiara

The Delhi Durbar Tiara
Made for Queen Mary to use at the Delhi Durbar and crafted from other dismantled jewels in her collection, primarily her Boucheron Loop Tiara, the Delhi Durbar Tiara is perhaps the largest tiara in the Windsor collection in terms of overall size. Originally topped by the Cambridge emeralds, it's been altered several times in the course of its life, but has only been worn a couple times since Queen Mary's days. Mary loaned it to her daughter-in-law Queen Elizabeth for a tour of South Africa in 1947 and it remained with The Queen Mother until she passed away in 2002. The Duchess of Cornwall gave the tiara its first appearance since 1947 when The Queen loaned it to her to wear for a banquet for the visiting Norwegian royal family in 2005. That was Camilla's first tiara appearance following her wedding. It hasn't been worn again since that single outing.

Read more at Order of Splendor.

Photo: Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother/Munn

17 August 2015

The Duchess of Cornwall's Sapphire and Diamond Dragonfly Clips

The Duchess of Cornwall with her Sapphire and Diamond Dragonfly Clips
The dragonfly is one of Van Cleef & Arpels' classic inspirations, paying "tribute to the lightness and femininity of nature." The Duchess of Cornwall has a pair of the jeweler's dragonfly "Libellule" clip brooches, one with all diamonds in 18 carat white gold, and the other with a diamond body and blue sapphire wings, again in white gold. A similar all-diamond clip for sale was listed with 2.55 total carats in pave-set diamonds. The brooches are also available with different colors of sapphires.

Diamond dragonfly clip (example)
The clips first appeared on The Duchess of Cornwall in public (to my knowledge) in July 2010, and they're often said to have been a gift from her husband. That's speculation, however, given the amount of Van Cleef & Arpels modern pieces in her collection, it does seem that Charles or Camilla or both are big fans of the famed maison.

The pair worn by The Duchess of Cornwall
We certainly know Camilla to be a fan of insect brooches on the whole. Her collection contains multiple adornments depicting butterflies, dragonflies, other insects, and other animals as well. This is one area where her taste departs from The Queen's, as Her Majesty largely leaves these categories out of her brooch selections.

The design is a light one, making them appear as though they are in flight. And as such, they have made a nice pair for formal events as well as some of The Duchess' more casual outfits. She wears them together, usually staggered on one side but occasionally split as lapel ornaments, and (as you might expect) often on a blue background.

Photos: Tradesy / via Getty Images as indicated