04 September 2017

Queen Mary's Thistle Brooch

Queen Mary's Thistle Brooch

A new photographic portrait of The Queen was taken in 2010 and unveiled for the Scottish Parliament in 2011, featuring The Queen wearing - for apparently the first time - a unique diamond brooch. The brooch has the appearance of a key from afar, but up close it becomes a diamond thistle with two leaves forming a wreath and a long stem.

The Queen in 2010
Shaun Murawski/Scottish Parliament

Information released with the new portrait identified the long brooch as a diamond thistle that belonged to The Queen's grandmother, Queen Mary. Despite not being worn until 2010, The Queen most likely inherited it along with much of the rest of Queen Mary's jewel collection on her death in 1953.

Queen Mary, with George V and a young Princess Elizabeth, wears the brooch in Scotland

While Queen Mary wore the brooch pinned to one of her signature toque hats, The Queen has thus far worn it only in traditional brooch style on her shoulder. Both queens have capitalized on the thistle association and worn the brooch in Scotland.

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The Queen in 2017

The brooch had to wait seven years for its next outing, at another Scottish occasion. This offers the first real opportunity to see this brooch in full detail. It's really quite beautiful, isn't it? I'd love to see it back in hat use, though that's not something I expect The Queen will ever do.

Appearances:
4 September 2017: Queensferry Crossing Opening

Queensferry Crossing Opening

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, opened the new Queensferry Crossing across the Firth of Forth in Scotland.
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All the world's atwitter over Cambridge Baby #3, and I'm over here just excited by the brooch. It's a rare one for Her Maj today and one we haven't covered here previously! Here's my feature on it.

02 September 2017

The Braemar Gathering

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, The Duke of Rothesay, and The Princess Royal, attended the annual Braemar Gathering in Scotland.
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Braemar Feather Brooch: Check. Pearls all around: Check. Family day of fun and giggles: check.

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The only thing we're missing here is Prince Philip's kilt. Otherwise, it's Braemar business as usual!

09 August 2017

The Duchess of Cornwall's Ruby Garland Demi-Parure

We'll finish up our 70th birthday round of features on Camilla's most impressive official gifts with one last addition to the pile...

Eight years after she wore a ruby and diamond necklace so staggeringly opulent it changed the way Clarence House discloses official gifts, The Duchess of Cornwall did it again. Not with the same necklace, mind you; with a completely different, yet no less extravagant, ruby and diamond demi-parure.

The Duchess of Cornwall wears her Ruby Garland Demi-Parure

For the Royal Film Performance of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in 2015, The Duchess of Cornwall wore a necklace featuring four strands of diamond garlands adorned with 18 pear-shaped rubies, including four down the center of the necklace in diamond surrounds, and multiple pear-shaped diamond elements. The long matching earrings include more diamond-framed rubies finished with a diamond fringe. A matching ruby and diamond bracelet was also worn.

While the provenance of the Ruby Garland Demi-Parure has not been officially confirmed, my strong suspicion is that it was a gift from the late King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. My guess is based on a few reasons, the first and most obvious being that the complete extravagance of the design screams of the lavish gifts given by Middle Eastern monarchies. Second, the official gift list for a trip by The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to Saudi Arabia in 2013 listed Camilla as receiving a "parure" (with no further details given) from King Abdullah. It's also possible that she received some jewels when the King came to Britain for a state visit in 2007. Third, she debuted this parure shortly after the King passed away, so it could have been worn as a tribute. I also suspect that King Abdullah gave Camilla her Saudi Sapphire Demi-Parure in 2006.

The bracelet from the demi-parure can be seen peeking out from under her sleeve

If these rubies were an official gift, then they are not The Duchess of Cornwall's private property. You can read more about the rules for official gifts in our feature on the Saudi Ruby Demi-Parure.

 So far, the Ruby Garland Demi-Parure has been worn just once. None of her larger necklaces are worn with any regularity, and this will probably not be an exception. The earrings would be nice to see worn more often; her hair covers shorter earrings, making longer models a better choice for her eveningwear, and these are perfect.

Appearances:
17 February 2015: Royal Film Performance of The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

05 August 2017

Balmoral Holiday, 2017

By Stuart Yeates from Oxford, UK - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0

The Queen started her annual summer Balmoral holiday in July at Craigowan Lodge on the Balmoral estate, while the castle was still open to the public, followed by taking up official residence at the castle itself in August. Her break usually ends around late September/early October with an engagement or two in Scotland before heading south.

Any appearances by The Queen during her holiday will be gathered in this post. A link for this post will be on the sidebar under Recently Updated Events and it will include the date of the last update, so you can find it any time and don't miss anything. (And if you see I've missed one, help me out and drop a comment below!)

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September 10: NEW! The Saskatchewan Tourmaline Flower Brooch makes an appearance - its first since 2015! - at church.

September 9: NEW! The Queen was spotted out riding at Balmoral, pictures at the Express.

September 4: Interrupting the Balmoral holiday for a quick engagement opening the Queensferry Crossing and for a peek at a rare brooch: Queen Mary's Thistle Brooch. 

September 3: Church again, and this time we can see that the brooch on duty is the Flower Basket Brooch.

September 2: Annual appearance at the Braemar Gathering, covered separately here.

August 31: Members of the family were seen driving out of Balmoral on the anniversary of Diana, Princess of Wales' death; here's The Queen. I'll spare you links to articles trying to make a big deal out of the fact that they were at Balmoral just like they were in 1997.

August 27: Another church visit can be seen in this gallery at Rex, but can't identify the brooch.

August 20: Finally, a church-goin' brooch we can identify! The Singapore Peranakan Diamond Jubilee Brooch is on its sixth appearance for 2017. It seems most of the Royal Family is hanging around Balmoral right now, as the church-goin' crowd included The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, The Duke of York, The Earl and (I think) Countess of Wessex, and Zara and Mike Tindall. Pictures at the link below and also at the DM.

August 13: The Queen and other members of the Royal Family attended church at Balmoral, in another unidentifiable brooch. Photos at the Daily Mail.

August 7: The traditional welcome ceremony kicks off the start of The Queen's official residence at Balmoral Castle. Her inspection of the Royal Guard included both the Royal Regiment of Scotland Badge - which is getting a lot of mileage this year - and Cruachan IV, the mischievous regimental mascot that tried to take a bite out of Her Maj's flowers at their last meeting.
Army in Scotland
Army in Scotland

August 6: Church at Balmoral, in an unidentifiable brooch. [Facebook] 

August 5: The Queen made a surprise appearance at the Aboyne Highland Games to mark its 150th anniversary. She wore her Diamond Art Deco Double Clip Brooch. [STV]

July 30: Church at Balmoral, wearing what appears to be an emerald brooch - maybe the Round Cambridge Emerald without its pendant, but it's impossible to say for certain. [Daily Mail]

July 23: Church at Balmoral in the Greville Scroll Brooch.

31 July 2017

The Pearl and Diamond Leaf Brooch

Attending the commemorations for the centenary of the beginning of the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium, The Duchess of Cambridge wore a brooch borrowed from The Queen's jewel vault. The Pearl and Diamond Leaf Brooch is a large piece featuring three big pearls at the center of a diamond leaf shape.

The Duchess of Cambridge wears the Pearl and Diamond Leaf Brooch

This piece is something of an obscure member of The Queen's brooch collection. Its provenance is so far unknown and its appearances are scarce; The Queen most notably wore it during a State Visit to South Korea in 1999 (you can see a photo of her wearing it here at the Royal Jewels of the World Message Board). Now the brooch has joined the growing collection of pieces loaned by The Queen to other members of the Royal Family, a collection which certainly makes one wonder if Her Majesty has recently been sorting through some of the many pieces she never wears these days.

Brooches are not really a regular part of The Duchess of Cambridge's wardrobe, but her use of the Pearl and Diamond Leaf Brooch - together with the Collingwood Pearl and Diamond Earrings from the collection of the late Diana, Princess of Wales (first worn for the Spanish state banquet) - adds a nice touch of extra formality for a significant remembrance occasion.

Appearances:
31 July 2017: Passchendaele Centenary Commemoration (on The Duchess of Cambridge)

27 July 2017

The Duchess of Cornwall's Saudi Emerald Demi-Parure

Continuing our feature on Camilla's most impressive official gifts, in honor of her 70th birthday...

What is assumed to be the last of the three demi-parures (one ruby, one sapphire, and one emerald) collected by The Duchess of Cornwall on her March 2006 trip to Saudi Arabia with The Prince of Wales was finally debuted in June 2009, at a Royal Gala Performance of Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens.

The Duchess of Cornwall wears the Saudi Emerald Demi-Parure (Necklace, Earrings, Bracelet) 

This set's centerpiece is an emerald and diamond necklace of a simple design, square emeralds in diamond frames strung in a row. The design is not unique; the Maharaja Jam Saheb of Nawanagar had a nearly identical one. (They are not likely to be the same; The Duchess' is most likely a newer creation.) A matching pair of earrings in this set uses single square emeralds in diamond frames as pendants, and a matching bracelet features a row of small emeralds surrounded by diamonds.

The Saudi Emerald Demi-Parure Necklace
British Asian Trust

Like the Saudi Sapphire Demi-Parure, the provenance of this emerald set is officially unconfirmed. It is assumed to be part of the bounty given to The Duchess of Cornwall by members of the Saudi royal family based on the description of the gifts included in the official gift list, the style of the jewels themselves, and the timing of their debut. It is also possible she received jewels on King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud's state visit to Britain in 2007. If these emeralds were an official gift, that means the jewels are not Camilla's private property; she is responsible for the gifts on behalf of The Queen (in right of the Crown).

Wearing the necklace with the Pear Drop Diamond Demi-Parure Earrings, 2017
British Asian Trust Screencaps

The 2009 debut of the Saudi Emerald Demi-Parure is the only time to date that the matching earrings (and possibly also the bracelet) have been worn. Subsequent outings have featured Camilla's favorite Pear Drop Diamond Demi-Parure Earrings instead. The necklace has been worn only a handful of times - but that still makes it the most used necklace of the pieces assumed to be official Saudi gifts. She typically wears it with an green velvet gown that she favors when not in one of her usual white gowns.

Appearances:
2 February 2017: British Asian Trust Gala
2010: State Visit from South Africa