05 April 2016

Flashback: Commonwealth Visit to India and Pakistan, 1961

The Queen's visit to India and Pakistan in 1961 was the first of a reigning monarch since the countries won independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. She and The Duke of Edinburgh also visited Nepal and Iran in a trip that lasted from January through March.

The royal tour of India and Pakistan is captured in a multi-part film by British Pathé. It's splendid, in that glorious way old news reports always are, with coverage that sounds over the top to our modern ears (this one captures the "Entire Journey in the Magic of Technicolor," even). It's also the best way to understand the lavish reception that greeted The Queen and Prince Philip. The crowds were enormous, the displays were incredibly colorful. Check it out:

Part 1, above; see here for Part 2, and Part 3
The Queen's hat style was really getting interesting around this time, on a sartorial note, and her brooch style still included some fabulously large choices. The trip also highlights a time before The Queen was tied to the same earring and necklace combination every day. Two, three, and four strands of pearls can be seen in these reels, as well as her simple Pearl Stud Earrings.

And, of course, there were the tiaras. As was typical of trips at this time, there were multiple tiara occasions; I've highlighted only some of those with ties to our recent discussion about jewels with Indian connections. Given our discussion about the appropriateness of wearing such pieces in the region, it's interesting to see how The Queen herself handled it. In India, she wore the Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace, and in Pakistan, a few key pieces:

The Coronation Necklace and Earrings, featuring the Lahore Diamond pendant, made the trip to Pakistan to join Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara in a very sparkly and very classic evening display.

The connection of the Coronation set may not be well known, but another set with ties better known was also present:
The Queen's favorite version of the Cambridge Emeralds and the Delhi Durbar Parure returned to the region for the first time since the 1911 Delhi Durbar for which pieces of the set were made. Of course, her favorite version happens to be heavy on the Cambridge emerald part of the equation and less on the same Delhi Durbar portion worn by Queen Mary in 1911. Mary's green stones were in the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, the Delhi Durbar Necklace and Earrings and Bracelet (not pictured), and the Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch. She's also wearing the Order of Pakistan (the sash has since changed). Personally, I don't expect to see any of these particular pieces loaned out anytime soon, but it is food for thought after our recent discussion.

Photos: British Pathé / AP screencaps, via Getty Images