29 March 2017

Flashback: State Visit from Spain, 1986

King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain are headed to the United Kingdom for a state visit in 2017 after postponing a planned 2016 visit due to political difficulties. Two state visits happened between the two countries during the reign of Felipe's father, King Juan Carlos I: Spain to the U.K. in 1986, and the U.K. to Spain in 1988. The 1986 state visit took place in late April at Windsor Castle.

ITN video screencaps. See video here.
The Spanish couple were greeted on arrival by The Prince and Princess of Wales. Queen Sofia rarely wears hats, but on this occasion she chose to fall in line with what she knew her hosts would wear and donned a large black chapeau.

The Queen greeted her relatives (Elizabeth, Philip, Juan Carlos, and Sofia are all descendants of Queen Victoria) wearing the Cambridge Pearl Pendant Brooch.

For the evening state visit, QEII pulled out one of her favorite combinations: Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara, the Greville Chandelier Earrings, the George VI Festoon Necklace, and the True Lover's Knot Brooch. Queen Sofia brought her best and brightest as well, wearing the massive Fleur de Lys Tiara.
On this occasion, the sovereigns awarded each other orders that are not the highest rank for their respective countries. Juan Carlos was given the Royal Victorian Chain (he's wearing it around his neck in the photo above); Elizabeth was given the Order of Carlos III (which she wore with her Royal Family Orders). They awarded each other higher orders later.

ITN video screencaps. See video here.
Prince Philip and Prince Charles both received the Order of Carlos III. (You can see Philip also wearing the actual Garter from the Order of the Garter around his leg in the first state dinner photo.) Queen Sofia was not given a British order. The Queen Mother, who almost never wore foreign orders, was present in the Order of the Garter and the Greville Tiara.

This state visit also included a white tie return dinner with tiaras. Pictures are harder to come by; here is one selection showing multiple family members in attendance (from both countries). The Queen wore the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara with pearls and Queen Sofia repeated the Fleur de lys Tiara.

The Spanish state visit will be June 6 to June 8 July 12 to July 14, and we'll take a look at the 1988 state visit before then.

23 March 2017

The Queen Mother’s Rock Crystal Brooch

The Duchess of Cornwall wears The Queen Mother's Rock Crystal Brooch, 2012
UK in Sweden via CC BY-ND 2.0
The Duchess of Cornwall is fond of this delicate oval brooch featuring a rock crystal disk with a diamond center and a diamond frame. Small details in black on the sides and center are likely onyx (or possibly enamel). The rock crystal has a frosted, translucent appearance and appears to be etched.

The Queen Mother, then The Duchess of York, wears the brooch on her hat, 1927
State Library of Queensland, via Wikimedia Commons
Although the brooch was largely unknown until The Duchess started wearing it, it has been in the royal family for at least 90 years. It was part of the collection of the late Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, who fashionably perched it on her hats in the 1920s and 1930s. The then-Duchess of York and her husband were regular patrons of Cartier, who made multiple Art Deco brooches using the combination of crystal, diamond, and onyx; Cartier thus seems a likely candidate for creator of this brooch.

Lucy the Kitten makes a play for the brooch, 2010
The Rock Crystal Brooch would have passed to The Queen in 2002, who included it among the many other pieces from The Queen Mother’s collection she has loaned to The Duchess of Cornwall. Camilla wears it regularly, and its appearance can vary from highly visible (on a dark outfit) to practically invisible (on a light outfit), thanks to the translucent crystal revealing the color of the fabric behind.

22 March 2017

Audience at Buckingham Palace and Dame Vera Lynn Tribute

The Queen held an audience at Buckingham Palace.

The Queen today received Letters of Credence from Thailand's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, who is wearing a black armband (and whose wife is clad in black) as part of the continued national mourning for the October death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej. I mention this because you'd be forgiven for thinking it was related to today's terrible incident near Parliament, after which the gates of Buckingham Palace were closed. (I believe the audience was completed prior to those events. Her Majesty's next scheduled event happens to be a long-planned visit to the Metropolitan Police tomorrow, to open their new headquarters building. Perhaps things will be postponed or will take on a different purpose.) UPDATE: The Queen's visit to New Scotland Yard tomorrow has been postponed.

A brooch was probably worn, though it can't be seen.
Engagement and Wedding Rings 

Also, The Queen also made an unofficial appearance at the London Palladium on March 18th for a concert in honor of Dame Vera Lynn's 100th birthday.
 See her arrival here. She wore Queen Victoria's Bow Brooch. (h/t to Franck)

Queen Victoria's Bow Brooch

18 March 2017

The Duchess of Cambridge's Diamond Chandelier Earrings

The Duchess of Cambridge wears the Diamond Chandelier Earrings, 2016
The Duchess of Cambridge has worn this interesting pair of earrings on several occasions. The chandelier earrings each have three thin strands of round and baguette diamonds supporting a large pear-shaped diamond pendant and a diamond arc below; at the very bottom rests a fringe of three additional strands of round and baguette diamonds. The combinations of diamond cuts is reminiscent of the Greville Chandelier Earrings, but the design is far more delicate.

The Duchess debuts the earrings
The Duchess first wore these earrings for a BAFTA dinner in Los Angeles in 2011, while she and The Duke of Cambridge were on the first royal tour of their marriage. It was announced then that the earrings had been loaned to her by The Queen. Neither The Queen nor any other royal lady is known to have worn these earrings in public prior to that occasion, but that's not entirely unusual; as we've seen here, pieces can go unworn in the royal collection for decades at a time if they are not in favor with their royal owner. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother seemed especially prone to this, and I do wonder if these earrings were in her collection before passing to The Queen and being loaned to The Duchess (purely my speculation).

Regardless, they now have a prime showcase on The Duchess of Cambridge. They are regular choices for "major event" earrings, for use with tiaras and occasionally at other evening events, and she wears them well.

Note: I refer to them in the title as The Duchess of Cambridge's Diamond Chandelier Earrings not as an indication of ownership or provenance, but as an easy identifier. 

24 November 2017: Royal Variety Performance
17 March 2017: Visit to Paris
22 June 2016: Houghton Hall Gala Dinner
8 December 2015: Diplomatic Reception
20 October 2015: State Visit from China, State Banquet
3 December 2013: Diplomatic Reception
9 July 2011: Visit to Los Angeles 

16 March 2017

National Army Museum Reopening

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh and The Duke of Kent, Patron, reopened the National Army Museum, Chelsea, London, following its refurbishment.

We've previously seen this outfit worn with Prince Albert's Sapphire Brooch, and I find that I'm sorely missing a sapphire this time around. The Queen Mother's Palm Leaf Brooch disappears into the background on this coat, which is a sad thing to happen to a cluster of diamonds.

There's a case to be made that the real outfit of the day came in the form of a flashback, anyway.

Richard Watt/MOD Crown Copyright 2017

Her Maj came face to face with her own uniform from her days as an Honorary Brigadier in the Women's Royal Army Corps, 1949-1953, which is on display at the museum. Take a detailed look below:

14 March 2017

Audiences at Buckingham Palace

The Queen held audiences at Buckingham Palace.

Let the brooch guessing game begin, again. (And since someone will ask about HM's vibrantly attired guest - because seeing the resplendent national dress, uniforms, etc. worn by those presenting credentials is always a highlight - I will tell you in advance that she is Her Excellency the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Marie Ndjeka Opombo.)


13 March 2017

Commonwealth Day and Baton Relay Launch

Double brooch day!

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh and The Earl of Wessex, launched the XXI Commonwealth Games Baton Relay outside Buckingham Palace.

Kicking off on a bright note, the outfit is a delight but the brooch is not the best (this is the second time we've seen it in a month, which is more than enough for me). I preferred this cerise Stewart Parvin coat with the Diamond and Rose Gold Brooch.

Royal Family
Three Strand Pearl Necklace

The Queen and other members of the Royal Family attended the Commonwealth Day observance service at Westminster Abbey.

Keeping the brightness going, this Angela Kelly outfit wasn't just a spot of sunshine in a sea of dark suits, it was the perfect background for a wonderful brooch surprise: the Australian Wattle! The brooch hasn't been seen in action since 2014. Sooooo many diamonds. Watch how it glints in this video, towards the end. You can't even see the entire thing, and yet it's like a strobe light on her shoulder. Yum.


The Duchess of Cornwall also pulled a double jewel day. 

Her favorite Four Strand Pearl Choker with Large Diamond Clasp accompanied her purple suit for the Commonwealth service. Later, when she and The Prince of Wales attended the Commonwealth Secretary's reception, the suit was the same and the jewels were swapped out for her set of pansy brooches, always a favorite with this outfit.
Clarence House

No complaints about the purple theme here, you know. (The Queen is usually the one that attends this reception, but Charles and Camilla took her place this year.)

10 March 2017

The Queen Mother's Lily Brooch

Queen Elizabeth kept some loose diamonds at Cartier, the jewelry firm where she and her husband, King George VI, were regular patrons. In 1939, jewelers were commissioned to create a floral brooch with a lily motif from some of those stones.

Queen Elizabeth wears her Lily Brooch, 1951
British Pathe, see video here
The result is one of the longer brooches in the royal collection. Popularly referred to as the "foot long" brooch (actual measurement: around 6.75 inches long), it contains just over 200 of Queen Elizabeth's own diamonds plus an additional 52 added by Cartier. The piece is shown in detail in The Queen's Diamonds by Hugh Roberts, where it is noted that joints in the thin stem originally allowed the brooch to be worn in different positions, but these have since been fixed in place.

The Queen debuts the brooch, 2010
The Queen Mother's use of the brooch seems to have been most heavily concentrated in the 1950s. It passed to The Queen in 2002, and she first wore it for the South African state banquet in 2010. Unfortunately, with her fondness for white evening dresses, the real scale and design of the brooch blended into the background.

Royal Images via Ministry of Defence
Now, in 2017, we have a chance to really admire the brooch. An official portrait included in the program for the Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial unveiling shows the true scale and magnificent detail of Queen Elizabeth's Lily Brooch. It's much larger than the brooches The Queen wears for daily engagements, and is probably difficult to place, but it makes an impressive statement.

Thanks to David for the tip! 

2010: State Visit from South Africa

09 March 2017

Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial Unveiling

The Queen, The Duke of Edinburgh, and other members of the Royal Family attended the unveiling and dedication of the Iraq and Afghanistan Memorial, Victoria Embankment Gardens, London. The memorial honors "the contributions by Her Majesty’s Armed Forces and all UK citizens who were deployed in the Gulf region, Iraq and Afghanistan from 1990-2015."
PO Phot Owen Cooban/UK MOD Crown Copyright 2017

The scene stealer of the day is probably the toddler who had more interest in having a little fit (i.e., in being a toddler) than in presenting a bouquet to The Queen, which certainly seems to have amused The Duke of Edinburgh. As has been said many times, the royals tend to enjoy it when things don't go according to plan.

Royal Family

But you can't miss Her Maj, resplendent in blue. Queen Mary's Russian Brooch is always a treat to spot, and I love the angle you in the pic below, displaying the depth of the brooch. The showcase stones really do stick out from their diamond setting.

Three Strand Pearl Necklace

P.S.: The rest of the family will be coming up tomorrow on the other blog!

03 March 2017

Royal Welsh Leek Presentation, and the Royal Welch Fusiliers Badge

The Queen, Colonel-in-Chief, presented leeks to The Royal Welsh regiment to mark St. David's Day at Lucknow Barracks, Tidworth, Wiltshire.
Royal Family

She presented leeks today, but I like to think that an opportunity to meet the new regimental goat, Llywelyn, was reason enough for a visit.

This is a new outfit for Her Maj, a heather wool tweed coat and fuchsia pink dress from Karl Ludwig with a matching hat by Angela Kelly. This is a very typical hat design for HM and for Ms. Kelly, but it seems a bit lower than usual, maybe? I mean, it has baby koosh balls on it and I'm still liking it, so something's different.

The Queen wears the badge in 1989
The brooch - which was transferred to the dress when the coat was removed - is, of course, a regimental badge. It represents the Royal Welch Fusiliers, one of the regiments amalgamated into The Royal Welsh in 2006, and features the regiment's red dragon symbol. Like other badges, it's only worn for events pertaining to the regiment in question, which means it's not seen too often.

Royal Welch Fusiliers Badge