19 January 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Kent Festoon Tiara

The Kent Festoon Tara
This tiara, with diamond scrolls topped by single pearls, is one of the more recognizable pieces belonging to the Kent branch of the British royal family. How it came to be in the Kent family is not precisely known; it belonged to Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent (1906-1968), who received jewels from her husband, the Duke of Kent (son of King George V and Queen Mary) and had jewels both inherited and gifted from her many royal relations. These included jewels left to Marina by Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll (daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert) on her death in 1939. The tiara probably dates from around 1900 and though it rests in a case from Cartier, Tiaras: A History of Splendour notes that it may not actually be a Cartier creation.

Princess Marina
Princess Marina wore the tiara regularly, including at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, and it was briefly worn by her daughter, Princess Alexandra. She left the tiara to her youngest son, Prince Michael, and it is now worn by his wife, Princess Michael (Marie Christine). The current row of pearls at the base has been added while the tiara's been in their possession, nicely echoing the pearls that top the tiara.


Princess Michael
Princess Michael has made this one of her signature pieces. Prince and Princess Michael are often attendees at state banquets and from time to time have stepped in as the Queen's representatives for the traditional gala Guildhall banquet that takes place during state visits; with those appearances plus portraits, the tiara is worn regularly. It's a tall tiara - one that Princess Michael showcases extremely well - and it just might be my favorite Kent diadem.

Is this your favorite Kent tiara, or do you prefer another?

18 January 2017

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 18

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry had an event for Heads Together yesterday.
Accessories that pick up a non-dominant color from your print? Whaddya know, my matchy line remains blissfully uncrossed. A commitment to interest in accessories: that's a New Year's resolution I can get behind.
Dress from Erdem

17 January 2017

Tuesday Tidbits for January 17: More for the New Year

Aaaannnnd we're back:

--Lord Snowdon, noted photographer and ex-husband of the late Princess Margaret, died on Friday. He was 86 years old. [Independent]

--The Earl of Snowdon title will pass to Viscount Linley. He spent time with his aunt, the Queen, at Sandringham this weekend. The Queen's second church appearance of the year was covered at the Vault.

--The Japanese imperial family has their own set of court dress-type events in January, including the  New Year's Lectures. [YouTube]
ANN screencap

--And finally, Princess Madeleine shared some cute pictures of Princess Leonore and Prince Nicolas with their greetings for the new year on her Facebook page. [Facebook]
Princess Madeleine Facebook

13 January 2017

Royal Outfit of the Day: January 13

Programming Note: The blog returns on Tuesday!
The Duchess of Cambridge undertook a couple engagements earlier this week.
So you've got your future Royal Coat Museum, and then you've got your future Royal Blue Museum just up the road. You can visit them both...or just permanently take up residence right between the two, your choice. It's a good blue - as I always say - though I will raise my contrarian hand and say the blue shoes are crossing the matchy line for me. (My matchy line being a lot closer than most matchy lines, you know.)
Dress from Eponine London

12 January 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Danish Ruby Parure, Revisited

The Danish Ruby Parure is, at this point in time, basically guaranteed at least one appearance per year: Crown Princess Mary wears it to the annual New Year’s gala banquet. She’ll wear it in portraits and for select other occasions – jubilee and birthday celebrations for her mother-in-law, Queen Margrethe; certain royal weddings – but uses other tiaras for the rest of her gala needs. Having just seen our scheduled 2017 ruby outing, it’s the perfect time to revisit this impressive set of jewelry and the impressive history behind it.

The Danish Ruby Parure Tiara
This tiara tale begins, like many others, at the court of Napoleon Bonaparte. When planning his coronation as Emperor of the French in 1804, he wanted to ensure that it would be the grandest possible event. He went so far as to give money to his marshals so that they could buy their wives the proper amount of jewels for the occasion. One of those men, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, bought a set of ruby and diamond jewelry for his wife, Désirée Clary, and she wore it on that historical day. This couple would later become King Carl XIV Johan and Queen Desideria of Sweden, and the jewels found a new Swedish home.

In the modern history of this parure, it is so well associated with Queen Ingrid of Denmark (who was born a Princess of Sweden, and who wore this set frequently) that many assume it made the trip from Sweden to Denmark along with the rest of Ingrid's wedding gifts. In fact it came over much earlier, with another Swedish princess that became a Danish queen: Queen Louise, who married the future Frederick VIII in 1869. Louise received the parure as a wedding gift from her grandmother, Queen Josephine of Sweden (Désirée's daughter-in-law), because the rubies and diamonds echoed the colors of the Danish flag. Queen Louise gave the headpiece to her son Crown Prince Christian's bride Alexandrine as a wedding gift, and she received the rest when Louise passed away. It was Alexandrine that gave it to Princess Ingrid of Sweden when she married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in 1935.

Queen Ingrid, before and after her tiara changes
As with most jewels this old, alterations have been made over the years. The most extensive remodeling has been done to the tiara, which wasn’t even a tiara to begin with. It started as a series of individual floral ornaments; these were later assembled into a slender wreath tiara, as seen on Queen Alexandrine and on Queen Ingrid when she first received the ruby set. Ingrid turned it into something more in 1947 by taking two of the brooches that came with the initial parure and adding them to the tiara, giving it much more substance and turning it into a proper diadem that still had a lovely wreath structure from the random placement of the leaves.

Crown Princess Mary in the tiara before her changes
When Queen Ingrid died in 2000 she left the parure to her beloved grandson, Crown Prince Frederik, thereby ensuring that the future Crown Princess would have a truly grand and historical set of jewels to wear. Mary wore this tiara for two of her pre-wedding events in 2004, making it the first tiara she ever wore.

Mary's changes
Mary followed in Ingrid’s footsteps by wearing the ruby set as it came to her for several years, and then having it altered to suit her own needs. In consultation with Crown Prince Frederik and Queen Margrethe, she had the tiara reconfigured and added extra flexibility to the rest of the set. This work was done by Dulong Fine Jewelry. 

Video: The ruby set under construction
Mary’s version of the tiara sits more upright on her head and feels more symmetrical and compact than Ingrid’s did; the alteration left a few leaves behind, and these extras were turned into a set of hairpins. She first wore the new tiara setting in 2010.

The hairpins, earrings, ring, and necklace
The full Danish Ruby Parure now includes the tiara, the hairpins, a magnificent pair of girandole earrings which can be worn in several formats (as just the ruby and diamond studs, the studs with one of the ruby and diamond pendants, or the studs with a few different pearl drop options), a grand necklace that can be worn with or without its various pendant attachments, a brooch with a detachable pendant (the pendant can be used on a necklace chain; the brooch has been worn in various positions including on a velvet choker and has been worn with a pearl drop), a bracelet, and a ring (a new addition, made by the Dulong firm).

2010: Mary in the remodeled tiara and the ruby and diamond studs from the earrings worn with pearls
Queen Ingrid tended to wear the whole ruby set at once, which is a grand but imposing amount of bling to add to an outfit. Crown Princess Mary started out wearing all the pieces at once, but she hasn’t worn it that way since she altered the tiara, preferring these days to pick and choose among the various pieces. I may miss the more natural feel of Ingrid’s tiara format and I may miss seeing the whole parure worn at once, but I can’t deny that Mary's changes have led to her using the set more creatively and to her using parts of the set without the tiara more frequently. She seems more comfortable with it, and this is all good stuff. Like I’ve said before: a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Of all the ways this set has been worn, which is your favorite?