|The Rundell Tiara plus necklaces & diamond stars|
Left, with her diamond kokoshnik tiara, multiple necklaces and brooches, and the serpent bracelet she favored; right, covered in ornamentation for a costume ballShe grew ever more bejewelled, seemingly encouraged by her husband. Bertie spent lavishly on dresses and jewels for Alexandra - much to his mother's despair - and was a stickler for protocol. It's easy to imagine that the man that once confronted the Duchess of Marlborough for wearing only a diamond crescent in her hair instead of a tiara when Alexandra had taken the trouble to wear one encouraged his wife to adorn herself appropriately for her status. (Fortunately the duchess, a.k.a. Consuelo Vanderbilt, had a good excuse: she hadn't been able to get to the bank in time to retrieve her tiara.)
|With the George IV State Diadem plus many necklaces and brooches|
Alexandra's coronation outfitBertie became King Edward VII on Queen Victoria's death in 1901. The new Queen Alexandra reached the heights of her sparkly splendor for their coronation in 1902, wearing literal layers of jewels - so much you can't even tell what's what. Starting at the bottom and working up, her skirt featured Queen Victoria's set of diamond bow brooches with gems dangling from each down the front; a diamond fringe girdle encircled her waist - there's got to be enough for two fringe tiaras minimum right there. On her bodice she affixed the Dagmar necklace as a reminder of her Danish roots (it was a gift from Frederik VII) and then covered the rest with brooches, including an enormous diamond cockade at center and Prince Albert's sapphire among others, most of which were covered up by the strings of pearls she draped around her neck. Also around her neck, she wrapped Queen Victoria's so-called "coronation" necklace of mega-diamonds which ended up blending in to the rest of her diamonds and pearls. All of this rested on a dress which was sparkling all on its own.
|Detail of the mounds of jewels on her bodice for the coronation|
|Alexandra's consort crown - here, set with paste stones|
|In her regal circlet with Queen Victoria's small crown behind (a small crown which includes more than 1,000 diamonds, mind you), plus the diamond collier résille around her neck and Victoria's fringe brooch on her bodice|
Is Alexandra's brand of splendor more or less to your taste?
Photos: The Royal Collection/Suzy Menkes