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