30 April 2012

Royal Splendor 101: Queen Beatrix's Accession

Beatrix and Juliana on the balcony following the abdication ceremony
"Abdication" is practically a dirty word for many monarchies, but not for all: the Dutch, for example, have made it a tradition over the years. In recent history, Queen Wilhelmina abdicated for her daughter Juliana and then when the time came, Queen Juliana abdicated in favor of her daughter Beatrix.
The abdication
The abdication occurred on the morning of April 30, 1980 - Queen Juliana's 71st birthday. With a round of signatures, the throne transferred and Beatrix became Queen of the Netherlands. She was 42 years old and had three sons with her husband Prince Claus. Juliana became known once again as Princess Juliana, and died in 2004.
The investiture
With no need to wait for the end of a mourning period and plenty of time to plan (Juliana announced her plans to abdicate on January 31st), the investiture of the new queen took place on the same day. The Dutch do not have a coronation, exactly, but they do get out the ermine robe for the new monarch. The Crown regalia is displayed during the ceremony, but the crown is not worn.
Beatrix wore the Pearl Button Tiara while she swore her oath to her people and the constitution of the Netherlands in front of dignitaries and representatives from foreign royal families in the Nieuwe Kerk. Unfortunately, Beatrix's big day was scarred by violence outside, as protests about poor housing conditions and the monarchy turned ugly.

After taking the reins, Beatrix announced that the official celebration of her birthday - Koninginnedag, or Queen's Day - would remain on April 30th in honor of her mother (Beatrix's own January birthday was not conducive to outside celebration anyway). The extended royal family joins in celebrations around the country, visiting different locations each year. Street fairs and festivals and merriment ensue.

This year marks Beatrix's 32nd on the throne, and people continue as they have for several years to speculate that an abdication might be imminent. Known as the Prince of Orange, Beatrix's oldest son Willem-Alexander is next in line for the throne. He's set to become the first King of the Netherlands since Willem III died in 1890. But since he and wife Princess Máxima have only daughters, the line will swing back to a queen regnant when Catharina-Amalia, the Hereditary Princess of Orange, takes the throne.

Photos: National Archives

Gold Star: Lovely Ladies in Lace

Black lace can be tricky, don't you think? I mean, I can't think of another fabric that can vary so wildly and so quickly between utter tart and depressed Morticia in Victorian mourning. But when you get it right, when you hit just the right balance...sometimes there's nothing better. And two royal ladies have caused the jumpy claps this past week for doing just that.

I have been hoping that a royal lady would sport this Collette Dinnigan dress since I saw it on Rachel McAdams and Nicole Kidman. It's just so lovely, this dress. Feminine and lovely and lovely some more. I hope for stuff like that all the time, and it never happens. But it happened! Crown Princess Mary made it happen, at an awards ceremony on Sunday. Jumpy claps! More exclamation points!!

But before Mary did that, Princess Letizia had a little jumpy clap action all her own happening.
This new Felipe Varela number is one of those things that only Letizia could wear, and she does it so right. Feminine and lovely all over again, and just delightful.

Gold stars all around!

Photos: b.dk/bt.dk/Mujer Delite

29 April 2012

Sunday Brooch: The True Lover's Knot

You aren't too tired of Queen Mary's taste in diamonds coming off a week of Cullinans, are you? I hope you have room for one more, as it only seemed fitting to showcase this brooch on April 29th.
Queen Mary's True Lover's Knot Brooch
Of all the bow brooches in the queen's collection, this is the biggest and fanciest. Naturally, she has Queen Mary to thank for that; Mary acquired the brooch from Garrard in the early 1930s.
Queen Mary
The brooch features brilliant cut diamonds set in silver and gold tied in a "lover's knot". The scalloped ribbon has joints on each of the "tails" to allow the ends to move. It was among multiple bow brooches (the Royal Collection reports 5, Hugh Roberts reports 6) in Queen Mary's collection, and was left to the current queen on Mary's death in 1953.
Queen Elizabeth
Being so large and so sparkly, we usually see this one in the evening. It does its duty anchoring sashes and so forth. And when we see it in the daytime, it feels like a special treat.
Queen Elizabeth
Notable day showings include a stint anchoring poppies on Remembrance Day (left, above) Princess Margaret's wedding (center) and its most famous appearance to date at Prince William's wedding (right), one year ago today.

Photos: Leslie Field/Daylife

27 April 2012

Top 10: The Queen's Best Diamonds

The countdown is done! My personal list of Queen Elizabeth's 10 best diamonds, right here:

What would make your list of her best diamonds?

Photos: The Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II/Leslie Field

The Cullinans, Part 6: The Ring and the Rest

The Cullinan IX Ring, and Queen Elizabeth wearing it (along with Granny's chips and her engagement ring)
The last of the numbered Cullinan chips is Cullinan IX, a pear shape diamond weighing 4.39 carats. Queen Mary had it set in a ring in a claw setting, which was then inherited by Queen Elizabeth. Of course, with the amount of glove-wearing going on in the queen’s life, the occasions on which to actually see a ring like this are relatively few. (Sad!)

That's the end of the numbered stones but if you recall, there are still bits remaining: 96 small brilliants and 10 or so carats of unpolished pieces, what was left over when the large stones were cut and polished. Where have they gone?
Queen Mary and her daughter, Princess Mary (Mary is also wearing Cullinans VI and VIII)
According to Leslie Field, this pendant necklace worn by Queen Mary includes some of those bits and pieces; also according to Field, Queen Elizabeth doesn’t wear it because “it gets in the soup”. (I have no trouble believing that, as she’s taken it upon herself to shorten a few of her necklaces.)

And with that mystery of where any remaining pieces might be, we end the Great Cullinan Adventure and my countdown of Queen Elizabeth's Top 10 Diamonds.

Photos: Leslie Field

Week in Review: Crown Princess Victoria, 15-21 April

  1. State visit from Finland, Day 1, 17 April. Love this little chevron print.
  2. a and b) Day 2, 18 April, in the same dress we saw in little Estelle's official pictures, and a Zara coat that I'm probably going to have to have now.
Photos: Lehtikuva/PurePeople/Abaca

26 April 2012

The Cullinans, Part 5: The Necklace Pendant

Today's episode of the Cullinan Diamond soap opera brings us to a piece where the Cullinan chip is not the headline stone.
The Delhi Durbar Necklace
In 1911, the newly crowned King George V and Queen Mary prepared to head to India to be proclaimed Emperor and Empress of India at the Delhi Durbar. Though it has been reported as having been a gift from the Ladies of India (and is thus sometimes known as the Ladies of India Necklace), it was in fact made by Garrard as part of the rest of the grand parure using the Cambridge emeralds formerly belonging to Mary's grandmother which was prepared for the occasion. The cost was met by George as a birthday present for his wife.
Queen Mary
The necklace includes 8 square and oval cabochon emeralds, each surrounded by diamonds and separated by a large diamond and two strings of smaller diamonds. It has two detachable pendants: a cabochon emerald and a Cullinan chip. This is Cullinan VII, a marquise-cut 8.8 carat diamond. (It is sometimes reported as Cullinan VI - see my comments on this confusion here.) Mary replaced Cullinan VII with a larger chip at least once, as seen on the far right in the first row of Mary pictures here.
Queen Elizabeth
Queen Elizabeth inherited the necklace when Mary died in 1953. Though it isn't the only emerald necklace in her collection, it seems to be her favorite for occasions when emeralds are needed, especially when the emerald version of the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara is worn. 
Queen Elizabeth
Personally, I've never been a big fan of this piece. I prefer nice, boring symmetry when it comes to my necklaces (that is, my hypothetical necklaces...you know).

Photos: The Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II/Leslie Field/Corbis/Getty Images

Random Royal Appreciation: A Luxembourg Tiara Sighting (and an Engagement!)

The Grand Duke and Grand Duchess of Luxembourg, accompanied by their son the Hereditary Grand Duke, have been in Germany for a state visit, where they did typical state visiting things.
Some outfits worn while doing the state visiting things
While you recover from the amazing thoroughness of my event reporting, I'll get to the point: there was a state banquet. A state banquet with tiaras and Elie Saab, also known as my favorite kind of state banquet.
The Grand Duchess wore a Greek goddess Elie Saab number originally featured here back when the frock walked the runway. And just for those of us that care, she brought out one of the rarely used Luxembourg tiaras.
This is a petite bandeau of large warm yellow-orange citrine or topaz oval stones separated by arcs of pearls. Interesting combo, no? And it even comes with a matching parure. We don't see this very often - it was last spotted on Maria Teresa's daughter Princess Alexandra on National Day - but it's quite the example of how versatile the Luxembourg collection is. You can see the tiaras that MT's worn (which is not even the whole collection) here.

And then they came home from Germany, and dropped some major royal news: Guillaume is engaged! The Hereditary Grand Duke will marry Countess Stéphanie de Lannoy later this year. Luxarazzi has a lovely bio of our future Hereditary Grand Duchess. The engagement isn't a huge surprise, since Guillaume publicly acknowledged a relationship during interviews for his 30th birthday last November.
Congrats to the happy couple! They have now been added to our roster of upcoming royal weddings, which coincidentally also includes two of Guillaume's cousins.

UPDATE: The couple have met with the press, dignitaries, and family.
With the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess
With Prince Félix (left), Prince Louis and Princess Tessy (right)
And the cute countess showed off her ring!

If Guillaume picked that out, I'm officially, hugely, jealous that she snagged him. Love love love it!

Photos: Wort/Tageblatt/Daylife/Reuters/Profimedia/Cour Grand-Ducale/Christian Aschman

Week in Review: Princess Mathilde, 15-21 April

  1. Visiting a school, 17 April. My favorite of another typical Mathilde week.
  2. At the awards ceremony for the Inbev-Baillet Latour awards for Health and Clinical Research, 19 April.
  3. Attending a concert at St. Martinus Church, 19 April.
Photos: Zimbio/Getty Images

25 April 2012

The Cullinans, Part 4: The Pendant Brooch

Next up in our review of what’s become of the Cullinan Diamond is a brooch that packs a double Cullinan punch.
The Cullinan VI and VIII Brooch
The top part of this brooch includes Cullinan VIII, an emerald-cut 6.8 carat diamond. One of the South African government's gifts to Queen Mary, she set it in a diamond surround very much like that of the Cullinan V - and just like its heart-shaped friend, Cullinan VIII was also a part of Mary's emerald stomacher.
Mary's emerald stomacher, with Cullinan VIII - the emeralds above and below form a brooch on their own when not in this stomacher
For a purely diamond version, Mary suspended a marquise-cut diamond below. This, of course, was yet another Cullinan chip.
Queen Mary with the diamond version - sometimes forming a mini-stomacher along with the Cullinan V Brooch
According to the Royal Collection, who have exhibited this brooch in the past, the diamond pendant is Cullinan VI. Some sources say it was Cullinan VII instead, which is a slightly smaller marquise diamond. Mary did indeed use Cullinan VII occasionally as the pendant to Cullinan VI. (More on VII here.)
Queen Alexandra with Cullinan VI set in her circlet
At any rate, Cullinan VI is the one Cullinan  piece that King Edward VII bought from Asscher's as a personal gift for his wife, Queen Alexandra. She set the 11.5 carat marquise diamond in the front cross of her Regal Circlet. This too ended up with Queen Mary and the rest of the Cullinans.
Queen Elizabeth
And now, as with the rest, it is with Queen Elizabeth, who inherited the brooch on Mary's death in 1953. She doesn't wear it too often, but every time she does I can't help but think it's much smaller in real life than I expect it to be.

Photos: Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II/Leslie Field/Corbis

Week in Review: Crown Princess Mary, 15-21 April

  1. On the balcony for Queen Margrethe's birthday, 16 April.
  2. At an awards ceremony, 18 April.
  3. At the opening of Research Day 2012, 19 April.
  4. Attending the funeral of Mærsk McKinney Møller, 21 April.
All kinds of cuteness on the balcony for Daisy's 72nd birthday.
Even Marie and her wee one! The little princess' name will finally be made public at her christening on May 20th.

Photos: Purepeople/BT

24 April 2012

The Cullinans, Part 3: The Heart-Shaped Brooch

Today’s entry in the saga of the Cullinan diamonds might not be the most famous one, but it gets more use than any of the rest.
Cullinan V Brooch
Cullinan V is an unusual heart-shaped diamond of 18.8 carats, set in a diamond and platinum surround intended to emphasize the heart shape. Like III and IV, the diamond was a gift from the South African government to Queen Mary.
Queen Mary wearing the brooch (left) and using it as the center of her emerald stomacher (center and right)
Mary used the brooch on its own, but also designed it to go in the center of the large emerald and diamond stomacher made to add to the parure of emeralds she had with emeralds received from India to commemorate the Delhi Durbar in 1911 and the Cambridge emeralds she inherited from her family.
The brooch in the circlet, 1937 coronation
The heart-shaped brooch also did a stint in the circlet created by removing the arches from Queen Mary’s crown; it took the place of the Koh-i-Noor, which Mary gave to the new Queen Elizabeth to use in her crown for the 1937 coronation. And it had a second diadem use too: it fit into the center of the honeysuckle tiara now in the possession of the Duchess of Gloucester.
Queen Elizabeth
The brooch was part of the current queen’s inheritance when Mary died in 1953. Not one for stomachers, she uses it in her traditional brooch fashion.
Queen Elizabeth
This is one of the queen's favorite brooches - which is why I say it gets more use than the rest of the Cullinan diamonds. It may not be as big as Granny's Chips, but wearing an 18.8 carat around is not too shabby either.

Photos: Leslie Field/Corbis/Daylife