31 December 2013

2013: The Year in The Queen's Jewels

It's time once again to take a look back at the Queen's sparkly year - the brooches, the tiaras, the new stuff, and the favorites. Curious how this compares to last year? Click here for 2012's wrap up.

The Most Popular Brooches
We saw well over 50 different brooches in this year's public appearances, most of which were worn just once or twice. There are some that always rise to the top with the largest number of appearances, and I have tallied them up. (With the required disclaimers, of course: these are only the public appearances that have been mentioned here, and we're not always able to identify brooches - and even when we are, sometimes we disagree.)
Our very first brooch sighting of 2013 was the Amethyst Bouquet Brooch, and at that time I wondered if it would mark the start of a purple year...and look at that! The steady old Frosted Sunflower Brooch received some much-needed competition in 2013. The rest of the brooches on the list are all perpetual favorites also seen on last year's list, with two additional welcomes: the Small Pink and Diamond Brooch which turned into a particular favorite, and the Ruby and Gold Flower Brooch, coming out of nowhere with a small handful of appearances.

Most Significant Jewel
It may be tied in third place, but the Flower Basket Brooch's appearances during two of this year's most important occasions - Prince George's christening and the always significant Christmas broadcast - gave it special sentimental value over all the rest. It became a designated link between the generations, from George VI (who, along with Queen Elizabeth, gave the brooch to Princess Elizabeth to mark Prince Charles' birth) right down to a future King George.

The New Brooches
The already enormous brooch collection continued to grow this year. The Emerald and Diamond Sarpech Brooch made its first public appearance at Ascot; new Commonwealth gems were picked up in the form of the New Zealand Blue Pearl Brooch and the Saskatchewan Tourmaline Flower Brooch; a visit to Newhaven added a horse brooch to the family. She was also given a new badge from the SSAFA during a visit in November. The list should probably be longer in the "new to us" category, since there are still brooches that remain unidentified from this year.

The Tiara Appearances
Woe is us, only one proper tiara appearance, plus the State Opening of Parliament. The Queen usually hosts two state visits a year, but this year the first one only included a state luncheon and no glittering state banquet. And of course, as usual, the annual reception for the Diplomatic Corps was another tiara appearance that went unseen for Her Maj. (It has to be noted that we did get an update of sorts on the Queen's tiara collection when the Duchess of Cambridge was spotted in the Lotus Flower Tiara, whose ownership was previously a question mark.) This year did also see the introduction of a portrait featuring the Queen in the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara with emerald drops, though the picture itself was taken three years previously.

My Favorite Appearance of the Year
Has to be the one state banquet we did get, right? It's like she tried her best to give us magpies what we need, throwing in the massive Diamond Cockade Brooch and an extra sparkly diamond necklace. Bless.

Happy New Year, and thanks for tuning in this year! A very sparkly 2014 to you all.

What was your favorite moment in the Queen's jewel-filled year?

P.S.: These tallies include the last brooch appearance of the year...the Queen attended church at Sandringham in lovely purple, wearing the Kent Amethyst Brooch. Click here for a report from the Express, or here for the Daily Mail.

Photos: Getty Images/PA/Rex/MonarchyNZ/Hillberg & Berk/Sussex Express

25 December 2013

Christmas Service

The Queen, accompanied by members of the Royal Family, attended Christmas service at St. Mary Magdalene Church, Sandringham.
Video: Outside church at Sandringham
There's no way orange and black doesn't read Halloween to me, so I'm dubious from the start on this ensemble for the Queen - even if it is "burnt orange cashmere" from Stewart Parvin with fur hat and trim. The brooch is always a winner, though: one of Queen Victoria's Bows.
The sartorial winner of the day? The Duchess of Cornwall, as far as I'm concerned! Camilla looked chic and rocked her own brooch with Queen Victoria connections - an 1897 Diamond Jubilee gift from family members. See Camilla and more family members in the following features:
As you can see from the Daily Mail link, the Queen was also spotted at the first church service of the day, in a fur coat.


Christmas Broadcast, 2013

The Queen's annual message was broadcast on Christmas Day.
Video: The Queen's Christmas Broadcast
This is an instance in which the jewel makes all the connections: the Flower Basket Brooch was worn to Prince George's christening, which was featured in the message and in the photos sitting beside the Queen as she speaks, and she's also sitting beside photos of her parents, who gave her the brooch. Naturally she wore it again - and also the dress she wore to William and Kate's wedding, an interesting choice since the couple featured prominently in this year's video.

Photo: Getty Images

23 December 2013

Flashback: Christmas Broadcasts

The Queen's annual Christmas message, broadcast on Christmas Day, is a tradition dating back to George V. Her first address was a simple radio broadcast from Sandringham in 1952; by 2013, she was filming her television address in 3D for the first time. Though our flashback does not include every year, there is only one year in which there was no Christmas message: 1969, when the documentary Royal Family was shown instead.

This flashback focuses primarily on the brooches worn by the Queen, though there is variety in necklaces and earrings here too (particularly in the earlier years). She's worn many different brooches over the years, but the most popular ones are also pretty popular elsewhere: the Pearl Trefoil, Cambridge Pearl Pendant, and Cullinan V Brooches.
1953: No brooch, but the South African Necklace and Bracelet and Queen Mary's Cluster Earrings (she was broadcasting from New Zealand while on her post-Coronation tour)
1957: No brooch
1958: No brooch
1961: No brooch
1972: No brooch

1975: Cullinan V
1976: Australian Wattle
1977: Modern Ruby 
1978: Cambridge Pearl Pendant
1980: Scroll Cambridge Emerald
1981: Cullinan V
1982: Jardine Star
1983: Diamond and Gold Rose
1984: Teck Corsage
1985: Pearl Trefoil
1986: Grima Ruby
1987: Prince Albert's Sapphire

1988: Flower Basket
1989: No brooch
1990: Sapphire and Ruby Flower Spray
1991: Gold Lace Work
1992: Pearl Trefoil
1993: Amethyst Bouquet
1994: Empress Marie Feodorovna's Sapphire
1995: Jardine Star
1996: Cambridge Pearl Pendant
1997: Pearl Trefoil
1998: Williamson Diamond
1999: Cullinan V

2000: Pearl Trefoil
2001: Empress Marie Feodorovna's Sapphire
2002: Centenary Rose
2003: No brooch
2004: Cambridge Pearl Pendant
2005: Pearl Trefoil
2006: Flower Basket
2007: Grima Ruby
2008: Cullinan V
2009: Queen Victoria's 11 Pearl
2010: Frosted Sunflower
2011: Flame Lily
2012: Cambridge Pearl Pendant

2013: Flower Basket
2014: Cambridge Pearl Pendant

And a programming note... Posts regarding this year's Christmas church and Christmas message appearances will be up late on the 26th, due to the holiday. (I'm sure if there's anything particularly interesting, I'll tweet it first!) Happy holidays, all!

Note: My thanks to the contributors in this thread at the Alexander Palace Time Machine forum, which was a most helpful reference in putting this flashback together. Many of these messages have been uploaded on YouTube, which was also a great help.

Photos: PA/BBC/Getty Images/YouTube

18 December 2013

The Dagmar Necklace

The Dagmar Necklace
There are many notable pieces in the jewelry collection used by the Queen, but one of the most remarkable has to be Queen Alexandra's Dagmar Necklace. A gift from King Frederik VII of Denmark to Princess Alexandra of Denmark for her 1863 wedding to the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VII), it is a complicated structure of swags and scrolls connecting medallions of diamonds and pearls. Made by the Danish court jeweler Julius Dideriksen that same year from 118 pearls and 2,000 diamonds set in gold, the gems themselves are of great value, including the two largest pearl pendants which had been exhibited at the Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in 1851.
The Dagmar Cross pendant
What truly sets the necklace apart, and gives it its name, is the enamel replica of the famous Dagmar Cross. Queen Dagmar of Denmark (circa 1189-1213) was the wife of Valdemar II. When her grave was opened in 1690, she was found to be wearing this Byzantine cross, a relic that dates from around 1000 AD. The front side depicts Christ in the center of the cross and other figures on the arms. The back side depicts the Crucifixion. The Dagmar Cross became a well-known symbol and replicas became traditional gifts in Denmark. King Frederik VII made sure the replica given to Alexandra was true to its roots, and included a piece of silk from the grave of King Canute and a sliver of wood said to be from the True Cross within the necklace pendant.
Queen Alexandra at her coronation, the Dagmar Necklace pinned to her bodice
Alexandra seems to have recognized right away the difficulty involved in wearing such a piece, as one of the first things she did with it was to send it to Garrard for alteration. They made the necklace a flexible piece with detachable parts to wear separately as pendants or brooches (Hugh Roberts' book The Queen's Diamonds includes a fascinating look at the back of the necklace and all the fixings required for this task). Queen Alexandra was pictured wearing the cross as a pendant on a single strand of pearls and using the whole necklace as a stomacher, including for her 1902 coronation alongside her husband. She left it to the Crown with instructions that it is not to be altered.
It passed from Queen Alexandra to Queen Mary to Queen Elizabeth, but the next representation of it in use comes after it passed to Queen Elizabeth II in 1952. She wore it on a handful of occasions in the 1950s and early 1960s, including during her 1957 state visit to Denmark, each time using it with the two largest pearl pendants and the Dagmar Cross removed. (Garrard: The Crown Jewellers for 150 Years reports that the two removed pearl pendants were converted to earrings.) It has not been worn in public since those early years.
Looking at pictures of the necklace in use, it's easy to see why we don't see this one out and about anymore. It must be very difficult to wear; even with the removal of three moving parts, it manages to look messy and jumbled when the Queen is pictured in movement. It's also extremely large and extremely grand, nearly a museum piece from the start. That said, I've always found it very sad that we don't have any representations of the necklace in use as it was intended to be worn, and can't help but hope someone in the future will give it a try.

1958: State Visit from Germany
Photos: Queen Elizabeth II/Royal Collection/Leslie Field/PA

11 December 2013

Audiences at Buckingham Palace

The Queen held several audiences at Buckingham Palace.
Bit hard to see, but it looks like some amethysts came out to play.

10 December 2013

Barnardo's Headquarters Opening and Investiture

The Queen, Patron, and the Duchess of Cornwall, President, opened the new headquarters of children's charity Barnardo's, Barkingside. The Queen also today held an Investiture at Buckingham Palace.
Click above for a video from ITNSource.
I could get used to these two pairing up, this is adorable. The Queen sported her favorite Aquamarine Clips, while Camilla wore a special ensemble from Bruce Oldfield (click here for an article with more on that lovely gesture) and a green Barnardo's badge. And they brought gifts with them for a change - custom ornaments from the Royal Collection to hang on the tree!
They still left with gifts, too, in the form of Christmas stockings for both ladies. Aww.

Earlier in the day, the Queen held an investiture. Among the honors bestowed was a knighthood for cycling star Bradley Wiggins.
Click above for a video from the BBC.
This is a bit hard to see, but based on the level of sparkle in that pendant, I think we might have a rare sighting of the Cullinan VI and VIII Brooch on our hands. Do you agree?

UPDATE: A better quality video has been uploaded on YouTube, and yes indeed - this is the Cullinan VI and VIII.

Photos: ITNSource/BBC

06 December 2013

Westminster Hall Visit

The Queen visited Westminster Hall, Palace of Westminster, London, to view the window installed in honor of her Diamond Jubilee. While there, she visited a plaque commemorating Nelson Mandela's 1996 visit, one day after the former South African President's death.
Video: The Queen speaks about learning of Mandela's death, including the fact that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were at the premiere of the movie "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" when the announcement came. Click here for a gallery from the visit.
And it's the small pink brooch, as she continues with her run of visiting Diamond Jubilee windows (seriously, that seems to have been the gift to get the Jubilee girl).
Three Strand Pearl Necklace

In other news...the Queen held some audiences on December 4th, wearing what I think is the Frosted Gold Sunflower Brooch (and a longer three strand pearl necklace, again).

Photo: PA

03 December 2013

Flashback: The Diplomatic Reception

One of the fanciest occasions of the Queen's year often passes by unnoticed, as we rarely get glimpses from inside. The event is the annual Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace for members of the diplomatic community, hosted by the Queen in November or December and usually attended by a group of royals - all kitted out in their most formal white tie dress, tiaras and all.

2005 (left), and 2006 (I think, right)
It's been several years since we've had a good look at this event, but two recent years were occasions for the Queen's sapphires to come out and play: the Modern Sapphire Tiara paired with the Dubai Looped Sapphire Demi-Parure in 2005, and the George VI Sapphire set paired with the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara in 2006. Since the event is white tie, she also wears her royal family orders, and her Garter Star, Riband, and Lesser George.

The event is catching a whole lot of interest this year (2013), since it was announced that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be in attendance. This is the first public tiara appearance for the Duchess since her wedding day. The Daily Mail has pictures of their arrival, in the car.

Interestingly, the Duchess is wearing the Lotus Flower Tiara (also commonly called the Papyrus Motif Tiara). Originally from the Queen Mother's collection, it was last known to be in the possession of the late Princess Margaret, and now it appears to have come back to the main royal line after Margaret's death - something I had hoped for, since it's a personal favorite of mine. (Originally I was quite surprised to see that she was already wearing a second tiara, but multiple people swiftly pointed out to me that the Halo Scroll Tiara from her wedding day is with an exhibit in Paris, so a swap was necessary.) Kate also wore a pair of diamond earrings from the Queen's collection, loaned to her and first worn in the United States when she and William were on their tour. A second look at this evening's pictures from Pop Sugar shows that she isn't wearing the Queen's own royal family order, meaning she likely hasn't been awarded the honor - yet.

Update: A documentary crew captured the 2015 reception on film, click here for a review.

Photos: Royal Insight/BBC