19 February 2018

Royal Jewels of the Day: Kate's Emerald Display

The Duchess of Cambridge decided to show off a little more from her jewel vault last night.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the BAFTA Awards.
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Emerald and diamond earrings with a matching necklace and bracelet! This is not an entirely new jewel debut. Recall, if you will, her visit to New York in 2014:

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At the St. Andrews 600th Anniversary Dinner
The earrings she wore to the BAFTAs appear to be the bottom portion of the earrings she wore in 2014. She also wore the bracelet back in 2014. The provenance of this set is not officially known, but a gift from a Middle Eastern royal - based on the style and size of the jewels - is my strongest guess. A wedding present, maybe, since that would have been her biggest opportunity to pick up a Middle East gift thus far in her royal life.

If I just leave it at the emeralds and don't talk about the dress color, can we call that good?
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Thing is, I found the notion that there should be any "controversy" should she choose to wear black in support of Time's Up in the first place to be a fairly infuriating thing. And I find myself unwilling to devote any more words to it than that. (But I'll end this back on a purely superficial note to say that, while the shape of this Jenny Packham dress is stunning, I'm not a fan of the dullness of this color with the vibrant emeralds. Funnily enough, they'd have looked amazing with black.)

16 February 2018

Royal Flashback of the Day: Margrethe and Henrik's Wedding

Kongehuset
The Danish royal family are this week continuing to mourn the loss of Prince Henrik and prepare for his funeral. They have emerged to view the flowers left outside the palace by the crowds and to accompany Prince Henrik's coffin from Fredensborg Palace to Amalienborg Palace. Queen Margrethe has declared court mourning until March 14th, during which time the royal family and court will wear dark clothing for public appearances and will not take part in any social or entertainment events. The funeral will be held on February 20th. It will be a private family event in accordance with Prince Henrik's wishes, not a state occasion (no foreign royals in attendance).


As they say goodbye, let's take a video look back to when they said hello: Margrethe's wedding to Henrik on June 10, 1967. The future queen wore the Khedive of Egypt Tiara and a Jørgen Bender gown that incorporated antique family lace; her groom could have passed for a French James Bond in his dapper white tie. Theirs may not have been the easiest match all the way through, but it certainly seemed to be a wonderful artistic and intellectual pairing, and they were clearly head over heels on this happy wedding day.





15 February 2018

Tiara Thursday: The Cartier "Lusitania" Tiara

Some tiaras are set apart by their extraordinary materials or craftsmanship, some become known for their ownership, and some simply have a story you can't forget.

The Cartier "Lusitania" Tiara
Sotheby's
This tiara was commissioned from Cartier Paris in 1909 by Sir Hugh Montagu Allan for his wife, Marguerite (1873-1957). It features a classic Greek key or meander motif created with circular-cut diamonds in a millegrain setting, with a border of seed pearls and a large detachable old-mine cut diamond at the center. Sir Montagu, as he was known, was a prominent Canadian banker and ship owner and the family were fixtures of Montreal society.

Lady Allan wearing her Cartier tiara
Sotheby's
In 1915, the family was packing up their life in Canada and heading to England, where they intended to stay for the duration of World War I to assist in the war efforts. Lady Allan was to help open a hospital in England for Canadian serviceman. Sir Montagu was still in Canada closing up the family's mansion when his wife and two of the couple's four children, 16-year-old Anna and 15-year-old Gwendolyn, set out to sail from New York to Liverpool on the RMS Lusitania. Joining the Allans on their fateful journey were two of Marguerite's maids, Emily Davis and Annie Walker, plus a load of luggage that included Lady Allan's jewels - and her diamond and pearl Cartier tiara. The ship left New York on May 1, 1915.

Sotheby's
The Lusitania was one of the largest and fastest ships on the sea, and it continued to ferry civilian passengers across the Atlantic even as submarine warfare intensified. Germany had declared the seas around the United Kingdom a war zone and had warned that allied ships were in those waters were risking attack. The German embassy in the United States even warned specifically of the threat to the Lusitania on its May 1915 voyage. Many, however, thought that the ship's speed would keep it safe from attack. They were wrong.

Sotheby's
On the afternoon of May 7, 1915, the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the southern coast of Ireland. It sank in just 18 minutes. Of the nearly 2,000 passengers and crew on board, 1,198 died. Among the fatalities were both of the Allan's teenage daughters. (Heartbreakingly, Sir Montagu and Marguerite would later endure the losses of their remaining two children: son Hugh was killed on his first service flight as a member of the Royal Naval Air Service in 1917, and eldest daughter Martha died at the age of 47.) Though she was severely injured, Lady Allan survived the sinking of the Lusitania. Her two maids survived the shipwreck as well. Unbelievably, one of them also managed to save Lady Allan's Cartier tiara, concealing it in her clothes throughout the tragedy.

Cartier
Marguerite Allan kept her shipwrecked tiara for the rest of her life and bequeathed it to a cousin, Elspeth Paterson Dawes. Ms. Dawes' granddaughter placed the tiara up for auction in 2015, telling The Globe and Mail that while she was sad to see it leave the family, the 100th anniversary of the war was the right time to let it go. The tiara sold for $799,265, well over its estimate of $293,994 - $443,483 (USD). It was reacquired by Cartier and is now part of the Cartier Collection.

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On display at the V&A
Cartier's reserve of historical tiaras are regularly loaned for museum exhibitions, and if you happen to be in London in the first half of 2018, you have an opportunity to see the Lusitania tiara in person at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The tiara joins furnishings, ship fittings, clothing of wealthy passengers, and other items from the age of the great ocean liners in the Ocean Liners: Speed and Style exhibition, which runs now through June 17, 2018.

14 February 2018

Royal Outfit of the Day: Meghan and Harry in Scotland

{A note before we carry on with our usual fare: Very sadly, Prince Henrik passed away on the 13th. Tidbits has been updated and continues to be open, as always, for discussion.} 

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited Edinburgh yesterday.
MOD/Crown Copyright 2018
You'll never guess what Meghan wore for her first trip to Scotland: a long coat and trousers, okay, yeah, and also TARTAN, because what else. A Burberry coat this time around with some Veronica Beard trousers that proved a little too long for a stroll outdoors.

MOD/Crown Copyright 2018
When in doubt, match yourself to the regimental mascot. (This is Cruachan IV, the Shetland pony that spends more time hobnobbing with royalty than the royals themselves do, or so it seems. Cruachan met the Queen twice last year alone, once attempting to turn her bouquet of flowers into a tasty snack. Cheeky Cruachan tried to make a snack out of Harry this time, but who among us can blame him for that.)

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She's still doing an excellent job of matching her outfit to Harry's, formality-wise, and I can't complain that I'd like to see her in something more formal (as I know many of you would) when the occasion doesn't call for it. It does, however, make me look forward to a more expanded program somewhere out there in the future - if for no other reason than putting an end to grand pronouncements on her style based on only a few appearances.

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P.S.: Who am I to deny you a ring close up?

13 February 2018

Royal Outfits of the Day: Letizia in Lace

The King and Queen of Spain attended the Innovation and Design awards yesterday.
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The latest update from the world of fussy lace comes to us by way of Letizia (in a Zara shirt), surprisingly enough. She's not the first one to reach for the voluminous sleeves, but she might be the only one that could make the voluminous sleeves and voluminous top work.

House of HM the King
It's really an awful lot of volume, though, isn't it? Yeah.

Queen Letizia attended the Princess Of Girona Foundation Prize in Arts and Literature last week.
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There's a touch of lace in this gem from last week, too, on the top underneath her sharp jacket. It was my only minor quibble on this an otherwise sleek combo of Carolina Herrera and Hugo Boss. Although I was entirely distracted from the lace - and all the other things - once I realized that she went full animal print on arrival.

House of HM the King
A cheetah print coat! Oh yeah.

12 February 2018

Monday Tidbits for February 12: Wedding Updates, Health Updates

Update: Prince Henrik of Denmark passed away peacefully in his sleep on February 13th, at Fredensborg Palace with Queen Margrethe and the couple's two sons at his side. 

It's a mix of good news and bad news this time around:

--New details have been released regarding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding on May 19th. The ceremony will take place at noon at St. George's Chapel and will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor with the Archbishop of Canterbury officiating the vows. At 1 pm, the couple will embark on a carriage procession through Windsor. There will be one reception right after the service in St. George's Hall at Windsor Castle (where state banquets are held when at Windsor) and a private reception hosted by Prince Charles for close friends and family later on.
St. George's Hall, Windsor Castle
By Joshua Barnett - CC BY 2.0

--Sadly, the Danish royal household announced last week that Prince Henrik's health has "greatly worsened", enough so that Crown Prince Frederik cut short his trip to the Winter Olympics in South Korea and returned home. Henrik's brother, Etienne de Montpezat, was quoted by BT as saying "it seems to be a matter of weeks." Prince Henrik has been hospitalized since January, when he was transferred home to Denmark after falling ill during a trip to Egypt; he's been through months of health issues over the past year, including surgery last summer, a dementia diagnosis, and now a benign tumor and infection in his lung. The whole royal family visited the hospital over the weekend and Queen Margrethe has cancelled immediate engagements.

--Princess Mako made her first official public appearance since the imperial household announced that her wedding to Kei Komuro, which was intended to happen in November, will be postponed until 2020. (The official reason of “lack of preparation” has only caused more speculation, including about a reported financial dispute in the groom's family.) Mako carried on, attending a calligraphy exhibition. [Japan Times, Japan Today]
ANN

--Over at the Jewel Vault, an orange-clad Queen came back to London and is back to work in purple one day and in a brooch we haven't seen in a few years another day.

--And finally, since we're doing the 2018 royal wedding rounds, here's one for those of you that have posed this very question in the past couple weeks: Have you been pronouncing Princess Eugenie's name wrong all this time? [Hello]


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!

07 February 2018

Royal Outfits of the Day: Letizia, Rania, Mary, and Suits

Quick note: The blog returns on Monday!

A trio of updates from royal ladies and the suits that love them. Or suit separates. Or not really suits but just go with it because. 

King Felipe and Queen Letizia presented the Gold Medals of Merit in Fine Arts yesterday.
House of HM the King
I'm sorry, royal men, did you think you had a monopoly in the blue suit department? Step aside. Letizia's contribution accomplishes the same thing as all the blue suits on the gents, really: gets the job done and not much more. Thank goodness for a polka dot blouse.

Queen Rania attended a meeting with King Abdullah in mid-January.
Instagram/queenrania
You want a sharp take on a trouser, Rania's your queen. In this case, it's maybe...90% sharp.

Crown Princess Mary presented the Designers' Nest awards at Copenhagen Fashion Week last week.
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The least suit-like thing here (she had a matching coat on arrival, sort of, still not suit-ish, hey) is also the most interesting. An interesting color combination accessorized by leopard print shoes, which I love. Leopard as a neutral is nearly as excellent as a purple neutral in my book.

06 February 2018

Tuesday Tidbits for February 6: Birthdays and Wedding Days

Loads of new portraits and more:

--The date is set for the second British royal wedding of the year: Princess Eugenie will marry Jack Brooksbank on October 12th, it was announced last week. The wedding will take place at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, as previously announced. [BBC]

--Princess Beatrix turned 80 last week! The Dutch royal household released some photos taken last autumn of the former queen at her home, Drakensteyn Castle, with her dog and with all the kids and grandkids. (She lives in an octagonal castle surrounded by a moat, by the way. Possibly the cutest royal residence around.) [Photos: RVD/Jeroen van der Meyde]




--The Swedish royal family is celebrating the 200th birthday of the Bernadotte dynasty, so naturally there are new official portraits (one with and one without Princess Estelle were released). As you can tell by Victoria's outfit, the new photos were taken on the day of the Nobel ceremony last year.
Thron Ullberg/Kungahuset.se

--If you're in Stockholm in the next several weeks, you have an opportunity to see some royal fashion up close and personal: "Secrets of Couture" at Sven-Harry’s Art Museum features dresses from Queen Margrethe, Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, Princess Madeleine, and Princess Sofia. See how many you can spot in the video below. The exhibition runs through April 2. [GALA Magazine]

--And finally, over at the Jewel Vault: I'm loving this rich red on the Queen, but opinions seem divided on the hat.


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!

05 February 2018

Royal Outfits of the Day: Ceremonies in Spain

Two formal events went down in Spain last week (among the usual assortment of engagements), while we were occupied in Scandinavia.

House of HM the King
Event #1: King Felipe celebrated his 50th birthday by formally presenting the Princess of Asturias with the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece. Twelve-year-old Leonor was awarded the prestigious honor in 2015, for her tenth birthday.

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The actual golden collar was on display while Leonor was bestowed with the smaller insignia, worn on a bow for women.

It's a formal event and an historical one, a landmark in the life of this future queen, but watch the video if you didn't last week. It's mostly just a very proud family moment. (Complete with little curtseys from the princess of the hour for her parents and paternal grandparents!) Very sweet indeed.

House of HM the King
As for the fashion and such, Queen Letizia chose not to debut anything on her daughter's big day, opting for a repeated Felipe Varela ensemble. Sartorially it all checks out, because of course it does. The Spains know how to do these sorts of events.

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Event #2: King Felipe and Queen Letizia hosted a diplomatic reception, an event with the same long skirt dress code we see at the Pascua Militar. This Varela combo was worn to that event in 2016, in fact; the top underneath was changed a bit (for the better, I'd say), but on the whole it was serviceable then and it is serviceable now. And that's that.

02 February 2018

Royal Trip of the Day: The Cambridges in Norway, Day 1

The splendor that many of us had hoped this trip would bring finally arrived. It just took a trip to Norway and a dinner hosted by a king and queen to make it happen.

On the first day of their trip to Norway, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended a dinner at the Royal Palace hosted in their honor by King Harald and Queen Sonja. Crown Prince Haakon, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, Princess Märtha Louise, and Princess Astrid were also present.
Kensington Palace
Ah, gowns! Good ones! A print for Märtha Louise, a favored shiny purple repeat for Sonja, and a bright coral for Astrid flanked the evening's two standout pale dresses for Kate and Mette-Marit (and, of course, the gentlemen in their tuxes).

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The only thing wrong with this Alexander McQueen dress is that Kate doesn't have any state banquets coming up where she could pair it with a tiara. It's an elegant way to do a maternity gown and it has wonderful movement, because CAPE.

Kensington Palace
She didn't forget to bring along her diamonds, either: both the Diamond Pendant Earrings and the Wedding Gift Bracelet are on loan from the Queen.

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After a 2017 wardrobe that left many of us with a general feeling of sartorial ennui, Mette-Marit's coming out swinging for 2018. This metallic gem is fabulously detailed and a great spin on her usual fare. (Also: excellent deployment of a red lip.)

On arrival earlier in the day, the Duke and Duchess were greeted by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess and met with the royal family at the palace. They were then joined by Princess Ingrid Alexandra for a visit to the Princess Ingrid Alexandra Sculpture Park.
Kensington Palace
The family that blue coats together stays together, I guess. (With twin red scarves thrown in for good measure.) Kate's really loading up on her Catherine Walker for this trip - and she wouldn't miss an opportunity for another blue coat.

Kensington Palace
Nor an opportunity for another blue dress! This one's from Séraphine. Queen Sonja's looking sharp in white, as she always does.

Sven Gj. Gjeruldsen, Det kongelige hoff
 (The Norwegian royal court gives us photos of the gifts exchanged between the royals, because they know we're nosy like that, which is nice of them.)

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Outside, I have no applause for the added furry hat; I have several claps and an approving nod for Queen Sonja's splendidly bright coat and scarf combo; I have a standing ovation for the person that picked this rainbow sculpture for the park, because that's how you make a great photo op.

The trip ends Friday, phew!

01 February 2018

Royal Trip of the Day: The Cambridges in Sweden, Day 2

Here's how I've decided this whole thing played out: "How dare people call my mustard floral gown upholstery," the Duchess of Cambridge fumed. "That was not upholstery. I'll show you upholstery," she exclaimed.

On the evening of the second full day of their official visit to Sweden, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge joined Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel for a reception in Stockholm.
Kensington Palace
Show us she sure did, in floral blue velvet from Erdem again. Definitely more upholstery-esque to this pair of eyes, but my definite favorite of the back-to-back Erdems.

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On arrival, the Duchess used her "diplomatic dressing" concept as a cover to add another black coat to her growing pile, opting for one from Swedish designer Ida Sjöstedt. Sjöstedt has been really popular with the Swedish princesses in the past few years, making all sorts of outfits from Princess Sofia's wedding gown to the dress Crown Princess Victoria wore the day before.

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For the evening event, Victoria also stuck to Swedish design and her designer from the evening before. A most unfortunate decision in this case, I'm afraid. It's just...oof.

The two couples also teamed up for engagements during the day.
Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace
Day two also repeated day one in that safer choices prevailed during the daytime and the coats were the best part of the deal for both ladies. In case you missed it the first 700 or so times I've said it, give me alllllll the houndstooth, including this snappy red version from Catherine Walker.

Raphael Stecksén/Kungahuset.se
Underneath those coats, Victoria's pantsuit begs you to debate the merits of pastel safari jackets, while Kate ordered up just about the most basic model you can get from Alexander McQueen. William was doing his part for diplomatic fashion too, by the way: his sweater is from Swedish brand Acne.

Also on day two, the Crown Princess couple hosted the Cambridges at their home, Haga Palace, and William and Kate had the biggest honor of the their trip (I'm sure): a private audience with Princess Estelle and Prince Oscar.
Raphael Stecksén/Kungahuset.se
Raphael Stecksén/Kungahuset.se
Next up for the traveling Cambridge circus: Norway!