26 November 2011

Gold Star: Queens with Diplomatic Flair

Dressing diplomatically is an art form, if you ask me. The outfits on a royal foreign trip are not the point of the thing - even someone as frivolous as I can admit that - but when they're done just right, they can help the whole operation along. A detail here or there can be just the thing, a little exclamation point, to emphasize thoughtfulness, consideration, and respect for the other country. Today we're handing out gold stars to two queens for just such exclamation points.

Many of you have asked to be kept updated on the lovely new Queen of Bhutan, so here you go: it seems the photogenic King and Queen haven't stopped moving since the wedding. They've paid state visits to India and Japan, and have touched down in Singapore and Thailand. This past week has seen them visit the United Kingdom. Talk about your trial by fire, and for a 21-year-old queen at that: Jetsun Pema laughs in the face of royal brides taking the slow route into their new lives!
Naturally, she's brought with her a whole array of colorful national dress options, some of which are shown above. It's nice not to have to spend time coming up with synonyms for beige for a change, isn't it?

We also got a few tastes of her Western style, just for a little variety.
Well, there's that beige problem again, but the only thing we can conclude here is that Her Majesty has a taste for expensive handbags: I spy Chanel and an elusive Hermès Birkin bag.

This is not what she gets her gold star for, though. Diplomatic dressing, that's our point here.
Her white outfit, worn while debuting the King's photography book in New Delhi, is both gorgeous and the perfect nod to Indian style; but the real winner is the kimono in Japan. Their visit seemed to be a great success, and gamely sporting another culture's national dress is the perfect sartorial expression to sum it up. Well played.

From a 21-year-old queen just getting her feet wet to one that's the definition of a pro, our second gold star goes out to Queen Elizabeth.
This week saw the Queen host a state visit to Britain from Turkey, including some married people cuteness and a little forward-facing side-eye directed at the First Lady's intriguing taste in footwear. (Suddenly I'm dying if she noticed Sheikha Mozah's icicle boots.)
It's the state banquet, though, that gets our star. And not just because she seems to have decided to go with "giant diamonds" as her accessory theme for the night, either (though that's certainly grounds on its own). She chose this night as her first public outing of Queen Victoria's magnificent waterfall brooch, and it was no mistake: the brooch includes diamonds given to Victoria by the Sultan of Turkey. Sneaky little diplomatic gesture, isn't it?
She wore the brooch with the coronation necklace (also from Queen Victoria) and a pair of earrings once worn by her mother which were another fabulous part of the Greville inheritance. The brooch is supposed to be a part of the summer exhibit at Buckingham Palace next year, "Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration". Start shopping for plane tickets now if you need them, kids.
Another notable brooch popped out to say farewell to the Turkish guests: an emerald carved with a rose on the front and surrounded by diamonds, a gift from the Ladies of India to Queen Mary for the Delhi Durbar in 1911.
Since we're talking jewels, you know, as we do, this trip also gave us good shots of two royal ladies we don't usually get to see in their state visit finery: Princess Anne sat in Camilla's spot for the banquet (Camilla was out sick) wearing the Festoon Tiara, and Princess Michael played the lead royal lady role at the Guildhall banquet (that's usually the Duchess of Gloucester's spot these days). She wore one of my favorite Kent tiaras, an oh-so-pretty diamond and pearl number, and paired it with a rather costume-ish bodice decoration. I suspect that it's fake (look at the size of those pearls!) and that it might even be a part of the gown, which is...odd. She did manage to cover up appropriately for the devout Muslim guest of honor, so I suppose points have to be awarded for that.

Do you have a favorite moment from these trips?

Photos: Getty Images/Reuters/Daylife/Hello/Royal Collection