16 November 2018

Royal Outfits of the Day: Kate's Repeats

The Duchess of Cambridge's been on a repeat streak lately, have you noticed? Not everything has been a repeat, obvs, but she added two more to the list this week:

On Wednesday, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited South Yorkshire.
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She did some shopping in the expansive blue section of her wardrobe first, bringing out this Eponine London number from last year. Serviceable then, serviceable now.

On Thursday, the Duke and Duchess visited BBC Broadcasting House during Anti-Bullying Week.
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Then it was time for the third appearance of this Emilia Wickstead dress. This engagement featured perhaps the strongest speech William's ever given, calling out technology companies for their lack of action on cyberbullying. (You can read it here or watch it here.) Which means that it was a smart choice for Kate to dig out a repeated outfit, because it kept the fashion conversation to a minimum and left more space for coverage of the speech. It wasn't the day for her to debut the head-to-toe neon zebra ensemble she's definitely got sitting in the back of her closet.

I've seen a lot of theorizing on why, since returning from maternity leave, Kate's been in a repeat mood. But most explanations you want to throw at it will work (she's just reviewed the floor plans for the future Royal Coat Museum and it turns out the square footage situation is already a nightmare!), so I have a different question for you: not why but what?

For the purposes of our Friday frivolity, what do you want to see her dust off next? Today I'm feeling like that Armani suit needs another round...

15 November 2018

Royal Jewels of the Day: Marie Antoinette's Jewels at the Bourbon Parma Auction

Looking for the Prince of Wales' birthday party coverage? Click right here to check it out at the Jewel Vault.

Yesterday, Sotheby's auctioned what they called "one of the most important royal jewelry collections ever to come to auction," a collection of jewels belonging to the Bourbon Parma family. The sale offered the tantalizing prospect of owning jewels that belonged to Marie Antoinette - some of which hadn't been seen in public in 200 years. Add in jewels that come from the rest of the family's long and rich royal roots, including Habsburg heritage, and you have a sale chock full of history.

When King Louis XVI and Queen Marie-Antoinette prepared to flee Paris in 1791, the Queen packed her diamonds, rubies, and pearls into a wooden chest and sent them to the care of her family in Vienna. The King and Queen were captured and later executed in 1793. Their only surviving child, Marie-Thérèse (known as Madame Royale) was released a few years later and made it to Austria. There she was able to collect her mother's jewels from her cousin, the Austrian Emperor.

The Marie Antoinette jewels at this auction went from Marie-Thérèse to her niece and adoptive daughter, Louise Marie Thérèse of Artois, Duchess of Parma. The gems then traveled down Louise's tree of descendants to her son, Robert I, Duke of Parma, and then his son, Elias, and his wife Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria.

Sotheby's
The highlight of the auction was this "exceptional and highly important natural pearl and diamond pendant", a natural drop-shaped pearl. As set when owned by Marie Antoinette, it was the pendant on a three row pearl necklace.

Sotheby's
The pearl pendant had a pre-sale estimate of $992,810 - $1,975,692. It sold for $36,165,090. Yes, that's right. THIRTY-SIX MILLION DOLLARS. Technically $32 million plus fees. (You could say there was a bit of hype around this auction.) Sotheby's says that's a record price paid for a pearl at auction. The buyer has so far wished to remain anonymous.

Sotheby's
This triple strand of pearls was used to hold the pearl pendant above originally; the pearls have been restrung since then and the necklace is now shorter. The necklace brought in the second highest price at the auction: $2,278,499.

Sotheby's
Third highest price at the auction went to another piece with  Marie Antoinette history, a double ribbon bow design set with cushion-shaped and circular-cut diamonds dating from the second half of the 18th century. It has a supporting a detachable pear-shaped diamond pendant of yellow tint, probably dating from the early 19th century. Price: $2,099,793.

Sotheby's
The highest price for a tiara at the sale went to this very symbolic diadem. The diamond tiara is attributed to Hübner in 1912 and includes fleur de lys motifs millegrain-set with multiple cuts of diamonds. The three largest motifs are detachable and can be worn as brooches. The diamonds were originally set in a plaque of the order of the Saint-Esprit of Charles X, King of France. Price: $967,990.

Sotheby's
This "superb diamond demi-parure" went for $848,853. The diamonds come from Charles Ferdinand d’Artois, Duke of Berry, Charles X’s son; Marie-Thérèse of France, Madame Royale, Marie Antoinette’s daughter; and Princess Isabelle of Croÿ, Archduchess Frederich of Austria.

Sotheby's
The demi-parure consists of a diamond rivière composed of a graduated row of cushion-shaped diamond collets, with detachable pear-shaped pendants; a brooch set with cushion-shaped diamonds, with three detachable pear-shaped diamond pendants; and a pair of earrings, each set with a cushion-shaped diamond. The brooch can also be worn as a clasp for the diamond rivière.

That's just a few of the highlights from the auction. One of the most important royal jewelry collections ever to come to auction sounds about right to me.

14 November 2018

Tiara Watch of the Day: Sweden's State Visit from Italy

The Swedish royal family welcomed the President of Italy and his daughter for a state visit yesterday with all the appropriate pomp and circumstance - glittering state banquet included.

Quirinale
Welcome ceremony first, though. This is a loose blue color scheme for the ladies and I like the assortment very much. I don't often have a lot to say about Queen Silvia but there's some frills here and some accent teal and I'm digging the combo. Crown Princess Victoria's blue is nicely detailed; I won't be surprised if some other royal Hugo Boss aficionados pick up Princess Sofia's dress.

By Malina Ginger Dress in Dove Blue for Victoria; Hugo Boss Contoured Business Dress in Blue for Sofia (per Heaven)

For the state banquet, some pretty big jewels came out to play. (Yay!)

Queen Silvia's not about to let the fact that she chose a blue stone (the luscious Leuchtenberg Sapphire Parure) stop her from wearing purple. Atta queen. Her sash is the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, same as the other members of the royal family are wearing.

Crown Princess Victoria was the one that really surprised me. The Bernadotte Emerald Demi-Parure is a big set and I love seeing these pieces become a more regular part of her repertoire, combined with a new gown and the Six Button Tiara. This is, like, Nobel-level dressing up. I APPROVE.

Zetterberg Couture for Sofia (also per Heaven)
Princess Sofia's skirt is actually from a wedding collection, yet it doesn't ping overly bridal to me. I'm always game to see how a ball skirt is styled. She left the green gems to her sister-in-law and wore her Wedding Tiara without emeralds.

Is this a warm up for next month's Nobels? Because I'm ready.

13 November 2018

Royal Outfits of the Day: Letizia and Mathilde

Just a couple of queens, going about their queenly business.

King Felipe and Queen Letizia started a state visit to Peru yesterday.
House of HM the King
Unfortunately for Letizia, that queenly business isn't quite as glam on this state visit as it would be back home; they didn't have a big fancy state banquet. (And when I say unfortunately for Letizia, I mean unfortunately for us.) Letizia has a new Carolina Herrera dress and it is fine. Stripes! What's not to like?

The King and Queen attended the Valencian Economy Night last week.
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I'll get some jewels in here somehow, don't you worry. Letizia's black diamond earrings and the bracelets from the joyas de pasar spiced up her repeated Hugo Boss jumpsuit at this previous event. That's how you do it.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde commemorated the centenary of the armistice with events including a special Last Post ceremony and a concert with the Canadian Governor General as a guest.
Belgian Monarchy
Belgian Monarchy
Queen Mathilde's always going to look sharp when she needs to, she's got this down pat. Her green concert outfit is a repeat, but I'm here for any time she wants to throw in some accent accessories. The blush pink shoes and bag make the look for me.

12 November 2018

Monday Tidbits for November 12: Birthdays and Remembrance

In case you didn't tune in over the weekend:

--A lot of remembrance events are happening since this year marks the centenary of the armistice. We covered the British royal remembrance events in full over at the Vault, so hop over there to get caught up: Festival of Remembrance, Remembrance Sunday, and the Armistice Centenary Service.
MOD Crown copyright 2018

--Additionally, Prince Harry visited the Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey again. It's a solemn duty but regimental mascots will always lighten up the mood. That's Watchman VI, the incoming mascot for the Staffordshire Regiment Association, terribly excited to see the royal guest. Watchman V, the outgoing mascot, is over it. Seen plenty of royal guests in his day. [Zimbio]
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--In Japan, the imperial family held their Autumn Garden Party. The great news here is that Crown Princess Masako was able to attend the full party for the first time in 15 years. (Also there were kimonos, which is always great news.) [Imperial Family of Japan Blog, NHK]

--I didn't really care for the documentary on the Queen and the Commonwealth earlier this year, but the BBC did a good job with another one for the Prince of Wales' 70th birthday. Prince, Son and Heir: Charles at 70 is available here (as of this writing). Here's the best bit:
Chaz is as delighted by turkeys as his mother is by cows, this family loves their livestock.

--That documentary gave us a new photo of Prince Charles bonding with Prince Louis and the Duchess of Cambridge. New stamps released for his birthday give us a new portrait of Charles with Prince William and Prince Harry. [Hello]
Royal Mail

--And finally, also over at the Jewel Vault: The Queen herself says these diamonds are "magnificent ones". 


Coming up this week: Spain is out state visiting, Charles has his birthday, 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!

09 November 2018

Royal Outfits of the Day: Earrings & Lace with Mary & Kate

Finishing the week with two ladies who unknowingly coordinated on the same fabulous theme: mega earrings with lotsa lace.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the Tusk Conservation Awards last night.
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It's baaaaaack! Kate finally repeated the Jenny Packham teal dress that's been a fan favorite ever since she wore it in 2012. Still a fan favorite?

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The first appearance, at the Team GB gala in 2012.
I'm gonna say yes, with the caveat that I miss the updo. She gave it a MAJOR earring upgrade this time, going from faux stones to Diamond Chandelier Earrings on loan from the Queen - but you can only see them in select pictures from the night. (Also, remember the back? Crime to cover that up, really.)

Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary attended a dinner as their tour of Italy continued this week.
Mary's right in step, making her contribution with a Dolce & Gabbana basic black lace dress. (Italian designers for an Italian trip, see. She also wore some Armani.) And she's still doing her part to further the Purple Is The New Black cause, bless.

Shabana Earrings by Amrita Singh
Also doing her part for today's mega earring theme! Not mega in value, perhaps, but about as mega in scale as you can get. Maybe would've preferred something with a silver tone to go with the purple, though? 

During their trip, the crown princely couple had an audience with the Pope.
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This one works with our theme too. Mary stuck to the traditional choices when visiting the Vatican, black with a veil. Traditional jewelry, even, adding a brooch and wearing pearl and diamond earrings. I detect a collar clash between her coat and shirt, but the rest of this is pretty solid.

08 November 2018

Tiara Thursday: Queen Alexandrine’s Russian Sapphire Tiara

Multiple readers have contacted me about news of this tiara coming up for auction. I hear ya, let's cover it:

Queen Alexandrine's Russian Sapphire Tiara
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers
Queen Alexandrine’s Russian Sapphire Tiara was a gift to Princess Alexandrine of Mecklenburg-Schwerin (1879-1952) when she married Prince Christian of Denmark in 1898. The couple later became King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine. The tiara was given by Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia. Nicholas II, descended from the Danish royal family through his mother, was a cousin of the groom. The bride had Russian family connections as well, firstly through her mother, Grand Duchess Anastasia Mikhailovna.

Queen Alexandrine's Russian Sapphire Tiara
This imperial wedding gift diadem is attributed to jewelers C.E. Bolin in St. Petersburg, circa 1897-1898. There are eight oval-cut Ceylon sapphires weighing 33 carats in total, with old mine- and single-cut diamonds weighing 53 carats in total. The piece is mounted in gold and silver and the base is wrapped in velvet ribbon.

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Queen Margrethe wearing a different set of sapphires from Queen Alexandrine
Queen Alexandrine had another magnificent set of sapphires that is currently in the collection of Queen Margrethe and includes earrings, a necklace, and a brooch/pendant. Another sapphire and diamond brooch of Queen Alexandrine’s is now with Princess Marie, who regularly wears it as a pendant or brooch.

Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde wears an earlier version of the tiara
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers
The Russian Sapphire Tiara, however, went down another branch of the family. It became a wedding gift once more when King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine presented it to Princess Caroline-Mathilde of Denmark on her marriage to their second son, Prince Knud, in 1933. Prince Knud became the Hereditary Prince of Denmark when his brother, King Frederik IX, ascended the throne in 1947. Because Frederik IX had daughters but no sons, Knud was his heir. Hereditary Prince Knud was moved down in the line of succession in 1953, however, because the Danish Act of Succession was changed to allow women to inherit the throne. Frederik’s eldest daughter, Margrethe – the current Queen of Denmark – then became the next in line.

Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde wears pieces of the tiara as a necklace, with Princess Thyra's Sapphire Tiara
The Russian Sapphire Tiara was originally a flexible piece able to be worn in several ways. Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde wore it as a smaller tiara and as a necklace before having it set in the larger tiara format it has today. The Hereditary Princess also had another sapphire tiara, Princess Thyra’s Sapphire Tiara, which she is shown wearing above. That tiara later went to Caroline-Mathilde’s daughter, Princess Elisabeth, who passed away in June 2018.

On her death in 1995, Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde left the Russian Sapphire Tiara to her youngest child, Count Christian of Rosenborg, and his family. It was worn by Count Christian’s wife, Countess Anne Dorte, to multiple Danish royal events. Count Christian passed away in 2013; Countess Anne Dorte passed away in 2014.

The tiara is held by Martin Hans Borg, Bruun Rasmussen's specialist in art and antiques from Russia
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers of Fine Arts
The tiara is now the property of their three daughters, who have chosen to sell it. The tiara will be the highlight of an auction on November 30, 2018 at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen. The auction press release includes a comment from Count Ingolf of Rosenborg, the only living child of Hereditary Prince Knud and Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde:
"As a boy, the jewellery of the ladies wasn’t exactly at the top of my mind. But my mother, Hereditary Princess Caroline-Mathilde, received the piece of jewellery as a wedding gift from my grandmother and grandfather (her in-laws, King Christian X and Queen Alexandrine), which was originally a gift from my grandmother and grandfather's relatives – Tsar Nikolai II and Tsaritsa Alexandra of Russia. It was a Russian piece of jewellery with sapphires and diamonds, which my mother used both as a necklace and as a bandeau, as can be seen in photographs from back then. At a later date, my mother had the jewellery changed to its present form, and I remember very well her wearing this Russian sapphire tiara."
The auction house has done additional research to document the tiara’s provenance, clarifying that the tiara was a gift from the Tsar and Tsarina in both newspaper reports of the time and by finding a bill that included a similar description. The diadem’s auction estimate is set at DKK 1,500,000-2,000,000 (about $225,000-$300,000).

07 November 2018

Royal Outfit of the Day: Crown Princess Mary in Italy

Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary are on an official visit to Italy. You will be 0% surprised to see that Mary started off with some princess perfection.

The Crown Prince and Crown Princess were received by the President of Italy and his daughter
Palazzo del Quirinale
See? This is a perfect understanding of the occasion. It's not a state visit, so no need to go all out with a hat and all that jazz; a structured white dress made interesting with texture and a belt is the right level of formal. She threw a brooch on there for good measure.

Palazzo del Quirinale
Both the brooch and earrings are from Ole Lynggaard, representing for Danish design as she usually does.

Ole Lynggaard
The Leaf Brooch in 18 karat gold was designed by Charlotte Lynggaard. You may remember it from the larger Leaf Hair Jewel she wore to King Carl Gustaf's birthday dinner in 2016.

Ole Lynggaard
The earrings are from the Winter Frost collection (stud and pendant), in 18 karat white gold with diamonds. These are so delicate and just *chef kiss*.

Mary wasn't just princess perfect on day 1, she was also princess practical and princess prepared - with a shoe change on hand for a visit to the Baths of Caracalla.
No point in trying to hoof it around landmarks in your heels, man. My mom and the Keds that carried her from the parking lot to the office back in the day approve. (Lemme also draw your attention to Fred in the three piece suit there. Giving it a bit of effort himself.)

06 November 2018

Tuesday Tidbits for November 6: Birthdays and Families and More

Here we go:

--There's an interesting profile of the Prince of Wales in Vanity Fair for his 70th birthday. Maybe more interesting in terms of the Duchess of Cornwall, but a good read and some nice new portraits of the couple from the photographer that shot Harry and Meghan's engagement and wedding photos. [Vanity Fair]

--Speaking of Cams: Over at the Jewel Vault, she brought along a very sparkly new debut jewel for the couple's ongoing tour of West Africa.

--Couple of family events in Spain recently. First, the Princess of Asturias delivered her first public speech, reading a portion of Spain's constitution at an event marking its 40th anniversary. Leonor is 13, the same age her father was when he read his first speech. She did wonderfully well and had lots of support from her proud family, of course. [Hello]

--Second, Queen Sofia celebrated her 80th birthday with a concert and a family lunch. The group photo from the lunch released by the royal household is notable because it includes Infanta Cristina. Cristina has been mainly kept out of stuff like this due to an ongoing corruption scandal, for which her husband is currently serving a jail term.
House of HM the King

--And finally, a museum alert for you: Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams comes to the V&A in London on February 2. You can check out Princess Margaret's famous Dior birthday dress, among other splendors. [Harper's Bazaar]

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 November 2018

Royal Dress of the Day: Princess Beatrice's Sparkly Bow

Always good to start the week with something sparkly n' glam.

Princess Beatrice attended the 9th Annual Global Gift Gala on Friday.
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Gucci's been doing these trompe l'oeil bows for a while now, with varying degrees of success. The dress Beatrice picked is absolutely one of the better deployments of the faux bow design - the sequin embellishment brings all the interest to what would otherwise be a very boring gown. Well chosen, I think.

Gucci contrast bow-tied maxi dress from the Pre-Fall 2018 collection

02 November 2018

Royal Outfits of the Day: Camilla & Kate Lead the Other British Stuff

As the Sussexes wound down their marathon tour, another leading Windsor lady poked her head back out and another leading Windsor couple embarked on a journey of their own.

The Duchess of Cambridge visited the Imperial War Museum.
Kensington Palace
Kate had an embargoed engagement this week visiting the Imperial War Museum to see items relating to her own family; her great-grandmother's three brothers all fought and lost their lives in World War I.
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She repeated the blue Jenny Packham dress she wore on arrival in Canada in 2016, which looks quite different with her hair down and covering the collar (it's also covering most of her poppy brooch). I'd still rate it the same as I did when it took home my prize for her best of 2016: prim and proper, but lovely in a thoroughly princess-y way. It's pretty much always going to be appropriate.

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall began a tour of West Africa with a visit to The Gambia.
President Barrow Twitter
Meanwhile, Charles and Camilla headed off on another royal tour, and Camilla hit it out of the park on engagement #1. She's settled on long tunic tops and flowing trousers for any travel to warm locales (high temperatures are apparently tough for her) (same, Cams). This Anna Valentine version may be my favorite yet, with rich gold embellishment on a crisp ivory background. Such a great solution for her.

Clarence House
The evening gown version of that uniform was on order for the official dinner hosted by the President and First Lady of The Gambia. It's your basic sparkleblergh for Camilla (again by Anna Valentine), but I spy her Magic Alhambra Diamond Earrings and those override everything else for me.

01 November 2018

Tiara Thursday: Princess Ayako's Tiara (and Wedding!)

Princess Ayako's Tiara
The princesses of the Japanese imperial family are all presented with tiaras when they officially come of age at 20 years old. These tiaras are often newly made (Mikimoto is a regular jeweler), are always completed in white jewels (diamonds, sometimes with pearls), and are accompanied by a complete parure (matched set) with a necklace and other jewels. The tiara of Princess Ayako follows these guidelines, with a few design twists to set it apart.

Princess Ayako
Princess Ayako of Takamado (as she is now formerly known) is the daughter of the late Prince Takamado, a first cousin of Emperor Akihito, and Princess Hisako. She came of age in 2010 and received a diamond tiara designed in stalks of a floral motif.

Princess Ayako (far right) at the New Year Reception, 2016, with her mother Princess Hisako (in green) and sister Princess Tsuguko (in ivory), and Princesses Akiko (pink) and Yōko (blue) of Mikasa
Whereas many of the imperial family tiaras avoid using motifs from nature and are almost overwhelmingly symmetrical - including many with necklaces that are near-perfect mirrors of the tiara - Ayako's parure sets itself apart with an asymmetrical floral design, a different format for the necklace, and even a fuller interpretation of the motif in her earrings. Her sister, Princess Noriko (now known as Noriko Senge), also had a parure that dipped into an asymmetrical nature design: Princess Noriko's Wave Tiara.

Ayako at the Choken-no-Gi
In accordance with Imperial Household Law, Princess Ayako renounced her title and her official place in the imperial family when she married a commoner, Kei Moriya. (Only officially - she isn't being cut off from her family - and the government gives a lump sum payment to departing princesses. Ayako received $950,000.) She wore this tiara for the last time on October 26, 2018, when she visited the Emperor and Empress for her official farewell, the Choken-no-Gi ceremony.

The tiaras of princesses that leave the family revert back to the imperial household. They may occasionally reappear as a second option for another person, or may be reconfigured. Princess Ayako's Tiara may not be seen again, or if it is, probably not for some time.

For Ayako, though, she still had another tiara appearance to go.

The couple arrive for their wedding
The happy couple married on October 29 at the Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo. Ayako Moriya, as she will now be known, arrived in a light yellow uchiki kimono with floral embroidery and changed into a red kouchiki robe. Kei Moriya carried a top hat that belonged to the late Prince Takamado with his morning dress. "I am awed by how blessed I am," the bride said, noting how happy she was to hold the wedding at the shrine where her great-grandfather is worshiped. "I feel so happy." For his part, the groom said his new wife looked "beautiful" and said, "I would like to support her firmly and, hand in hand, build a happy family with lots of laughter."

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A wedding banquet was held later with Crown Prince Naruhito, Crown Princess Masako, and other members of the imperial family in attendance. Ayako surprised by wearing a tiara! It's a necklace that belongs to her mother, actually; you can see Princess Hisako wearing it here.

It's not a very successful necklace/tiara conversion, to be honest, but it's just lovely to see her enjoy a bejeweled bridal moment anyway. Her dress is quite a conversation piece, too - you can see more in the video above. She seemed to enjoy letting her hair down (literally and figuratively) from the strict dress code of the imperial family, and I say more power to her.