31 January 2016

Church at Sandringham

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh attended church at Sandringham, Norfolk. The Princess Royal and Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence were also present.
Another round of the brooch guessing game: it looks like we have Queen Victoria's Bow Brooch here (there is another photo in the article linked in the tweet above).

26 January 2016

The Greville Bow Brooch

Looking at the contents of the Greville bequest, it's immediately notable how few of the Greville jewels can be identified, and it's immediately hard not to imagine what wonders may have gone unworn since the Hon. Mrs. Ronald Greville left her treasures to Queen Elizabeth in 1942. The case of the Greville Bow Brooch makes such speculation even harder to resist.
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, wearing the Greville Bow Brooch
At a Royal Film Performance in 1961, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother wore an enormous diamond bow brooch. This may have been the only time she wore it in public. It didn't surface again until the 2012 publication of The Queen's Diamonds by Hugh Roberts, where you can find it beautifully pictured in its full glory with even more information.
Video: The 1961 Royal Film Performance
Roberts traces the brooch back to a 1900 commission from Boucheron by Mrs. Greville, who had a diamond tiara dismantled and made into another tiara (perhaps the one that would ultimately become what we know as the Greville Tiara) and what was probably this bow brooch. The large stones and large size would have fit right in with the rest of Mrs. Greville's collection, which was inherited by Queen Elizabeth in 1942.
When Queen Elizabeth died in 2002, the brooch was inherited by The Queen. It has yet to reappear in public. Given that the brooch is larger than most of the brooches in use by the royal family, it's not surprising that it has been left in its box. Still, it's certainly a jewel made to make a statement, and I hope we'll see that statement made again sometime in the future.

Photos: via Getty Images,  British Pathe screencaps

24 January 2016

Church at Sandringham

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh attended church at Sandringham, Norfolk. The Duke of York and Princess Eugenie were also present.
Brooch appearance fact of the day: this is the third year in a row we've seen the Modern Ruby Brooch make a Sandringham church appearance. Also note that this triple strand of pearls is different from her everyday selection.

21 January 2016

Sandringham Women's Institute Meeting

The Queen made her annual visit to a meeting of the Sandringham Women's Institute, of which she is Honorary President.
The larger Nizam brooch is a lovely choice for The Queen's regular January engagement, no? Now, if we could just get the two smaller brooches to reappear...

Photo: via Getty Images

17 January 2016

Church at Sandringham

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh attended church at Hillington during their Sandringham break. Viscount and Viscountess Linley were also present.
A well-coordinated pair today, no? And the Frosted Sunflower Brooch is getting an early jump on the competition for favorite brooch of 2016 after being dethroned in 2015...

Frosted Sunflower Brooch

Photo: via Getty Images

13 January 2016

Jewelry Additions from the Royal Gift List, 2015

The royal family released the annual royal gift lists today, reporting those items given to them as official gifts throughout the previous year. (They do this every January: 2014, 2013, 2012.) Buckingham Palace's list includes 92 official gifts for The Queen, among them a marzipan model of the Brandenburg Gate and a black handbag from her trip to Malta.

There are just a few jewelry items of note:
The Queen wears her HMS Ocean Brooch
Harriet Kelsall Bespoke Jewellery, Joel Rouse/ Ministry of Defence

Buckingham Palace also released gifts from other family members, including a door plaque that says "Princess Sleeping" in Welsh for The Princess Royal. The Countess of Wessex cleaned up on a trip to the Czech Republic, where she was given a jeweled brooch, an evening dress, three pairs of earrings, two brooches, and a crystal pendant. You can see one of her brooches at the Countess of Wessex Blog, and she wore the evening dress to the wedding of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia of Sweden.

In contrast to Buckingham Palace, which releases all official gifts, Clarence House releases only those given on official overseas trips. There are not many jewelry items listed for The Duchess of Cornwall, most probably of a smaller, more personal nature:
  • During her trip to New Zealand and Australia with The Prince of Wales, she received a pair of white gold earrings from the Mayor of Nelson, a brooch from the National President of the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association, a bracelet from an individual, a brooch from a “member of the public”, and a pewter ANZAC brooch from the Mayor of the City of Albany.
  • While visiting Ireland, she was given a pair of pearl earrings from an individual and a set of silver jewelry (a pendant and chain, earrings, and a bangle) from another individual.
  • She was also given a gold brooch from the Principal of the Claddagh National School. She promptly wore her Irish Claddagh Brooch for the next few days of the trip.
  • Listed among The Prince of Wales' gifts from his solo trip to the Middle East is a brooch from the Crown Prince of Kuwait, and I wonder if that was intended for his wife. He also received a gentleman's wristwatch and other gifts from the Crown Prince.
The Duchess of Cornwall wears her Irish Claddagh Brooch
Northern Ireland Office, licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Since only gifts given on overseas trips are published for The Prince of Wales and his family, and there were no such trips for The Duchess of Cambridge last year, there are no jewelry additions to report for her. Prince William (and other members of the family) were given plenty of gifts for Prince George and Princess Charlotte, though.

About official gifts: Official gifts are those received during an official engagement or in connection with an official royal role. These gifts are not the private property of the royal recipient. Members of the royal family can use these gifts for their lifetime; on their death, they are passed to the monarch, who will decide if they should become part of the Royal collection or continue to be used by the deceased's successors. The official gift policy was created in 2003 following issues with distribution of gifts; it can be read here.


10 January 2016

Church at Sandringham and Gallipoli Service

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh attended church at Sandringham, Norfolk. They also attended a service to mark the 100th anniversary of the end of the Gallipoli campaign at the Sandringham War Memorial.
A family affair today, as The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also popped over from their Norfolk home for church. Nice to have a little extra royal power on hand when there's a commemoration service involved.

Photos:via Getty Images

09 January 2016

The Greville Emerald Necklace

Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother wearing 
the Greville Emerald Necklace
Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother owned a show-stopping emerald and diamond necklace created from clusters of square or rectangular emeralds surrounded by diamonds with a central pendant, a jewel that appears in basic design as a green counterpart to the Crown Ruby Necklace she loved so much. The necklace was reportedly part of the Greville bequest, which makes sense because it did not appear until after her 1942 inheritance of the Hon. Mrs. Ronald Greville's jewels (Queen Elizabeth began wearing it in the late 1940s/early 1950s), and because Mrs. Greville was known to have had an impressive collection of emeralds.
1972: During the Dutch state visit
Other details about the necklace are complicated, but there are a few mentions of items from Mrs. Greville's collection that could apply. Boucheron: The Secret Archives by Vincent Meylan mentions the firm's valued client bringing one small and one large emerald necklace to the firm to be made into one, which may or may not refer to this necklace. Most commonly associated with this jewel are some powerful potential provenances: society reports of the day mention an emerald necklace said to have belonged to Empress Joséphine, and a diamond necklace allegedly from Queen Marie Antoinette.
The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field swaps those descriptions, identifying The Queen Mother's necklace as an 18th century emerald necklace from Marie Antoinette. Consequently, you will see either provenance -  Empress Joséphine or Marie Antoinette, with Marie Antoinette probably more common - repeated. (I'm inclined to believe that the Marie Antoinette necklace was diamond and not emerald as per those contemporary reports, which Mrs. Greville was prone to planting herself. But it should be noted either way that both provenances are fairly frequently claimed and not nearly as frequently proven.)

If indeed The Queen Mother's necklace corresponds to those reports, it wouldn't be the only serious emerald necklace in the royal collection with such a rumored provenance: the Godman Necklace was said to have belonged to Empress Joséphine, a connection that was unsupported by research.

1959: During a state visit from the Shah of Iran
(Also interesting in this video: An early - if not the earliest - appearance of the Poltimore Tiara on Princess Margaret, a year before she married)
From the 1950s to the 1970s, the Greville Emerald Necklace was regularly seen on The Queen Mother during state visits and at other important occasions, such as her goddaughter Princess Benedikte of Denmark's 1968 wedding. She often wore the necklace with the Greville Tiara and a pair of emerald pendant earrings also from the Greville bequest. Its last appearance may have been in 1990, when she wore it in a birthday portrait. The Queen inherited her mother's necklace in 2002, and we are still waiting for it to make a magnificent reappearance.

1972: State Visit from the Netherlands
1958: State Visit from Germany 

Photos: British Pathe screencap, ANP Archief/Central Photo, via Getty Images

07 January 2016

The Greville Bequest, Part 2

In 1942, the Hon. Mrs. Ronald Greville left her jewelry collection to Queen Elizabeth (later The Queen Mother), "with my loving thoughts." Part 1 of our look at the Greville bequest filled in the background on Margaret Greville and her association with the royal family. It's an important thing to understand, because her jewelry collection directly reflected her personality and societal aspirations. In Part 2, we'll look at her jewels, what we know made it into that bequest, and what we don't know.

Mrs. Greville's ambition to be the top hostess in society meant she needed not only the finest food for her guests and the finest surroundings in which to host them, but also the finest jewels to wear while dazzling in her hostess duties. In her later years, Margaret Greville wasn’t known for her beauty and she was no fashion model, but she was hard to beat when she decked herself out in her best gems. The considerable fortune left to her by her father gave her the resources to assemble a noteworthy collection, and her competitive side assured that she had only the best. (Her snobbery certainly extended to the jewels of others. During one gathering, one of her guests discovered that she'd lost the biggest diamond in her necklace. While the rest of her guests got down on their hands and knees to help search for the stone, Mrs. Greville simply reached for a magnifying glass, offering it with a shady note: "Perhaps this will be of assistance?" The largest gems of others were surely tiny compared to Mrs. Ronnie’s own jewels.)

Margaret Greville

She was drawn to jewels with powerful provenances just as she was drawn to powerful people themselves. Among pieces said to have been in her collection were a diamond necklace rumored to have belonged to Marie Antoinette, emeralds reported to have come from Empress Joséphine, and a diamond ring with alleged ties to Catherine the Great.

Other accounts of her collection list pieces of great variety. Mrs Ronnie by Siân Evans mentions several items, drawing from society reports of the day: a sapphire necklace, a wide diamond bandeau to wear on the head, diamond stars from her husband as a wedding gift, other wedding gifts including a diamond tiara from her father and an emerald bracelet, a collection of black diamonds, an enamel and diamond bracelet from India, ropes of pearls, tremendous amounts of diamonds and emeralds, and more. Boucheron by Vincent Meylan describes additional jewels commissioned by Margaret Greville, including spectacular diamond necklaces, a valuable pair of large pearl earrings, and others. Then there were, of course, the large diamond tiara and the magnificent five strand diamond necklace we know today.

Queen Elizabeth in 1950, wearing the Greville Tiara as it was when she received it, the Greville Festoon Necklace, and perhaps the Greville Peardrop Earrings
British Pathe video

She was a loyal and important customer of both Boucheron and Cartier, where she maintained a steady stream of commissions including maintenance for her existing collection. A long necklace of 210 pearls and multiple other pearl necklaces were sent to Boucheron yearly for restringing, for example. She also had her older pieces redesigned regularly, keeping her current in jewelry trends. What we know today as the Greville Tiara was redesigned more than once, as were other pieces. Her penchant for updates means that any of the pieces listed above may or may not have still been in existence when she left them to Queen Elizabeth.

As a regular guest of Mrs. Ronnie's, Queen Elizabeth would have had a sense of what was coming her way. In fact, she seems to have already been a recipient of the Greville jewel generosity: Evans reports a three strand pearl necklace was given to Queen Elizabeth in 1936, one said to have been worn frequently in the war years. (These may have been the pearls she referred to in 1944. Writing to Princess Elizabeth in the event that "I get 'done in' by the Germans!", she requested that "Mrs. Greville's pearls" be given to Princess Margaret. It seems there would have been more strands of pearls in the final bequest as well.)

Queen Elizabeth wearing the Greville Tiara and the Greville Peardrop Earrings
Portrait by Richard Stone, via Wikimedia Commmons

The Queen received word of Mrs. Greville's final gift quickly. Margaret Greville died on September 15, 1942; on September 30th, Queen Elizabeth wrote to her husband to tell him the news of the will, mentioning that the gifts of jewels to her and money to Princess Margaret would be free of death duties. Queen Mary was soon informed:

"I must tell you that Mrs Greville has left me her jewels, tho' I am keeping that quiet as well for the moment! She left them to me 'with her loving thoughts', dear old thing, and I feel very touched. I don't suppose I shall see what they consist of for a long time, owing to the slowness of lawyers & death duties etc, but I know she had a few good things. Apart from everything else, it is rather exciting to be left something, and I do admire beautiful stones with all my heart. I can't help thinking that most women do!" 
- Queen Elizabeth, writing to Queen Mary 

"How kind of Mrs. Greville to leave you her jewels, and she had some lovely pearls and nice emeralds too I think. [...] I can understand your pleasure about the jewels, you are right not to say anything about them. [...] I never had any such luck - but I am not really jealous, I just mention this as it came into my mind!" 
- Queen Mary's response to Queen Elizabeth 

The two queens discussed keeping the gift quiet, but it wasn't a secret for long. Speculation over the fate of Mrs. Greville's wealth - including those jewels, for which she was well known - ran high. The will was made public, and the gift of jewels to Queen Elizabeth was discussed in news reports of the day.

By 1947, the Greville jewelry was in use by the royal family. Queen Elizabeth wore the Greville Tiara during the royal family's visit to South Africa that year; during the same visit, the Greville Ivy Clips were gifted to Princess Elizabeth for her 21st birthday. Later that year, the Greville Chandelier Earrings and the Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace were given to Princess Elizabeth as wedding gifts. A reluctance on the part of George VI for his family to use jewels obtained in this fashion is sometimes claimed (perhaps without much source), but the more logical reason for the relatively short delay was probably sensitivity to the war and post-war austerity.

The Queen, as Princess Elizabeth, wearing the Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace
Wikimedia Commmons

Even as the jewels were put to use, the true origins of these "new" pieces often remained private. The Greville Tiara - the most recognized piece in the bequest, and an instant favorite of The Queen Mother's - was commonly referred to as a new commission by The Queen Mother for several decades. The Queen's Diamonds by Hugh Roberts, published in 2012, newly revealed the Greville background of other familiar pieces.

The complete contents of that black tin box marked with the initials M.F.G. are still emerging more than seven decades later. An inventory of the complete contents of the Greville bequest has never been made public. The best approximation of its total size comes from the Roberts book, which places the collection at over sixty pieces.

The Queen in the Greville Chandelier Earrings

Yet, the jewels we can identify as having come from the Greville bequest number nowhere near sixty items, not even if you include items with the most speculative of ties. Perhaps other pieces familiar to us came from the bequest and we do not yet know; perhaps there are still unused items waiting for a royal debut. (An emerald tiara described in the aforementioned Boucheron book, for example, remained unworn by any member of the Royal Family - and thus an unconfirmed part of the bequest - until 2018.) Both may be true, and it would not surprise me in the least. (If there's one thing the royal family is good at, it's keeping us guessing.)

Pieces that have been identified as Greville jewels formed a key part of the collection worn by Queen Elizabeth in her years as The Queen Mother. All remaining items from the bequest in her collection on her death in 2002 went to The Queen with the rest of her possessions. These items are today worn by The Queen and by The Duchess of Cornwall on loan from Her Majesty - a fitting association, given that Camila's grandmother, Sonia Keppel, was Mrs. Greville's much-beloved goddaughter.

The Duchess of Cornwall in the Greville Tiara and the Greville Festoon Necklace

Listed below are jewels associated with the Greville bequest. Some are confirmed, and some are only the source of speculation (click the pictures or links to read more on each piece.) It includes only jewels that have been covered on this blog to date.



Items of additional Greville speculation:

05 January 2016

The Greville Bequest, Part 1

You don't need to dig for long into the history of the Windsor jewel collection before you run into the Greville name. The "Greville bequest" is a collection of jewelry left to Queen Elizabeth, later The Queen Mother, by the Hon. Mrs. Ronald Greville in 1942. In an attempt to add some background to the name which appears regularly in our jewel features, we are going to dig deeper into the Greville legacy in two parts: Part 1 on Mrs. Greville herself, who she was and what led her to leave her jewelry to Queen Elizabeth, and Part 2 on her collection and just what that famed bequest included.

The Hon. Mrs Ronald Greville
Painted by Carolus-Duran

Born in 1863, Margaret "Maggie" Helen Anderson was the illegitimate daughter of Helen Anderson and William McEwan, a wealthy Scottish brewer and eventual Member of Parliament. Her birth certificate includes a different father’s name, and it's been said that Helen Anderson was married to an employee of McEwan's brewery at the time of the birth. However, Siân Evans' biography of Mrs. Greville, Mrs Ronnie, disputes this oft-repeated claim with evidence that Helen was not married at the time. For the rest of her life, Maggie would gloss over the specific circumstances of her birth and her early years.

William McEwan and Helen Anderson eventually married in 1885. Margaret’s new position as the heiress to the millions McEwan made with his beer business helped override some of the suspicion about her position as his "step-daughter" and gave her a start in society that her birth did not provide. She married the Hon. Ronald Greville, eldest son of the 2nd Baron Greville and later a Member of Parliament, in 1891. "Ronnie" was a close friend of The Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VII. Maggie became a best friend of Alice Keppel, Edward's favorite mistress. The Greville’s marriage was a happy one, but also sadly a short one: Mr. Greville died suddenly in 1908 at the age of 43. They had no children.

Mr. and Mrs. Greville, circa 1900
Bystander/Wikimedia Commons

Margaret Greville's marriage whet her appetite for hosting society's headliners and collecting powerful friends, and she continued on that path in her widowhood. Grand entertaining became her defining characteristic. She hosted dinner parties in London, and fabulous weekend parties in the country at Polesden Lacey. The Grevilles had purchased their country estate before Ronnie's untimely death and refurbished it completely, including a special suite to accommodate Edward VII's visits.

Edward VII was just the start of the list of royals Mrs. Greville would host. She may have proclaimed that she'd "rather be a beeress than a peeress!", but she certainly desired the company of the elite as she aimed to outpace rival society hostesses. She entertained royals from Egypt and the deposed Spanish and Greek monarchies; she sought the company of ambassadors and those with political power; she stayed in the good graces of the British royal family after Edward VII’s death by becoming a good friend to Queen Mary, perhaps bonding over their shared passion for grand jewels and other exquisite objects. In 1922, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Polesden Lacey
Geograph project/Martyn Davies/Wikimedia Commons

She offered to leave Polesden Lacey to one of George V's children (a move that further secured her position as a close friend of the royal family, it must be noted). The lucky recipient was to be Prince Albert, The King and Queen's second son, and Mrs. Greville encouraged the courtship and engagement of "Bertie" and Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon. The future King George VI and Queen Elizabeth honeymooned at Polesden Lacey in 1923 and remained close friends with "Mrs. Ronnie" until her death.

The Duke and Duchess of York on their honeymoon at Polesden Lacey

Mrs. Greville’s personality was generally described as larger than life. She was a gossip to the core, and never short of opinions. She was also generally described as a snob - "a galumphing, greedy, snobbish old toad who watered her chops at the sight of royalty and the Prince of Wales’s set, and did nothing for anybody except the rich," as Cecil Beaton put it - and her desire to remain at the top of society seemed to motivate many of her actions. To those she favored, she was a good friend; to those she did not care for, she could be malicious.

Polesden Lacey in 1923
Illustrated London News/Wikimedia Commons

Her social ambition wasn't the only mark against her. She held pro-German sympathies in the early 1930s, even visiting the new Nazi Germany and seeking an audience with Hitler. It's likely that she did not fully understand the full extent of the Nazi mission, and she had dropped her support well before Britain declared war, but her reputation had already suffered from the association. She ordered her personal papers destroyed after her death, concealing her private thoughts on the matter.

Controversial and unfavorable notes aside, to the royals whose company she so desired, she was a good friend. She died on September 15, 1942 at the Dorchester Hotel, where she spent the last part of her life, refusing to leave London despite the dangers of German bombing.

"I shall miss her very much indeed [...], she was so shrewd, so kind, so amusingly unkind, so sharp, such fun, so naughty [...], and altogether a real person, a character, utterly Mrs Ronald Greville and no tinge of anything alien." 
– Queen Elizabeth, writing after Mrs. Greville’s death 

With no children and no close family remaining, Mrs. Greville's estate – which totaled more than £1.5 million - was divided primarily between charity and friends, including loyal staff and some of the royals she adored. Princess Margaret received £20,000, and Queen Victoria Eugenia of Spain received another substantial amount. Money was also left to her godchildren, including Sonia Keppel, grandmother of The Duchess of Cornwall.

Polesden Lacey's Drawing Room, 1923
Illustrated London News/Wikimedia Commons

In what apparently came as a surprise to the royal family, she decided not to leave Polesden Lacey to The King and Queen. She changed her will and left the estate to the National Trust instead, so that it could be opened to the public. Hearing the estate went to the Trust instead, Queen Elizabeth said "perhaps it is just as well, things being as they are," and that it would likely be a "very difficult place to keep up."

Margaret Greville, circa 1920
Bookham Bulletin/Wikimedia Commons

Mrs. Greville left a different surprise for the royal family: she bequeathed her magnificent collection of jewelry to Queen Elizabeth, "with my loving thoughts." The only pieces of jewelry that did not go to Queen Elizabeth were those with a value of under £100, which were designated for Mrs. Greville’s longtime maid.

Contained within the Greville bequest were pieces destined to become favorites of Queen Elizabeth, and pieces that are still worn today by the women of the royal family. Mrs. Greville's generosity served to permanently tie her name to one of the most spectacular parts of royalty, which seems to have been just the way she would have liked it.

Click here for part 2, on Mrs. Greville's passion for jewelry and the jewels from the bequest.

For more on Mrs. Greville:

04 January 2016

Church at Sandringham

January 3: The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh attended church at Sandringham, Norfolk
For more: See more of The Queen at the Royal Hats Blog, or the Wessex family at The Countess of Wessex Blog.
And the first appearance of the new year is...purple! An amethyst to kick things off, be still my heart. I'm liking 2016 so far, yes I am.

01 January 2016

Your 2016 Predictions and Wishes...

Happy New Year!

I hope 2016 will treat you well. And I hope 2016 will treat us well too, in the jewel department!

A new year calls for a little bit of fun, so let's kick things off by indulging in a round of frivolous jewel wishes and predictions...

Which jewels are you most looking forward to seeing (or hoping to see) in 2016?

The Queen carried out 341 engagements in 2015, with little signs of slowing down in 2016. Plus, we know we have a state visit from Spain and celebrations for The Queen's 90th birthday headlining the first half of the new year. So...what are your fingers crossed for on the jewel front? A long-awaited debut of something that's slept in the vault for years? More appearances of something that's already a favorite? Do tell.


What would you most like to see covered on the blog in 2016?

Is there any particular jewel you've been waiting to see covered here? (Besides, you know, "everything".) I already have some features planned, including things we didn't get to in 2015 and a couple pieces that require updating with new information, but I am curious to know what piece you've most been hoping to see featured on the blog as I continue planning for the new year. Of course, this goes for The Duchess of Cornwall's jewels and any other loans from The Queen to other family members, too. (I can't make any guarantees that we'll cover every requested item, obviously.)

Photo: via Getty Images