28 January 2014

Thornham Village Hall Opening

The Queen opened the Village Hall in Thornham, Norfolk.
Click above for an article and video from ITV Anglia.
A treat! A wee engagement in the midst of the Sandringham break, and in a lovely red with a can't-go-wrong diamond brooch to boot.

Photo: ITV Anglia

26 January 2014

Flashback: Parliament Opening, Canberra, Australia, 1954

The Queen, accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, opened Parliament in Canberra, Australia, in February 1954.
During her landmark post-Coronation tour of Australia in 1954, one of the Queen's most anticipated events was the opening of Parliament in Canberra. She did not disappoint, turning up in tremendous splendor: Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara, the Coronation Necklace and Earrings, a bracelet and evening watch, the Riband (secured with one of Queen Victoria's Bow Brooches, I believe), Star, and Lesser George of the Order of the Garter. All those diamonds had some serious competition for sparkle, though, because this is one of the occasions after the 1953 Coronation for which the Queen wore her spectacular Coronation gown. This is also just one of several tiara events on that tour.

Video: The Queen in Australia, Part 1 (playlist for all 7 parts)
I recently stumbled across a long film on YouTube chronicling the Queen's long Australian visit back in 1954 which is really rather charming - and a good watch in honor of Australia Day! (It's in 7 parts, the embedded video above includes a playlist for all 7.) The Parliament opening in Canberra included here is shown in Part 2.

In current news... The Queen made her annual visit to the Sandringham Women's Institute meeting on January 23, wearing the Amethyst Bouquet Brooch. Today, January 26, she braved the rain to attend church at Sandringham wearing Queen Victoria's 11 Pearl Brooch.

Photo: National Library of Australia

20 January 2014

Flashback: State Visit from Japan, State Banquet, 1998

In May 1998, the Queen welcomed Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko for the Japanese imperial couple's state visit to the United Kingdom. Shown above is the banquet at Buckingham Palace, featuring the Queen in a gold embellished gown and a festival of diamonds: Queen Alexandra's Kokoshnik Tiara, the Coronation Necklace and Earrings, and the True Lover's Knot Brooch (plus a diamond bracelet and diamond evening watch). She is also wearing both of her family orders and the Order of the Chrysanthemum from Japan (red and blue sash with badge at the hip, plus the star). The Emperor is wearing the Order of the Garter, which was bestowed upon him during this visit.

You can click here for a video on the controversial visit, and count other tiaras (including the Greville Tiara on the Queen Mother) while delighting in the huge sparkle of this kokoshnik tiara.

In current news... Church at Wolferton was on Sunday's agenda, and the Pearl Trefoil Brooch was out for show.

Photos: ITN/PA

15 January 2014

Jewelry Additions from the Royal Gift List, 2013

January's a slow month, but it always brings one delightful event: the release of the annual gift lists! The palaces release lists of gifts given to the royals throughout the year, and they are always bound to include a few jewel insights along with several items worthy of a chuckle - this year, I think the Princess Royal's lists wins the competition by disclosing that she was the lucky recipient of a book called Your Arms Remind Me of Pork Luncheon Meat.

Buckingham Palace's list (including the Queen) include all gifts, but Clarence House and Kensington Palace list only gifts given on foreign tours - so we have lists from the Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, and Prince Harry, but none from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The gifts can be used by the recipient but are not private property; on the recipient's death, they will go to the sovereign, who will decide if the gift is to be included in the Royal Collection.

The descriptions are always vague, but I've picked out a few items of particular sparkly interest.

The Queen:
  • Five-strand pearl necklace of made from natural pearls sourced from the Arabian Gulf from the President of the United Arab Emirates
  • Four enamelled scarab beetles, from Bangladesh
  • The Saskatchewan Tourmaline Flower Brooch

The Duchess of Cornwall:
  • Parure, from the King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud
  • Necklace, from the Sultan of Oman
  • Faux pearl necklace, from an individual
  • Briefcase containing a pen, a tie and jewelry from an individual, given to both the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall

Links for more on the 2013 gifts:

12 January 2014

Flashback: State Visit to Sweden, 1983

In May 1983, the Queen undertook a state visit to Sweden to visit King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia.
Just a few moments from the Queen's jewel wardrobe, left to right: the Dorset Bow Brooch on arrival, the Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace with Queen Mary's Ruby Cluster Earrings and the County of Cornwall Bracelet for an opera gala, and the Modern Sapphire Tiara for the return banquet (which you can see in this video, at the end), plus more events. But no event could possibly compare to the wonder of the state banquet given by the King and Queen:
Now this is what I call super powered bling: two queens, bringing out their best. Silvia is wearing the massive Braganza Tiara; Elizabeth is wearing her favorite Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. What I love about this is that QEII is making up for the fact that the Girls is not quite so tall and diamond-packed as the Braganza by packing on maximum sparkle absolutely everywhere else. She's got the Greville Chandelier Earrings, the George VI Festoon Necklace, and the True Lover's Knot Brooch, the largest of her bow brooches. Both queens are wearing the baby blue sash and star of Sweden's Order of the Seraphim and the Queen has on her family orders (Silvia has Carl Gustaf's portrait). A classic jewel showdown - and oh, how I desperately wish we'd get another Sweden/UK state visit!

In current news... Church at Sandringham was once again on today's Sunday agenda. The Queen wore the top part of the Round Cambridge Emerald Brooch without the pendant.

Photos: TT/Scanpix/Sjobergbild/ITN

09 January 2014

The Queen Mother's Ruby and Diamond Floral Clips

One of The Queen Mother's Ruby and Diamond Floral Clips
There are not one but two of these ruby and diamond floral clips in existence, and the pair are mirror images of each other. They each include two ruby and diamond flowers (one with a ruby center, one with a diamond center stone) with two diamond leaves and diamond stems, and were made by Cartier.
Queen Elizabeth (left) wearing both clips; The Queen (right) wears one
These are usually said to have been part of the bequest left to Queen Elizabeth by the Hon. Mrs. Ronald Greville in 1942, but an investigation into the Cartier jewels of the British royal family by Christophe Vachaudez in Royals magazine in 2015* showed them to have been a commission using some of the loose stones Queen Elizabeth kept at Cartier. She began wearing the brooches in the 1940s and wore them as a set and as individual brooches. Incorporated into The Queen's collection since her mother's death in 2002, they are now used sparingly.

*With thanks to Franck!

2009: Christmas Service

Photos: Suzy Menkes/Corbis

06 January 2014

Flashback: Christmas Service

Before we get too far into January, let's dip back for a quick flash of the Queen's Christmas outfits - and not the broadcasts this time. The royal family camps out at Sandringham in Norfolk for the holiday (though they have previously celebrated at Windsor Castle instead) and they venture out for church on Christmas Day. Her Majesty's brooch selections for the past few years show a preference for baubles from her late mother's collection - for this sentimental holiday, not a surprise - and for firm favorites. The biggest surprise of the past few years, I would say, was her debut of a new Jubilee gift in 2012:
2007: None!
Which year was your favorite? (Preferential to the fantastic red of 2009, myself!)

In current news...First brooch sighting for 2014! The Queen popped out for church on January 5th wearing the Modern Ruby Brooch. Last year's first brooch ended up at the top of the outings count for the whole year...but I have to say I'm already hoping that won't be the case with this little brooch. (Not a fave, no indeed.)

Photos: BBC/Life/PA/Flynet/AP/Getty Images