02 November 2013

Flashback: Remembrance Events

In November, The Queen's calendar is always marked with events surrounding Remembrance Day, a memorial day to pay respects to the country's war dead. She attends the Royal British Legion Festival of Remembrance ahead of the main ceremony at the Cenotaph war memorial on Whitehall in London; other events can also be included, such as opening the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey, though not every year. Red poppies are the symbol of remembrance, a reference to the World War I poem "In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae, and The Queen fastens a cluster of these with her brooch.

The Festival of Remembrance is an evening affair, with a few fancier jewels.
(A note: Pearl necklaces are all identified simply by their number of strands not because they are the same necklace, but because they're hard to identify by different names)

It might seem frivolous to talk about jewelry when it comes to somber events like this, but I think it's interesting how they can be used in symbolic and touching ways. At the main Cenotaph event, The Queen leads the wreath-laying ceremony with senior members of her family in uniform behind her (she herself attended in uniform during some of her years as Princess Elizabeth, but she wears regular black as Queen). Other members of the family watch from balconies above, and many of them choose to honor regiments they're identified with by wearing regimental badges; The Duchess of Cambridge has on occasion worn a crystal poppy brooch, the sales of which help aid the Royal British Legion. Sometimes The Duchess of Cornwall accents her poppies with her Diamond Stick Insect Brooch, which is said to have been a gift from her late father, a veteran and former prisoner of war.
For her part, The Queen dips into her collection of bow brooches. They handle the poppy job well, being large enough to accommodate the five poppies typically worn (as seen in the Festival flashbacks above, she has used brooches beyond the bows, but they aren't all well suited to the task - it appears she had to reduce her usual poppy number when using the Cambridge Pearl Pendant!). The Dorset Bow Brooch seems to be the most popular. None of these are restricted to use at Remembrance Day exclusively, but many aren't seen too often apart from poppy events, giving her choice a special touch.

Photos: PA/BBC/Royal British Legion/Getty Images/Corbis/EPA/AFP/Reuters