09 August 2015

The Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II

Royal Family Orders in Britain date back to George IV and are still in existence today, given to female members of the royal family. They take the form of a portrait of the sovereign set in a jeweled frame and mounted on a bow. I've written about the practice in general (and in other countries) at Order of Splendor; I've also written about the Orders worn by The Queen specifically (from her father and grandfather) on this blog. The Queen obviously has a Royal Family Order of her own to bestow upon the women of the royal family, and it is the one currently worn by The Duchess of Cornwall.

The Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II, front and back
The Queen's Order features a portrait of herself wearing the George IV State Diadem, the Order of the Garter Riband and Star, the Bahrain Pearl Drop Earrings, and the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace. The image is taken from the famous portrait series by Dorothy Wilding in 1952 and  is painted on ivory and framed by diamonds; the diamond surround changes from reign to reign, and the version here has three brilliant diamonds between diamond baguettes all the way around, topped by a diamond Tudor crown over a red enamel cap of maintenance. Her cypher adorns the gold back side, and the medal is mounted on a pale yellow square moire silk bow with a fringe.

In Canada, 2009
The Order is The Queen's personal gift, and since the actual date of award usually remains private, the only way to know when someone has received it is to see her wear it in public. It's often given after a period of steady service to the monarchy. Current members of the royal family known to have the award are:
  • The Duchess of Cornwall  
  • The Duchess of Cambridge
  • The Countess of Wessex 
  • The Princess Royal 
  • The Duchess of Gloucester
  • The Duchess of Kent
  • Princess Alexandra of Kent
The Duchess of Cornwall was first seen wearing the Royal Family Order for the Saudi Arabian state banquet on October 30, 2007. The Duchess of Cambridge first wore her Royal Family Order, which is made using glass instead of ivory, to the 2017 Diplomatic Reception; it was first seen at the 2018 Dutch state banquet.

The Order worn by The Duchess of Cornwall
These are usually worn at tiara occasions, but - as shown above - there are some other occasions at which they may be worn. The Duchess of Cornwall can most frequently be seen wearing hers for state events, such as state banquets and the State Opening of Parliament, and also occasionally for other events.

Appearances (for The Duchess of Cornwall only):
14 October 2019: State Opening of Parliament
23 October 2018: State Visit from The Netherlands, State Banquet 
12 July 2017: State Visit from Spain, State Banquet
8 December 2016: Diplomatic Reception 
1 November 2016: State Visit from Colombia, State Banquet
18 May 2016: State Opening of Parliament
27 November 2015: Visit to Malta, Day 2, CHOGM Dinner
27 May 2015: State Opening of Parliament 
3 March 2015: State Visit from Mexico, State Banquet 
4 June 2014: State Opening of Parliament
8 April 2014: State Visit from Ireland
15 November 2013: Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Dinner
8 May 2013: State Opening of Parliament
27 November 2012: State Visit from Kuwait (at Order of Splendor)
24 May 2011: State Visit from the United States (at Order of Splendor)
2010: State Visit from Qatar  
2010: State Visit from South Africa
2009: State Visit from India
2008: State Visit from France
2007: CHOGM Dinner 

Photos: Royal Household / via Getty Images