28 June 2013

Readers' Ultimate Tiaras: Pick Your Pearls!

Pearls are a staple in a royal jewel vault, don't you agree? Most of the major royal collections have at least one pearl tiara at their disposal, and many have multiple options. Obviously, special space in your ultimate tiara collection should be devoted to pearls - two spaces, to be exact.

Pick your ultimate pearl drop tiara! 


Pick your ultimate standard pearl tiara!

Yes, we have two spots to pick this time around, so let's get to it. I'm splitting this into two distinct categories: pearl drops and just, you know, regular pearl tiaras. (By the way, there are oodles of links here - they will take you either to an entry on this blog with more info, or to a photo of the tiara in use.)

Choice #1: Dangling Pearl Drop

Pearl drop tiaras are defined here as those with dangling pearl drops. It's quite a popular tiara design, these pearl pendants swinging from diamond frameworks, with plenty of examples to pick from.

The British collection offers two prominent examples.

The Cambridge Lover's Knot was originally made as a replica of another tiara. It shouldn't be a surprise, then, to learn that there are multiple lover's knot tiaras out there with close to identical designs.
1. The Yusupova Lover's Knot Tiara, worn by Princess Tatiana Alexandrovna Yusupova
2. The Bavarian Lover's Knot Tiara, worn by Antonia, Crown Princess of Bavaria
3. The Saxony Lover's Knot Tiara, worn by Princess Maria Immaculata of Saxony
4.The Patiala Lovers Knot Tiara, worn by Rajmata Mohinder Kaur of Patiala
5. The Toro Lover's Knot Tiara, worn by Queen Best, mother of the King of Toro

Plus, drop pearl tiaras come in all kinds of other forms:
1. The Pearl Poiré Tiara, from Denmark
2. The Mellerio Shell Tiara, from Spain
3. Alexandra Feodorovna's Pearl Drop Tiara, sold to the Duchess of Marlborough and then to Imelda Marcos, who apparently had it dismantled
5. The Romanov Pearl Drop Tiara, also worn by Alexandra Feodorovna
6. A modern Cartier version with central feather
7. Princess Anastasia of Greece's Cartier Tiara, with drop pearls and diamonds
9. An option apparently from Prussian royalty
And there are more out there, of course.

Choice #2: Standard Pearl

Second, I'll ask you to choose a regular pearl tiara - one that doesn't include dangling drops, but does include pretty much whatever else you like.

Upright drop pearls are always popular.
1. The Ancona Tiara, from Italy
4. The Antique Pearl Tiara, from the Netherlands
5. A pearl-topped fringe from the Romanov collection
7. The Württemberg Ornate Pearl Tiara, from the Netherlands
8. Queen Maud's Pearl and Diamond Tiara, from Norway, also available in a smaller pearl form

Round pearls work as toppers, too.
1. The Cartier Loop Tiara, from Spain
2. The Kent Festoon Tiara, from Britain
6. The Lotus Flower Tiara, from Britain
7. King Olav's Gift Tiara, from Norway

Or you can just incorporate them any which way you please.
1. The George IV State Diadem, from Britain
2. The Rosebery Tiara, formerly in the collection of the Westminsters but recently sold
4. The Mountbatten Star Tiara, from the Mountbatten family
5. The Pearl Button Tiara, from the Netherlands
7. The Antique Corsage Tiara, from Greece
8. The Ogilvy Tiara, from Britain

And seriously, that's just the tip of the iceberg.
I mean, this doesn't even include things that go beyond your standard diamond and pearl pairing, like the Cameo Tiara, or the Portland Sapphire Tiara, all of which are fair game if you like! But I'll leave you here.

For reference, here's how your Ultimate Tiara Collection is looking so far:

Ready to vote for your favorite?
-Vote for two tiaras in the comments, one for each category. (If you're mentioning multiple tiaras in your comment, indicate which two get your vote, or I will just count the first applicable two. One comment vote per person, please.)
-I will also count the number of "likes" or up arrows on those comments, so you can vote that way too.
-Non-royal tiaras and tiaras that no longer exist are fair game too.

Programming note: The blog is on vacation next week. (I'll still be posting at the Jewel Vault, where it will be a busy week for the Queen.) I will put up an open post on Monday for those of you that would like to chat while we're on hiatus so we can keep that separate from the voting, make it a little easier for me in the tallying stage. I'll leave this post open until Wednesday for voting.

UPDATE: Thanks for all your contributions, voting is now closed!

Photos: Sotheby's/Christie's/Geoffrey Munn/Getty Images/India News/Scanpix

27 June 2013

Tiara Thursday: Empress Eugénie's Pearl and Diamond Tiara

Empress Eugénie's Pearl and Diamond Tiara
This tiara might be the most famous of the surviving French crown jewels - at the least, it's pretty well known for a tiara that is not currently worn by a royal, I'd say. The pearl and diamond tiara made for Empress Eugénie contains 212 pearls (weighing 2,520 grains in total) and 1998 diamonds (with a total weight of 63.3 carats). The diamonds create a leafy scroll pattern around the multiple larger pearls, and the tiara finishes off with multiple upright pear-shaped pearls of graduated sizes.
Empress Eugénie, as painted by Winterhalter
The tiara was made by Gabriel Lemonnier around 1853, and was commissioned by Napoleon III to celebrate his marriage to Eugénie de Montijo (1826-1920). But as was the tradition with the French crown jewels (and as we've seen previously with both ruby and emerald tiaras), the gems had been reconfigured by various users throughout multiple shifts of power in France at that time. These pearls and diamonds belonged to the French state treasury and had previously been incorporated in jewels used by Empress Marie Louise (1791-1847, second wife of Napoleon I) and the Duchess of Angoulême (1778-1851). The new tiara fashioned for Eugénie was part of a parure including bracelets, a stomacher, and a necklace of six pearl strands, and was worn by the Empress for a portrait by Franz Xavier Winterhalter.
Princess Margarethe of Thurn and Taxis
Having used existing jewels from the state treasury, the tiara was not Empress Eugénie's personal property and was returned to the state when she left France for exile following Napoleon III's 1870 defeat. It remained with the rest of the crown jewels until the Third Republic decided to sell the lot in 1887. It was bought at auction and then sold again to Prince Albert I of Thurn and Taxis, who bought it to give as a wedding gift to his bride Archduchess Margarethe Klementine of Austria in 1890. The tiara remained with the Thurn and Taxis family for the next century, passing to Albert I's son Franz Joseph, then to his brother Karl August. Karl August gave the tiara to his daughter-in-law Gloria when she married his son, Prince Johannes, in 1980. Gloria memorably wore the tiara on her wedding day.
Princess Glora of Thurn and Taxis, on her wedding day
Princess Gloria made a name for herself as the "Punk Princess" and "Princess TNT" in the 1980s, combining the magnificent jewels of the German princely family with an attention-grabbing array of outrageous outfits and hairstyles. But the party stopped in 1992, when Prince Johannes died and Gloria had to act to preserve the family fortune from debt and inheritance taxes. Among her actions was the sale of quite a bit - not all, though - of the family jewel collection. Empress Eugénie's Pearl and Diamond Tiara was sold for 935,000 Deutsche Marks.
The tiara did not disappear into a personal collection, though: it was bought by the Friends of the Louvre, who handed it over to the famous Paris museum where it joined other recovered pieces such as the Duchess of Angoulême's Emerald Tiara. We can see it, though we can't see it worn - a happy medium considering the other options, I suppose.

Is this your favorite French royal tiara?

Photos: Sotheby's/Life/Louvre

26 June 2013

Wedding Wednesday: The Duchess of Windsor and Her Dress

HRH The Duke of Windsor and Wallis Warfield
June 3, 1937
Château de Candé, France

Do we all know this story? I feel like we all know this story. The surface of it, at least. When they met, she - Mrs. Simpson - was a Baltimore-born socialite who was living in Britain with her second husband; he - the Prince of Wales - was an heir with a penchant for romancing married women. They met courtesy of one of Mrs. Simpson's friends, who also happened to be one of the Prince's mistresses, and despite all raised eyebrows, a romance ensued.

Video: The couple talks about when they met
If anyone thought that he'd come to his senses following his accession as King Edward VIII after the January 1936 death of his father, George V, and do what he was "supposed" to do, well, they were quite wrong. Points against Wallis as Queen piled up left and right: she was American, she was already divorced once and would have to be again (and he was head of the Church of England, which didn't allow divorced people to remarry), she held a noticeable control over the monarch (who already had a history of overstepping his political boundaries), and so on and so on. But the King was more determined than ever that he would marry her, even indicating that he would "go" if needed. When no satisfactory solution was found following her divorce, he did indeed go: in December 1936, he abdicated the throne in order to marry Wallis, and his younger brother became King George VI.

Video: The famous abdication speech of Edward VIII
They married in France the following June, with no members of the royal family present. The ex-king had been titled as His Royal Highness The Duke of Windsor; Wallis (who by this time had reverted to her maiden name, Warfield) was denied an HRH styling on marriage. Her distance from the royal family was emphasized by her clothes and jewels, which were purposefully the antithesis of the frilly concoctions and traditional styles worn by the new Queen Elizabeth. The wedding ensemble is a prime example: it is perfectly appropriate for a third wedding, but perfectly not what other royal wedding gowns of the time were.
The dress, as worn and in its current faded color
The bride wore a silk crepe wedding dress with a sleek long skirt featuring a slight flare at the bottom. The dress was topped by a jacket with a cinched waist and a button closure; the top featured a high collar, long sleeves, and draping to a heart shape below the bust line. From American company Mainbocher, it was done in "Wallis blue", a light shade made to match her eyes. She accessorized with matching blue leather shoes from Georgette, gloves in the same silk crepe, and a blue straw hat made by Caroline Reboux topped by coq feathers and a halo of blue tulle (Cecil Beaton, who took the wedding portraits, quite famously hated that hat, and I can't disagree). It was then and has been since a frequently copied dress. The whole ensemble was donated by the Duchess in 1950 to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but it has lost its blue color over time thanks to a defect in the dye.
The two bracelets worn on the wedding day
Wallis was equally famous for her jewels, and on her wedding day she wore a few important pieces. At her neck, a clip made in 1935 by Van Cleef & Arpels; on one wrist, a Van Cleef & Arpels sapphire and diamond bracelet which has been dubbed the "marriage contract" bracelet as it was given by the Duke of commemorate their civil marriage and is engraved with the words, "For our contract 18.V.37"; on the other wrist, a particularly famous piece of hers, a Cartier bracelet with dangling gem-set Latin crosses gathered over the years for various special occasions, each one engraved. The Duchess' jewels were auctioned for charity after her death, and various pieces have come up for sale again over the years.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor were married until his death in 1972; she passed away in 1986. They never had any children, and spent their married life primarily in France with time spent in the United States too, plus a stint as Governor of the Bahamas for the Duke.
The dress, the jewels, the basic facts - these are the easy things here. The real story, though, is much more complex. Their romance has been billed as one of the greatest of all time, a king giving up everything for love...but the closer you look, the less rosy the picture becomes. Beaton observed that Wallis was "determined to love the Duke, though I feel she is not in love with him. She has a great responsibility in looking after someone who, so essentially different, relies entirely upon her." Did she really understand what she was getting into, with a man prone to obsessive love? (There are indications that she married him because he penned her in, when this outcome wasn't what she had anticipated.) Was he really that committed to being king in the first place? (Comments made both by Edward and by those close to him indicate that he was likely quite unsuitable in several ways.) I can't begin to probe the real depths of the story here, really. They are a couple you have to make your own judgment on, to be sure.

But back to the sartorial point...

Is this wedding dress an all-time classic?

Photos: Hulton/Cecil Beaton/Metropolitan Museum of Art/Van Cleef & Arpels/Sotheby's

25 June 2013

Random News Tidbits: An Abdication in Qatar

Looks like 2013 is shaping up to be the Year of the Abdication. Recent rumors turned out to be true: power is changing hands in Qatar.

Video: Qatari Emir to Transfer Power
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, 61, has abdicated in favor of his son the Crown Prince, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, 33. Sheikh Hamad took power from his father via a bloodless coup in 1995.
Sheikh Hamad and Sheikha Mozah
Now, Qatari politics - politics of any sort, actually - are sooooo not within the scope of this blog. So just to bring this back to our sphere: Sheikh Hamad's wife (well, one of his wives, the one that is his public consort) is Sheikha Mozah, my girl crush, and I shall be devastated not to see her ferocious elegance manning the helm of future Qatari state visits. Tamim is the second son of Hamad and Mozah; I believe he has two wives. Sheikha Mozah has many causes, though, so I suspect we'll still see her around.

And that's your wee update from the world of Actual News.

Photo: Getty Images

24 June 2013

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: June 16-22, and More

Best of the Week
Little bit of this, little bit of that...
Letizia at a meeting and at a mass to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Felipe's grandfather; Mathilde at an awards ceremony; Mette-Marit and Haakon hosting a dinner; Máxima on more province visits
Some of you were disappointed in a relatively tame Ascot showing last week; I was disappointed in a tame showing from everyone else in our regular cast of characters! This isn't everything, but it is the only things that held my attention: Letizia having some summer fun with color and in her proper princess best, Mathilde in a lovely print, Mette-Marit shaking up her hairdo, and Máxima in more hats-n'-jewels (and sharing a colorful thought with Charlotte Casiraghi in Giambattista Valli - there's two royals I never thought would end up in a sartorial comparison).

In other news, Sunday was National Day in Luxembourg!
L to R: Princess Tessy, Prince Louis, Princess Alexandra, the Hereditary Grand Duchess, the Hereditary Grand Duke, the Grand Duchess, the Grand Duke
A highlight of the celebrations is the Te Deum, for which the family gets all hatted up. This year, Alexandra wore Natan, Stéphanie was in Weill, and Maria Teresa sported Armani (these courtesy of Luxarazzi, where you can satisfy all your National Day needs). The highlight? MT wore some amethysts. Not terribly enchanted with the rest, I'm afraid. In the evening, there were tiaras - and more amethysts:
Maria Teresa wore the Belgian Scroll Tiara and her repeated Elie Saab gown, and Stéphanie wore an amethyst bandeau not seen in quite some time, which is delightful!

Judging by my inbox, though, there's a different tiara entirely that many of you are quite concerned about. Over the weekend Lady Melissa Percy, daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, married Thomas van Straubenzee, longtime friend of Princes William and Harry, in what has repeatedly been billed as the society wedding of the year. The wedding pulled in a whole mess of well-known guests, but none upstaged the bride - and she made sure of that by her choice of headgear alone.

Video: News report on the wedding
Lady Melissa wore a large scrolling diamond tiara with a base of huge round diamonds. The tiara comes from the Percy family collection, and was worn to the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953 by the then-Duchess, who was the bride's grandmother (she can be seen in the top pictures at this link). You could say that this was a secondary tiara in the collection, though, as the more important piece was the strawberry leaf coronet which included diamonds from a sword given to the third Duke by King George IV. It was worn to the 1953 coronation by the then-Dowager Duchess, who was Mistress of the Robes to the Queen Mother, but the tiara was stolen in 1963 while she was bringing it home from the jeweler to wear for a state banquet.
This is not the same diamond tiara worn at a rakish angle by Lady Melissa's sister, Lady Katie Percy, for her 2011 wedding to Patrick Valentine, so clearly the family collection's still doing just fine. (The two brides do appear to be wearing the same diamond necklace.) You may think Melissa bit off more tiara than she could chew, but I heartily applaud her go big or go home attitude! What a gorgeous tiara we wouldn't have seen otherwise...

Who was your best dressed last week?

Photos: Getty Images/ANB/Siste/ANP/DutchPhotoPress/WENN/Charles Caratini/SIP/Cour grand-ducale/RTL

21 June 2013

Royal Fashion Awards: Royal Ascot 2013

That five day festival of hats and horses and everything in between is well under way at Ascot. Let's check in with the fashion winners and losers so far, shall we?

Best in Day 1
The Countess of Wessex
Left to Right: the Queen (followed by the Duchess of Cornwall), the Countess of Wessex, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Princess Haya
I had my qualms about the shape of Sophie's dress, but in the end it can't be denied: she is positively owning that color. I also loved Haya's garden festival and Serena Linley's flood of pink (she, plus more stylish royals including a well turned out Princess Anne, can be seen here). And, just for kicks, I'm gonna own up and say that I was also digging Eugenie's striped affair. I think the horizontal stripes emphasize her skirt and not what's underneath and are totally cute. Yes, I dug the stripes. (Not you, Bea.)

Best in Day 2
The Queen and the Duchess of Cornwall
Camilla's had quite the elegant streak recently, no? She matched her emerald brooch to the Queen's (which was new to me, all deets at the Jewel Vault!) and pulled off a lovely understated look which needs some love...except that this is Ascot and understated - even in a big hat - just isn't enough! I point you to "the coolest", apparently, Lady Helen Taylor and her explosion of color. I may wish she'd done a Coco (Chanel: take one thing off before you leave the house...or in this case, maybe two or three things), but I'm in love with the fun and unexpected color combo. Click here for more royal ladies and here for Lady Helen's competition for memorable Day 2 looks, Princess Haya and her portable chess set. 

Best in Day 3
The Queen
L to R: the Queen, Autumn Phillips, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, the Princess Royal
I was ready to flip a coin between Autumn, who was simple but stunning, and Beatrice, who was awfully well recovered from that lace and polka dot raincoat thing earlier. And then the purple Queen stole the race, as did her horse Estimate, who won the Gold Cup. Actual royal jumpy claps! The Duke of York presented her with her cup (she was supposed to present it herself but was unavailable due to awesomeness), and I expect to see that bolted to the hood of the royal Bentley promptly. One's precioussssss. This has set a new level for Windsor cuteness. Your move, Baby Cambridge. (Click here for a full recounting of the jubilant Queen, and here for more pics and stuff from Ladies' Day.)

Best in Top Hats
The Prince of Wales and Prince Michael of Kent
L to R: the Earl of Wessex, the Duke of York and Prince Michael of Kent, the Prince of Wales, Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai (husband of Princess Haya), Peter Phillips
The Windsor Grays! Ha. Nothing says off to the races! quite like the pale color palette, don't you agree?


And on the fourth day of Ascot Christmas, the royals gave to me... one Sophie recycling her maternity wear (but she isn't, though, and it's sad), one still delighted Queen, and two bonus Jordanian royals! Prince Hassan and Princess Sarvath rode in the Queen's carriage. Also, it's important to note the box of wine handbag at the bottom of that linked article, which I've been delighting in on Twitter. I now suspect Her Maj might have a gin and tonic version. She is quite jolly these days...

And on day five...nada, basically. 
Ascot always winds down towards the end, but this one came to a particularly quiet end, royally speaking. The lovely Princess Sarvath was in the carriage next to the Queen again, though, which was the best bit.

Who wins your Ascot best dressed?

Photos: AP/AFP/Getty Images/PacificCoastNews/Reuters

20 June 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Pearl Poiré Tiara

The Pearl Poiré Tiara
Queen Margrethe of Denmark might not have a big gun tiara match the height of a Braganza or Luxembourg Empire Tiara, let's say, but she does have a couple historically important tiaras reserved for the queen and for the most important occasions, and this is one of them. It's an old tiara to be sure: it was probably made around 1825 in Berlin at the request of King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, as a wedding gift for his daughter Louise, who was marrying Prince Frederik of the Netherlands. It includes 18 drop pearls (poiré pearls) dangling from a structure of diamond arches. The Prussian king must have been pleased with the final tiara, as he apparently commissioned a look-alike tiara for his son Prince Albrecht's bride, Princess Marianne of the Netherlands; they married in 1830. (This second tiara disappeared from the public radar, and its current whereabouts/state of existence are unknown.)
Queen Louise (with King Frederik VIII) and Queen Alexandrine
The Danish version of the tiara had some travelling to do before it landed in Denmark. Princess Louise (1808-1870) left the tiara to her oldest daughter, also named Louise, who was Queen of Sweden and Norway. Queen Louise (1828-1871) unfortunately died shortly after inheriting the tiara and it quickly passed on to her daughter, who was also named Louise (1851-1926). This Louise married the future King Frederik VIII of Denmark in 1869, and the tiara arrived at its final home.
The earrings and necklace the tiara is often worn with
Queen Louise of Denmark wore the tiara with a few other pearl and diamond pieces: a demi-parure of a necklace and earrings which had been a wedding present from the Khedive of Egypt, and a brooch that came from her grandmother. The pieces weren't designed together, but they worked so well that they became something of an assembled parure, and are still worn together today.
Queen Ingrid
Louise made sure that the parure stayed in Denmark: when she died in 1926, she left it to the Danish Royal Property Trust, which ensures that the pieces are not the personal property of any particular royal, so they will pass from monarch to monarch without being sold. And so the parure has been worn by Louise's daughter-in-law Queen Alexandrine (1879-1952); Alexandrine's daughter-in-law Queen Ingrid (1910-2000); and Ingrid's daughter Queen Margrethe, who wears them today.
Queen Margrethe
This tiara, along with the Danish Emerald Parure, makes frequent appearances at the annual New Year's Court gala, one of the most important and formal occasions of the year; Margrethe has also worn it to big events like her own jubilee celebrations and Crown Princess Victoria's wedding, as well as plenty of well-known portraits. She's not prone to a tremendous amount of tiara loaning in the first place, but this is one of the pieces that has historically been kept for the queen (exceptions were notably made for two British coronations: Ingrid, while still Crown Princess, at the 1937 coronation of George VI and Elizabeth, and Princess Margaretha at the 1953 coronation of Elizabeth II). Margrethe makes good use of it, though, and it nestles well into her signature updo.

Video: The tiara in action at Margrethe's 40th jubilee gala banquet, 2012
The Pearl Poiré Tiara is part of a prominent subset of pearl tiaras: the pearl drop tiaras, which take advantage of a natural drop shape and dangle those pearls from diamond frameworks. Its companions include the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara, the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara, and the Cartier Pearl Drop Tiara from Monaco.

Is this your favorite pearl drop tiara?

Photos: Scanpix/Getty Images/Kongehuset

19 June 2013

Royal Fashion Awards: Garter Day 2013

Monday was Garter Day in Great Britain, the annual meeting of the Most Noble Order of the Garter. The Knights and Ladies of the Garter swan about in the most royal outfits of the year and their guests get all hatted up - it's an irresistibly royal occasion.

Best in Escorts
Da Queen

Video: The Queen at Garter Day
What's a girl to do at a second big event without her hubby? Recruit a handsome gent for either side, of course: the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cambridge walked with the Queen in the procession. She rode back in the open carriage with Charles and Camilla. (More details on the outfit and jewels can be found at the Vault.)

Best in Refreshment
The Countess of Wessex and the Duchess of Cornwall
Left to Right: the Duchess of Cornwall, the Countess of Wessex, the Duchess of Gloucester
I was pretty starved for some non-blush, non-beige looks following the Trooping, and couldn't help but find some much-needed refreshment in Camilla's brights and Sophie's darks. (Wasn't quite starved enough to miss mentioning the Duchess of Gloucester's perma-repeat, though.)

Though they didn't give us much in the way of color, there were some interesting looks on Lady Sarah Chatto (in her standard retro schtick...a perma-repeat I don't mind at all, go figure), Viscountess Linley (in some serious skirt volume), and Lady Helen Taylor (in, wow, the best pair of hat antlers I have ever seen) - click here to see via my Twitter friend @gabeyslave, who was lucky enough to be present for the procession and shared some fun insider glimpses!

Best in Capes
The Prince of Wales
L to R: the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, the Princess Royal, the Duke of York and Earl of Wessex, the Duke of Kent. Not pictured but present: the Duke of Gloucester.
I usually end up giving this one to a royal lady (well, they are the only ones with serious earring bling), but I'm going with Charles this year...followed closely by Anne, because old habits die hard. All history aside, these sorts of getups can look silly unless you wear them with confidence, and I think the PR and the PoW do it best of this lot. 

Most Missed
Princess Alexandra of Kent
The Duke of Edinburgh was absent, of course - he was released from the hospital, though, so that's looking good - but we have another key royal missing here: Princess Alexandra, the Queen's cousin. She's been suffering from polymyalgia rheumatica and has been cancelling engagements for some time now. I miss her and her effortless royal elegance, especially in her Garter robes.

Who was your favorite Garter Day participant?

Photos: WPA Pool/Getty Images

18 June 2013

Weekly Royal Fashion Awards: June 9-15

Best in Day (Casual)
Crown Princess Mary

Video: Mary participates in the Free from Bullying Race
Oh, I do enjoy a bit of Casual Mary.

Best in Day (Regular)
Crown Princess Victoria
Letizia welcomes Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan to Spain with the rest of the family; Victoria at a conference and holding an audience; Mette-Marit on an engagement with Queen Sonja
Letizia in brights and Mette-Marit in something that matches are always bonuses, but these simple dresses suit Victoria so perfectly, I'm willing to overlook the aggressively matching blue shoes (pet peeve alert).

Best in Day (Fancy)
Queen Máxima
Máxima making more province visits; Catherine naming a ship
Big hats and big jewels always win. That's just the way it is. (Proper big hats, though, not the ones just attempting to set records for fabric yardage piled on one hat, to be clear.)

Best in Evening
Princess Letizia
Mary at the opening of the House of Foreign Industry; Letizia at a concert and dinner for Naruhito; Mathilde at the opera
I really didn't like Letizia's gown when she wore it at Victoria's wedding back in 2010 - and yet, suddenly, I'm charmed. Why, hmm? Better hair now, a softer look? Maybe I just appreciate a little Swedish wedding throwback after we missed her at Madeleine's party.

Who was your best dressed last week?

Photos: Getty Images/Stella Pictures/Side2/DutchPhotoPress/Scanpix

17 June 2013

Royal Fashion Awards: Trooping the Colour 2013

The Queen celebrated her official birthday this weekend, participating as she always does with the rest of the royal family at Trooping the Colour, her official birthday parade.

Video: Trooping the Colour summary
Though a larger selection of the royal family was out on the Buckingham Palace balcony earlier, a slightly smaller group came out to view the flypast as they always do, and that's the group we're checking in with today...

Best in Birthday Girls
The Queen
I do love a strong blue, and this is a perfect background for her complex brooch (details over at the Jewel Vault). She was the clear standout on the balcony, and she wins all the things.

Best in Ladies
...A Tie?
Left to Right: The Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cambridge, the Princess Royal, the Countess of Wessex and Lady Louise, Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice, the Duchess of Kent, Princess Michael of Kent, Lady Gabriella Windsor
Though there were royal ladies dressed in stronger colors there, the only ones that popped out alongside the Queen were dressed in a terribly pale palette, Princess Anne's festive uniform excepted. ("You, in the polka dots, don't even think about it. Is that red? Are you kidding me?" - Her Maj. Or not.) Despite the love of baby pink that has swept me away the past few weeks, I'm feeling quite lackluster about this bunch. Everyone's pretty standard, right down to Bea and Eug's misses. I'll call it a tie...six of one, half a dozen of the other. 

Best in Gents
The Duke of Kent and Viscount Severn
L to R: The Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge, Prince Harry, the Duke of York, Tim Laurence, the Earl of Wessex, Viscount Severn, the Duke of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent, Prince Michael of Kent
We have two subcategories here, I suppose: uniform and non-uniform. Uniform, it's got to go to the Duke of Kent (sorry, Harry), who took the place of the hospitalized Duke of Edinburgh at the Queen's side. The Duke had his own health issues earlier this year - a mild stroke in March, meaning it was best for him to sit by her instead of riding as he usually does anyway - and it was good to see him in a featured spot. Non-uniform, it has to be James, a.k.a. Viscount Severn, the son of the Earl and Countess of Wessex. I know some of you have been waiting for him to be included at these royal events, and here he is! (Bonus points for inventive binocular use. He can see you.)

Who was your Trooping best dressed?

Photos: AP/Getty Images/PacificCoastNews

13 June 2013

Tiara Thursday: The Ancona Tiara

It seems like every time a jewel is auctioned, someone suggests that a royal family with some connection to the gem ought to buy it. You know, to preserve history and prevent things from vanishing into the thin air of private ownership. Thing is, that almost never happens...except in certain cases. Like this one.
The Ancona Tiara
The Ancona Tiara is a pearl and diamond tiara with Italian heritage. The body of the tiara includes groups of three round pearls in diamond trefoil surrounds on a pearl and gold base. The tiara is topped with pearls in two rows, a lower row of round pearls and a top row of upright drop pearls which are slightly irregular in shape - clearly old, baroque pearls. And old this tiara is indeed: it was made for Princess Maria Anna Carolina of Saxony (1799-1832) sometime around her 1817 marriage to Leopold II, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
Princess Lydia of Arenberg
The tiara then dropped along down the Italian royal family tree from parent to child for a while, starting with Archduchess Maria Isabella of Austria (1834-1901), the daughter of Leopold II and his second wife (he remarried following Maria Anna Carolina's early death). It ends with Princess Lucia of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (1908-2001), who married Eugenio, 5th Duke of Genoa. Before he was the Duke of Genoa, he was the Duke of Ancona, and the tiara is known as the Ancona Tiara. Eugenio inherited the Genoa title from his brother, Filiberto; Filiberto's wife, Princess Lydia of Arenberg, also wore this pearl diadem.
From the hands of Lucia and her descendants, the tiara was sold at auction in 1999. But surprisingly, it seems to have remained in the Italian royal fold: it reappeared on the head of the Duchess of Castro - née Camilla Crociani - at the 2004 wedding of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson. She comes from a wealthy family, and it seems they purchased the piece at auction. Camilla's husband, Prince Carlo of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, Duke of Castro, holds a claim to the headship of the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies.
The Duchess of Castro
As long as we still get to see it, I'm happy with any owner, frankly: this is a lovely example of a pearl and diamond tiara. Old and valuable, with a well-balanced distribution of pearls. This is not a diamond tiara with a few pearls, this is a pearl tiara, if you know what I mean.

How do you think this rates as a pearl tiara?

Programming note: We won't have a Friday post tomorrow. Tune back in on Monday for a look at Trooping the Colour fashion.

Photos: Getty Images

12 June 2013

Wedding Wednesday: June Brides

June is a ridiculously popular month for weddings for all brides, but especially Swedish royal brides, according to our little retrospective here. Also, June 19th is apparently a great date for a wedding. Let's see what else we can learn from our June royal brides...

The Duke of Windsor and Wallis Warfield (Simpson)
June 3, 1937
I think we'll spend some time with Wallis and Edward later this month.

June 5, 1964
The first of the June Swedish brides to make the list.

June 6, 1998
Gotta love a royal wedding where each party boasts a name longer than the alphabet, without even touching the middle names. 

June 8, 1961
A sleeper favorite wedding gown, I call this one: not too well-known, but usually a favorite among those that know it. 

June 8, 2013
Oh hey, these guys again! That's Swedish bride #2 for the list.

Crown Prince Naruhito of Japan and Masako Owada
June 9, 1993
It hasn't been an easy road for these two, but they're celebrating their 20th anniversary this year.

June 10, 1967
Just one of a few June dresses that made your countdown of favorite wedding gowns.

June 10, 1993
Twenty years here too, though this is a gown that hasn't weathered those double decades so well, methinks.

June 15, 1974
#3, a wedding a lot like Madeleine's. Only this one had the Connaught Tiara on the bride, which some of you hoped to see this past weekend.

King Hussein of Jordan and Lisa Halaby
June 15, 1978
The fourth of Hussein's four weddings. The American bride wore Dior and is now known as Queen Noor.

April 21 & June 16, 2012
Another member of your favorite gown countdown here!

May 27, 2010 and June 18, 2011
The second of Princess Benedikte's daughters to wed in June - but I like her sister's gown a bit better.

June 19, 1976
#4 out of Sweden,but my least favorite gown of the lot.

June 19, 1999
Another June 19 wedding, which might explain why Sophie wore her wedding tiara when she attended...

June 19, 2010
...this other June 19 wedding! Victoria married on the same day as her mother and father, and she's the fifth June Swedish bride here. She's also a member of your favorite royal wedding gown club - the leader of the club, in fact.

Princess Christina of the Netherlands and Jorge Pérez y Guillermo
June 28, 1975
The bride is the youngest of the four daughters of Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard. Jorge was a Catholic, but Christina avoided the scandal caused by her sister Irene's marriage by renouncing rights to the throne for herself and her descendants prior to converting and announcing her engagement. The couple are now divorced.

June 28 & 29, 1978
The first of her three weddings, and the biggest event of them all.

June 30, 1964
Swedish royal bride #6 and our last one! Quite a run, and there are others if you go back in time.

Prince Michael of Kent and Marie-Christine von Reibnitz
June 30, 1978
The couple married civilly in Austria; she is Catholic, so he lost his spot in the line of succession.

And there are, as always, many others out there.

Who's your favorite June bride?

Photos: Getty Images/TimeLife/Scanpix/Polfoto/Kungahuset/Corbis/RVD