13 April 2015

Flashback: State Visit from Germany, 1958

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh are headed to Germany in June this year for a state visit. Their trip is the next chapter in a long line of visits between the two countries during The Queen's reign, from early journeys in the reconciliation process after two world wars to those today that focus on trade. We'll be flashing back to some of those previous visits between now and then, starting with the first: President Heuss of the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) arrived in the United Kingdom for a state visit in October 1958. It was the first such visit for a German leader since 1907, and (relevant to our particular interests here) a deliciously sparkly one.
For the arrival ceremony, The Queen wore Empress Marie Feodorovna's Sapphire Brooch with its pearl pendant. A large royal welcome party tagged along (see a video here), and that party was also present for a couple tiara events during the visit.
Two evening events are shown in the above video, both of them tiara occasions. (Not shown here is the state banquet given by The Queen, which would have been in addition.) The first is a dinner at Lancaster House. The Queen wore several pieces that were gifts from her family before her reign began: the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, the George VI Festoon Necklace, and the Greville Chandelier Earrings. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother wore the Greville Tiara and the Greville Emerald Necklace, a magnificent piece which is similar in basic design to Queen Victoria's Crown Ruby Necklace.
From the extended family, The Duchess of Kent wore the Kent Festoon Tiara, the Duchess of Gloucester wore the Gloucester Honeysuckle Tiara, and Princess Alexandra of Kent wore a pearl and diamond necklace as a tiara, a piece which is no longer in the family. It looks like The Princess Royal (Princess Mary, daughter of George V) was also in the group, though hard to see.

The second event from the video was a return banquet hosted by President Heuss at the German Embassy.
Now wearing Queen Victoria's Crown Rubies, The Queen Mother also wore the Oriental Circlet Tiara. Princess Margaret gave us a beautiful view of Empress Marie Feodorovna's Sapphire Bandeau, which she paired with a diamond rivière. And The Duchess of Kent completed the visible tiara group with her Kent City of London Fringe Tiara. (Princess Alexandra, also present, had a brooch or something in her hair.)

But try as they might, no one could out-sparkle The Queen at the return dinner. Behold:
A rare sighting of the Dagmar Necklace in the wild! Loads of gem power on display here, with Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara, Queen Victoria's Pearl Drop Earrings, the Dorset Bow Brooch, and her royal family orders. The Queen is also wearing the riband, star, and badge of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Grand Cross Special Class, which she was given on this trip. The sash is red with gold and black stripes on the outside.

Satisfyingly sparkly, no? I can't decide whether the best part is the Dagmar Necklace or that sapphire bandeau...

Photos: via Getty Images as indicate, British Pathe video