21 November 2017

Tuesday Tidbits for November 21: A New Jewel Loan and More

Happy Thanksgiving! Unless something fabulous happens, we're hitting pause until next week. Pie for everyone! But first, these bits:

--The Duchess of Cambridge debuted a new jewel on loan from QEII last night: the Four Row Japanese Pearl Choker, which she wore to the dinner for family and friends the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh hosted for their 70th wedding anniversary. That appearance is covered here at the Vault.

--Also over at the Jewel Vault, more wedding anniversary stuff: a new set of portraits, and a bracelet designed by Philip himself.

--Listen, Crown Princess Victoria heard your advice to lay off the H&M for a while, and she would like to invite you, politely, to DEAL WITH IT. Two Erdem x H&M shirts repeated since then (below, and the super frilly one here); she also remembered how much she loves that one H&M dress that she owns in two colors (and shares with Mary and Mette-Marit) and repeated that too. [Instagram, Svenskdam]
An audience with the President of the European Parliament

--King Harald spent three days in the hospital with an infection, but he's been released and the palace says he's in "fine form", thankfully. [The Local]

--New pics of Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar, for their pages on the royal court's site!

--And finally, I suspect this might be of general interest: Why the Movies Are So Obsessed With Capes. [Racked]

Tidbits is your spot for royal topics we haven't covered separately on the blog, all week long. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

20 November 2017

Princely Event of the Day: National Day in Monaco

It’s Monaco. It’s National Day. (Er, was National Day. Yesterday.) So, you’ve got your hats. Orders and a gala event, but no tiaras. There Will Be Chanel. Let us review:

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Princess Charlene
Princess Charlene’s here to make me twitchy, spending too much time wondering how different (or not different) in shades her hat might be from the lining of the blue velvet Akris coat to the gloves and the shoes. Very different in some pics, not so much in others. Twitchy.

Princess Charlene on the balcony with Prince Jacques and Princess Gabriella
Nothing like a couple little rascals to wipe away the twitchiness, well played.

Princess Stephanie, Princess Charlene, Prince Albert, Princess Caroline
Princess Caroline and Co. dressed up for their own little audition scenarios, that’s entertaining. The matriarch herself will be auditioning for the role of an Edwardian governess in Chanel today.

Andrea Casiraghi, Tatiana Santo Domingo, Charlotte Casiraghi, Pierre Casiraghi, Beatrice Borromeo
Up for the role of Couture Eponine, please welcome Charlotte Casiraghi to the stage balcony.

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Ready for her role in an updated Bonnie and Clyde, we have Beatrice Borromeo, who has already stolen my best in show award. Pierre and his mustache can be her Clyde. (I’m guessing he and various other family members have joined Prince Albert in honoring the carabiniers, the palace guard, with their mustaches; the carabineri are celebrating their bicentennial and decided to grow mustaches for the occasion.)

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Charlene closed the day by posing another critical question: Is a peplum on a sleeve the way to kick me out of the evening coat fan club? (Nearly, Char. Nearly.) Then again, Caroline is wearing festive evening arm warmers, so...

17 November 2017

Royal Flashback of the Day: Queen Elizabeth II's Wedding Gown

Princess Elizabeth and Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten
November 20, 1947
Westminster Abbey
With their big 70th anniversary approaching, how could we not revisit this famous royal wedding gown? The dress Queen Elizabeth II wore to marry the Duke of Edinburgh is every bit as much of a dream today as it was back in post-war Britain. It was extravagant yet tailored to the austere times, and the perfect match for an event that, in a way, helped mark a new era. As Jock Colville wrote of the wedding, “The war, it seemed, really was over.”

The Botticelli inspiration and the wedding gown sketch
The bride selected leading couturier Norman Hartnell, already a royal favorite, to design her gown. The final design was approved in mid-August, leaving Hartnell’s team less than three months to make the dress. His inspiration for the gown was Botticelli's Primavera and the result was an intricate gown in ivory duchesse satin covered in embroidered garlands created with white seed pearls imported from the United States, silver thread, crystals for sparkle and transparent tulle appliqués.

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Princess Elizabeth wore a 15 foot court train attached at the shoulders. The train was made of silk tulle embroidered with pearls, crystals and appliqué duchesse satin. She also wore a silk tulle veil under her tiara. The veil was shorter than the train, leaving the embroidery to be the star of the show. The overall effect is quite diaphanous, like a halo of tulle surrounding the bride.

Royal Collection Trust
The heavy embellishment would remain a hallmark of Hartnell’s work for Elizabeth for decades to come, and is particularly reminiscent of the gown he created for her coronation. (It is distinctly not reminiscent of his other most famous royal wedding gown, Princess Margaret’s, which had a simpler line thanks to the strong requests of the bridal couple.)

The train
Just like everyone else in the country, Princess Elizabeth had to fund her gown with clothing ration coupons. Unlike everyone else, she was allowed 200 extra coupons by the government. Famously, people sent in their own coupons to help the Princess out (these were sent back with a note of thanks, since it was illegal for her to use them). In another sign of the times, the government had to be reassured that the silkworms used to create the gown came from China and the United Kingdom, rather than enemy countries such as Italy and Japan, and the fabric had been woven in England and Scotland.

The bride accessorized with high heel sandals by Edward Rayne in ivory duchesse satin fastened with a silver buckle ornamented with yet more pearls. Her bridal bouquet was made of white orchids and the traditional sprig of myrtle.

Royal Collection Trust
Her bouquet was temporarily lost until someone remembered it was in a refrigerator, just one of several hitches that must have truly tested Elizabeth’s famous sense of calm. The two strands of pearls she wanted to wear also went missing, until it was remembered that they had already been placed on display with the rest of the wedding gifts in St. James’ Palace. Jock Colville, Princess Elizabeth’s Private Secretary, was dispatched to retrieve the pearls, taking the King of Norway’s car – nearly not allowing the King to exit the vehicle before he raced off – and facing an ordeal to convince the officers guarding the presents to allow him to remove the pearls. (They agreed after finding his name in the official program.) And, of course, the tiara broke.

Royal Collection Trust
Everything was found and repaired and the bride made it down the aisle with all the appropriate accessories: Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara on loan from her mother, the Queen Anne and Queen Caroline Pearl Necklaces that were among her wedding gifts from her parents, and the Duchess of Teck Earrings she received from Queen Mary earlier in the year.

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The Queen views her dress at Buckingham Palace, in an exhibition for the couple's 60th wedding anniversary.
The wedding gown has been displayed many times in the decades since the wedding. It was last on display for the Queen’s 90th birthday (as of this writing). Seventy years on, the fabric is beginning to show its age and I wouldn’t be surprised if it goes on display less often in the future. If you’ve had a chance to see it in person already, you’re lucky.

Unlike other milestone anniversaries the couple have celebrated, they'll be spending this one privately. Reportedly, a family dinner will be held.

16 November 2017

Tiara Thursday: Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, Revisited

The diamond fringe tiara, based on the traditional Russian kokoshnik headdress, is an essential tiara design. Given how prevalent the design has been, it's no surprise the huge British royal collection includes multiple examples; there are at least three fringe necklaces and/or tiaras in the Queen's possession today. It's also no surprise that these examples are easy to get mixed up.

Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara
Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara is probably the most famous British fringe, thanks to its use as Queen Elizabeth II's wedding tiara in 1947 (although it didn’t exactly behave during its shining moment, managing to break on the young bride – but more on that in a second). Queen Mary had the tiara created after another diamond fringe in the collection apparently didn't suit her needs. The two fringes are still regularly confused.

Two different fringe tiaras: Queen Mary wears Queen Adelaide's Fringe Necklace as a tiara on the left and she wears Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara on the right
Queen Mary originally used a piece called Queen Adelaide's Fringe Necklace. Adelaide's Fringe was made in 1831 for the wife of William IV from diamonds previously used by George III. That necklace was inherited by Queen Victoria, who used it as a tiara and a dress ornament. Queen Victoria designated Queen Adelaide's Fringe as an heirloom of the Crown and it has been worn by queens ever since: Queen Alexandra used it as a dress ornament, Queen Mary wore it as a tiara right after George V took the throne, Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) used it as a necklace. It is now with the Queen, who is not known to have worn it publicly. Because of the confusion with Adelaide's necklace/tiara, Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara has often been referred to as the King George III Fringe Tiara or the Hanoverian Fringe Tiara. (The difference between the two was not really clarified until the publication of The Queen's Diamonds by Hugh Roberts in 2012.)

A sketch of the necklace dismantled to make Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara, a wedding gift from Queen Victoria; Mary wore it in her hair on her wedding day (right), and it is strikingly similar to another wedding gift, the Surrey Fringe Tiara.
Despite having Queen Adelaide's Fringe at her disposal, Queen Mary decided to commission a new piece that was a little tidier in the graduation of its bars and had fewer diamond bars overall, likely making it easier to wear. Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara was made by E. Wolff & Co. for Garrard & Co. in 1919 and includes 47 diamond bars separated by smaller diamond spikes. As was her usual practice, Mary had an existing jewel dismantled to make the new piece: a Collingwood & Co. stylized diamond fringe necklace she received as a wedding gift from Queen Victoria in 1893. Mary's Fringe Tiara can be removed from its frame for use as a necklace.

Queen Elizabeth
In 1936, Queen Mary gave her fringe tiara to Queen Elizabeth, who wore it regularly during George VI's reign. Queen Elizabeth loaned the tiara to her daughter, Princess Elizabeth (now, of course, Queen Elizabeth II), to wear when she married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten on November 20, 1947.

Princess Elizabeth
It turned out to be a bit of a problematic wedding tiara selection. On the big day, the tiara suddenly broke while the bride was getting ready. The Queen herself can be overheard telling the story in the video below, while touring the Buckingham Palace exhibition of the Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding gown in 2011, with the Duchess and officials from the Royal Collection.

After the Duchess of Cambridge explains that her wedding team had to experiment with ways to attach her tiara and veil, ultimately sewing the veil to the Cartier Halo Tiara (to which the Queen responds, “Oh yes, one has to do that, in case it comes off,”) the Queen tells the story of how she suddenly learned Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara was also a necklace, at the most inopportune time: “The catch, which I didn’t know existed, it suddenly went [gestures with her hands]. And I didn’t know it was a necklace, you see…I thought I’d broken it…we stuck it all together again, but I was rather alarmed…” According to the book Garrard: The Crown Jewelers for 150 Years, the mother of the bride kept the calm by remarking, “We have two hours and there are other tiaras.”

Luckily, being a VIP royal bride affords you all the help you need in just such a pickle, and Garrard was able to solve the problem. “I think he taped up the spring,” the Queen recalled. The Garrard book reports that the frame snapped and was taken by police escort to their workroom for a quick fix. You can tell that the tiara had problems in the wedding pictures, because its strict symmetrical design is a little bit off at the center.

Princess Anne
That little mishap didn't put the royal family off of using Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara as a wedding tiara, although it did ensure that the Crown Jeweler was on hand next time, just in case. Princess Anne borrowed the tiara from Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother for her wedding to Captain Mark Phillips in 1973.

Double fringes: Queen Elizabeth II wears Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara and the City of London Fringe Necklace. (A complete rundown of the jewels in this portrait can be found here at the Vault.)
The tiara then disappeared into the Queen Mother's vault for several decades as she spent her later years switching between the Greville Tiara and the Oriental Circlet. Queen Mary's Fringe Tiara was inherited by Queen Elizabeth II on her mother's death in 2002. She has worn it a couple of times since, but it hasn't unseated any of her regulars as a favorite.

It’s such a versatile piece and I always think fringes have a modern edge, despite the fact that this one's a century old. My diamond fringe-loving heart would love to see it used more often, and I continue to cross my fingers that it will become one of her increasingly frequent loans to family members.

Who would you like to see give this one a spin?

15 November 2017

Royal Outfits of the Day: Queen Letizia in Mexico

Here's Queen Letizia, on a solo trip this week to Mexico for the World Cancer Leaders Summit:

Visiting the headquarters of Red Cross Mexico
House of HM the King
I saw this from the waist up at first and thought, waaaaay too conventional, there must be a Letizia twist somewhere in here.

Hugo Boss Gingham Cotton Jacket
House of HM the King/Hugo Boss
And indeed there was, in the form of a cropped pant! Not exactly a mind-blowing plot twist or anything, just a hint of a Letizia spin.

Meeting with the President and First Lady of Mexico
House of HM the King
What sort of trip would it be without a jumpsuit along for the ride, huh? Not a Letizia trip, that's for sure. This one's Felipe Varela, a repeat. And that's how you do a ponytail for a formal event.

House of HM the King
Her hosts changed into something a little more formal for their dinner, which was good because La Reina was looking a little overdressed for a second. (Although if you can't wear as many diamonds as you want, whenever you want when you're the queen...) The bracelets and earrings from the joyas de pasar also made the trip!

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Attending the conference
Here's a handbag surprise. I'm firmly in the Red Is A Neutral camp and all, but this seems a sharp stylistic turn from the more formal Nina Ricci outfit, what with the people on there and the chains. No?

Zara bag