18 June 2018

Monday Tidbits for June 18: A Tiara Return and More

Another busy royal week ahead, but first:

--It's the return of the Spencer Tiara! The Duke and Duchess of Sussex attended the wedding of Harry's cousin, Celia McCorquodale, over the weekend. I am more interested in the tiara than anything else here, it's nice to see it in action again. [The Sun]
A post shared by DNARoyals (@dnaroyals) on

--The Duke and Duchess of Kent attended a memorial last week for the victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, which prompted Buckingham Palace to reveal that the Duchess has returned to teaching music part-time at a school attended by children who lived in the building and area. [Instagram, Express]

--Over at the Jewel Vault, we covered the Queen's day out with the Duchess of Sussex, as well as a weekend outing with - shock! - no brooch.

--Prince Nicolas turned 3 on June 15, so of course we have a new picture of the birthday boy.
Erika Gerdemark/Kungahuset.se

--And finally, Sotheby's is auctioning a selection of important royal jewels from the Bourbon Parma family, including some that reportedly belonged to Marie Antoinette. I think we'll be talking about this more in depth later. [Forbes]

Coming up this week: It'll be a busy one, with Garter Day, Royal Ascot, the Spains in the US, and more...

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!

15 June 2018

Royal Outfits of the Day: Swedish Royals at the Polar Music Prize

Psst: Looking for coverage of the Duchess of Sussex's big day out with the Queen? Click right here.

The Polar Music Prize was awarded yesterday, to the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and Metallica, with the Swedish royal family in attendance.

Crown Princess Victoria is usually the one to watch at this event, according to me, because she often uses it as an opportunity for some "edgier" garb. Sometimes that strategy works for her; sometimes it doesn't; sometimes it just proves that even the "edgy" side of a royal wardrobe is, in fact, not very edgy at all.

Let 2018 go down as a year where that strategy netted her both the first and the third results: this red toga-style Stylein dress may not be too much of a stretch, but it really works for her. That's a stunning look! I did want to find a picture to share where she wasn't holding the bouquet, though, because tucking her clutch under her arm messed with the sleek lines. That's my caveat #1. Caveat #2 is her black strappy shoes, a clunky end to an outfit with otherwise gold accessories.

Polar Music Prize Instagram/Maria Nilsdotter
Those gold accessories included jewelry from Maria Nilsdotter. The Cherry Valley earrings have one longer earring and one shorter one, a great play to balance the one shoulder on the gown. Victoria also wore the Spike headband, which at first made me wonder from far away if she'd worn her 18th Birthday Tiara for some unknown reason. (That was enlightening, because I learned that there is one occasion on which I wouldn't mind seeing that thing, and that occasion would be a non-tiara occasion.) The gold, of course, was a better match.

Embed from Getty Images
Meanwhile, Princess Madeleine's Giambattista Valli dress is stepping all over Crown Princess Mette-Marit's signature territory (M-M, I can only imagine, either has this one in her closet already or will be swiftly making some calls), and Princess Sofia is knocking it out of the park.

Embed from Getty Images
Knocking it out of the park, I say! She's really proving this week that green is her color. And that a halter neck is her neckline. And that statement jewelry is her best accessory. I'm surprised at how much I love this whole thing. I might be making a note for the best of 2018.

Embed from Getty Images
Let's not forget about Queen Silvia, of course, who wore a tidy black skirt, evening jacket, and pearls. We can always count on her to add a final stately note to the family group.

14 June 2018

Tiara Thursday: The Henckel Von Donnersmarck Emerald Tiara

When Sotheby’s sold this tiara in 2011, they called it one of the most important jewels they’d handled in the previous 30 years. The most important they’d seen since, well, the last time they auctioned the very same tiara. And it ended up setting a record as the most expensive tiara ever sold.

The Henckel Von Donnersmarck Emerald Tiara
The tiara was commissioned by German prince Guido Henckel Von Donnersmarck (1830-1916) for his second wife, Russian aristocrat Katharina Slepzow. Guido Henckel Von Donnersmarck was perhaps the richest man in Germany and one of the richest in Europe at the time, and the family jewel collection was known to be impressive.

The diamond base of the tiara showcases 11 large cushion-shaped diamonds with a hint of yellow to their color. These stones are surrounded by pierced and millegrain-set rose and brilliant-cut diamonds, with lily of the valley motifs between the cushion stones, a line of laurel leaves below, and swags above.

The base of the tiara is a showstopper on its own, yet it merely plays second fiddle here to a top row of truly exceptional emeralds. These 11 polished, pear-shaped emeralds are graduated in size and add up to approximately 500 carats all together. Colombian in origin, they are perfectly matched and perfectly colored.

They are also drilled all the way through the stone, a technique which can be a bit jarring to an eye accustomed to more modern settings, but which speaks to the long and illustrious history of the emeralds. Both the shape and the drilling method are typical of stones shaped in India around the 17th century, and these were likely a feature in the collection of a Maharaja or some other such figure. The emeralds then made their way to France around the 18th century.

Video: David Bennett of Sotheby's discusses the tiara
When the tiara was first sold at Sotheby’s in 1979, it was noted that by family tradition, the emeralds had belonged to the French crown jewels. The 1887 sale by the French government of the crown jewels did not, however, include many emeralds; it’s more likely that they may have been part of the personal collection of Empress Eugénie (1826-1920). A set of polished emerald drops were among the offerings when her personal jewels were sold in 1872. It is also known that Guido Henckel Von Donnersmarck purchased pearls from Empress Eugénie’s collection for his first wife.

Katharina Henckel Von Donnersmarck
Public Domain
The emeralds found their home in the Henckel Von Donnersmarck Emerald Tiara around 1900. The Belle Époque design isn’t signed by a jeweler but it is of the quality of the greatest French maisons; Chaumet is a likely candidate for maker. The family were patrons of both Chaumet and Boucheron.

Embed from Getty Images
In 1979, the tiara was auctioned by Sotheby’s in Zurich. It came for sale again, from a private collection, in May 2011 at Sotheby’s in Geneva. The bidding soared past its lot estimate and ended up at $12,736,927, going again to a private collection. The price of well over $12 million set a record for the most expensive tiara ever sold. A fitting update to the history of the tiara Sotheby’s called “probably the grandest tiara to exist outside Royal, State and museum collections.”

 Do you agree that this one is grand enough to compete with the best collections?

13 June 2018

Royal Flashback of the Day: Princess Madeleine's Christening Looks

Swedish royal christenings have been very good to Princess Madeleine, sartorially. Or, I should say, she's made them very good. A flashback of her looks during the recent run of Swedish christening fun - and in case you weren't keeping count, that's been a serious run; they've had seven of them in the last six years! - reveals two of my all-time favorite Madeleine outfits and only one I'd say was a disaster. That's not a bad record. Not bad at all. (Click the kids' names to return to the individual christening posts.)

Embed from Getty Images
The first one turns out to be the most forgettable, this lavender belted coat with veil headpiece. I remember it mostly because she made the delicious choice to use diamond drops from the Connaught Tiara as earrings.

Anna-Lena Ahlström/Kungahuset.se
Two years later and it's Madeleine's turn to hold the baby. The first of her three was marked in a lace dress by Valentino which was very sweet and very short and very pink and very veiled. (I still think the veil with nothing much else to it looks silly.)

Oh, but the second time was the charm, for this is one of those all-time faves. A Valentino so rich for the October season - and such a welcome break from all the pastels these christenings tend to produce - and so perfectly coordinated by bringing the color from the bottom of the skirt up to the fascinator. LOVE.

Anna-Lena Ahlström, Kungahuset.se
She followed that all-time fave with the other all-time fave: the very best royal interpretation of the SLEEVES trend (sorry, Máxima), in a pink Roksanda Ilincic dress. Another fascinator is well deployed here. Best to leave all the volume to the SLEEVES.

Embed from Getty Images
Madeleine has a knack for picking the best from the Erdem pile. (Another example made your Best of 2017 list.) This one was practical, too; left all the froof at home and out of the way for the kid wrangling.

One disaster, I said. Here it is. (She was pregnant with Princess Adrienne at the time.) The Valentino dress is kind of juvenile and it doesn't work with the coat, which she left on throughout the service. The whole thing feels more haphazard than we've come to expect from her.

Erika Gerdemark, Kungahuset.se
The latest addition to the christening outfit collection is, if nothing else, a return to a totally pulled together look. The Giambattista Valli dress, the flower crown, and the pieces of the Cameo parure make a pretty and carefully coordinated picture. My third favorite of the pack.

How do you rank Madeleine's christening looks?

12 June 2018

Royal Dresses of the Day: Sofia and Mathilde go Retro

Princess Sofia attended the Sophiahemmet University's graduation ceremony yesterday.
Embed from Getty Images
I daresay Sofia's come up with one of her best outfits for the year. It's described as a "modern take on a Forties tea dress," and I'm loving that little bit of retro flair on her. Plus, of course, the vibrant green. So bright and fresh.
Dress by L.K.Bennett
That's a winner. I won't be shocked if it turns up in another royal closet or two later on, plenty of them wear L.K.Bennett.

Some have likened Sofia's dress to the green Dolce & Gabbana worn in Canada in 2016 by the Duchess of Cambridge. It reminded me of another dress we saw just last week on another royal:

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde attended a concert for the Queen Elisabeth Competition on June 4.
Belgian Monarchy
This repeated Dries Van Noten dress from Mathilde definitely shares the same sleeve feel and a similar hint of retro, no? I can't help but love this on her. Even though it stole its color scheme from a bee. And even though that floral print is definitely trying to Rorschach test us all.