04 June 2012

The Queen's Two Strand Pearl Necklaces

It's impossible to know how many pearl necklaces the Queen has; a pearl lover herself, she's also inherited jewels from the pearl-draped Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. It's hard to tell the difference between the look-alike pieces given the affect lighting, angle, and so on can have on perceptions of color and size. As with the three strand necklaces, I won't necessarily try to make a distinction, but will group them all here. Additionally, it's often very difficult to tell if a necklace is truly a two strand necklace, or is two individual necklaces worn together.

There are smaller, (relatively) more casual double strands, which were used when the Queen was a young princess and are still used today. There are also a few distinct two strand necklaces with notable histories:

The Queen Anne and Queen Caroline Pearl Necklaces
The most famous of the two strand necklaces is not a two strand necklace at all, but two single strands that are worn together and referred to together so much, I'm counting them among the double strand necklaces. The Queen Anne necklace is the smaller one, with 46 pearls. It is said to have belonged to Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch. The larger is the Queen Caroline necklace, with 50 pearls, which is said to have been created from the best pearls in the collection of King George II's consort. They were left to the Crown by Queen Victoria.
These were both given to Princess Elizabeth as a wedding gift in 1947 by her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. They're the subject of one of the most amusing stories from her wedding day: having decided at the last moment she wanted to wear them, an aide was dispatched to fetch them from St. James' Palace, where they were on display with the rest of the wedding gifts. He had to commandeer the King of Norway's limo, fight through the crowds outside, and then fight for the guards at St. James' to allow him to take them back to Buckingham Palace. Luckily, he succeeded, and they were around the bride's neck for the big day.

Click here to see the Royal Collection's site on these pearls.

Queen Victoria's Two Strand Pearl Necklace with Ruby Clasp 
Leslie Field notes a two strand necklace made of 222 pearls with a clasp of two rubies in a diamond surround which belonged to Queen Victoria; the pearls previously belonged to Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Punjab, and Victoria received it as a gift from the East India Company after Britain annexed the Punjab in 1849. This was in the Queen Mother's possession, but would have passed to the Queen after her death, and seems a good match for the necklace seen above.

The Two Strand Hanoverian Pearls
Field also mentions the Hanoverian pearls, which came to Britain with King George I and included pearls once owned by Mary, Queen of Scots. Queen Victoria left the pearls to the Crown in her will. Queen Alexandra wore the pearls at her coronation. The two strand necklace with diamond clasp seen above may be part of those Hanoverian pearls; it is not often worn by the Queen.

16 December 2020: KPMG Virtual Visit
30 November 2020: Commonwealth Points of Light Award Call
24 July 2020: Call with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
30 November 2018: RAF Regiment Portrait Presentation
10 November 2018: Festival of Remembrance 
9 May 2018: Royal Windsor Horse Show
2 September 2017: The Braemar Gathering
18 May 2017: Dinner at The Ivy
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25 April 2017: Motability 40th Anniversary Ceremony
21 June 2016: A Tweet from The Queen
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7 November 2015: Festival of Remembrance
30 October 2015: Audience at Windsor Castle 
10 August 2015: Guard Inspection at Balmoral
13, 16 May 2015: Royal Windsor Horse Show
2 February 2015: King's Lynn Fire Station Opening 
25 December 2014: Christmas Broadcast, 2014 
8 November 2014: Festival of Remembrance 
17 May 2014: Royal Windsor Horse Show (two different necklaces) 
9 April 2014: Organ Recital
21 October 2013: Cavalry and Guards Club
21 September 2013: Audience with New Zealand Prime Minister
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10 November 2012: Festival of Remembrance
30 October 2012: Our Extraordinary World Gala (Queen Victoria's, with ruby clasp)
4 June 2012: The Diamond Jubilee Concert
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2010: State Opening of Parliament (Hanoverian) 
1999: Opening of the Scottish Parliament
1986: Wedding of The Duke and Duchess of York (Hanoverian)
1963: Wedding of Princess Alexandra and Angus Ogilvy (Hanoverian)  
1961: Commonwealth Visit to India and Pakistan
1960: Wedding of Princess Margaret and The Earl of Snowdon 
1947: The Wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten
1947: Engagement of Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten 
1947: 21st Birthday Speech
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Photos: Royal Collection/Getty Images