30 March 2016

Index: Jewels with Indian Connections

Earlier this year I contributed some thoughts for a piece at the Duchess Kate blog on jewels from the Windsor collection with connections to India. I've also received quite a few requests to do another feature on such jewels (my own spin, if you will), so by popular demand, here we are.

Controversy abounds when discussing the topic of British jewels with ties to India. Consider the case of the Koh-i-Noor Diamond: the famous stone currently rests in Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother's Crown in the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London, but the tactics used to get it into British ownership during Queen Victoria's reign have left it open to ownership claims ever since, usually from India. A lawsuit for the return of the stone was filed in Pakistan at the end of 2015. That said, there are also later jewels and jewels with Indian design inspiration that may not have the same controversial history.

Queen Mary wearing the Cambridge Emerald and Delhi Durbar Parure

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will undertake their first tour of India and Bhutan from April 10-16. Many have hoped to see some jewels with ties to India loaned to Kate for the tour. Personally, I have my doubts on that front; potential diplomatic issues aside, the Cambridges have kept their tours fairly casual in the past. (There is one reception and dinner Kensington Palace described as a "glittering" event, so I guess we'll be finding out what their definition of "glittering" is pretty soon.)

This index will not focus specifically on potential loans to Kate but on a more broad range of items from The Queen's jewel vault, many of which aren't loaned to family members.

A note: In compiling this index, I have focused on jewels that we have covered here and jewels that have been worn for regular engagements by The Queen. Some are directly or speculatively tied to India by gifts or known stone provenances, and some have designs inspired by the country. I have not included items in the Crown Jewels or unworn items in the Royal Collection that may be considered more like museum pieces. This list is not comprehensive. Click the name of the jewel for more information.

A mix of pieces from India and pieces created by Queen Mary for the Delhi Durbar, the celebration in India marking the start of George V's reign, these jewels might have the best known connection to India in The Queen's personal collection. The Delhi Carved Emerald Brooch and the stones used in the Art Deco Emerald Choker were gifts from the Ladies of India to Queen Mary.

The Coronation Necklace and Earrings
The pendant on this famous necklace is the Lahore Diamond. Bearing the name of a location in Pakistan today, a 22.48 carat stone originally suspended from the Timur Ruby Necklace (another gem with an Indian connection, in the Royal Collection but unworn, so not listed here). The earring pendants were formerly part of the settings for both the Timur Ruby Necklace and the Koh-i-Noor.

Prince Albert may have drawn inspiration for the design of Queen Victoria's Oriental Circlet tiara from some of the Indian jewels she received. The rubies that eventually replaced the original opals in the set could also have an Indian connection from Queen Victoria's time.

Queen Mary's Indian Bangle Bracelets
 Queen Mary received these bracelets as a gift from the Bombay Presidency for her wedding in 1893, later giving them as a wedding gift to The Queen in 1947.

These were gifts from the Nizam of Hyderabad to The Queen for her wedding, but were selected from Cartier. The tiara is of course no longer with us, though the three rose brooches survive. The necklace was last seen on The Duchess of Cambridge.

The Emerald and Diamond Sarpech Brooch
This brooch, debuted in 2013, is in the style of a sarpech, "a turban ornament that was worn by significant Hindu and Muslim princes". Whether it has any actual ties to India beyond design inspiration, we don't know.

This is a modern design and a personal gift from The Duke of Edinburgh, but the recycled carved rubies in this brooch are said to have come from an Indian headdress.
According the The Queen's Jewels by Leslie Field, the pearls in one of The Queen's double strand necklace previously belonged to Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Punjab, and were received by Queen Victoria as a gift from the East India Company after Britain annexed the Punjab in 1849.

The Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace
In The Royal Jewels, Suzy Menkes refers to this piece as an Indian design and mentions that The Queen wore it during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1983 in New Delhi. She speculated that is could have been of Indian workmanship, and while we now know that it is a Boucheron creation from the Greville bequest, the design influence could still be there.

Menkes also mentions two additional wedding gifts to The Queen. One was an antique Rajput headdress of gold set with pearls, rubies, and diamonds mounted as a brooch from the Maharajah of Bundi; the other was two pairs of jeweled anklets set with brilliants and enamel drops mounted as a necklace from the Dominion of India.

As I said, this is certainly not comprehensive. If you can think of any others, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!

Photos: Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Christie's

28 March 2016

On "Our Queen at 90"

ITV aired the highly anticipated Our Queen at 90 on Sunday. The documentary was a mix of interviews, glimpses of The Queen at work and at play, and the usual biographical details that are included in every such production.

Several members of the Royal Family were interviewed, including The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, The Duke of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, The Countess of Wessex, and Peter Phillips. While some have noted the relatively light presence of Charles and the absence of Edward and Anne as conspicuous omissions, I personally appreciated the emphasis on those that haven't given as many interviews in the past (Kate and the York sisters; I longed for more Camilla and more Sophie).

Still, I must confess that some of the interviews did leave the impression that we've run out of ways to say that The Queen is special/extraordinary/etc. I cling to the personal anecdotes in these documentaries anyway; I loved The Duchess of Cambridge's relatable anxiety over what to get The Queen for her first Sandringham Christmas, and her relief at seeing the gift of homemade chutney placed on the table the next day. A small gesture from The Queen, but a sweet one.

With all documentaries on the Royal Family - this one included - my real reason for watching is the chance to see behind the scenes. Our Queen at 90 delivered with some fun footage of The Queen at home with her horses and small peeks inside her office (those of you that love identifying the photographs we see in her audiences should be in seventh heaven).

The behind the scenes look at the Diplomatic Reception was the highlight of the documentary from a jewel standpoint. (The clip we dissected earlier this month pretty much covered it.) October's Chinese state banquet made a brief appearance, and her use of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Badge on a day when she received members of the regiment was a small reminder of the thought put into every detail.

My surprise pick for MVP jewel of the documentary, though? The Sapphire Chrysanthemum Brooch, believe it or not. As an early addition to her brooch collection, it is one of the jewels she has been pictured wearing throughout the decades. Rare footage of Princess Elizabeth wearing the brooch during her time living in Malta was nicely (and perhaps unintentionally) bookended by footage of The Queen wearing the brooch at work today (seen in the clip above). It's a subtle reminder that part of what makes The Queen so intriguing are the things that do not change.

What did you think of the documentary? 
If you haven't seen it, it is available for a limited time on ITV's player (if you have access).

Photos: ITV screencaps

27 March 2016

Easter Service

The Queen and members of the Royal Family attended Easter Service in Windsor.
For more: Zimbio gallery.
The Queen has arrived to brighten up your Easter Sunday! I'm not sure it's possible to have a more sunshine-filled Easter outfit than this one. Picking up on her gold buttons, she wore her trusty Frosted Sunflower Brooch. Surprisingly, by my count, this is only the second time so far this year we've seen her wear this usual favorite.

Enjoy your Easter (or your excuse to eat chocolate and candy) (or both)! We'll have a rundown of the other Easter fashions on display tomorrow at the other blog.

Oh, and psst: Don't forget that Our Queen at 90 airs tonight in the U.K. at 8 pm on ITV! 

Photo:WPA Pool via Getty Images

24 March 2016

Royal Maundy Service

The Queen, accompanied by The Duke of Edinburgh, attended the Royal Maundy Service at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.
The traveling Maundy Thursday service has taken The Queen to most of the major cathedrals in the country, so it makes it an extra special treat to hold it right at home in her 90th birthday year. (Three cheers for no extra travel time ahead of the Easter weekend, right? If I was approaching 90, I'd consider it a downright jumpy clap-worthy moment.) The last time St. George's Chapel hosted the Royal Maundy service was in 1959.
Queen Victoria's Bow Brooch made its fourth appearance for the year, standing up well against the tweed of this Karl Ludwig outfit (with matching Angela Kelly hat).

Photos: via Getty Images, Telegraph/ITN video screencap

23 March 2016

Audience at Buckingham Palace

The Queen received the Lieutenant Governor of Manitoba, Janice Filmon, and her husband for a private audience at Buckingham Palace.

For more: Zimbio gallery.
Big month for Canadian lieutenant governors at Buckingham Palace. Big month too for those of you that love to investigate the various photos Her Maj has on display, so have at it.

Photo: via Getty Images

22 March 2016

Investiture at Buckingham Palace and Dinner Out in London

The Queen held an Investiture at Buckingham Palace.
As usual, I have yet to spot a brooch here.

March 21: The Queen had a private dinner out with The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra of Kent, dining at Bellamy's, Mayfair.
This is lovely! It's very rare that we catch wind of what Her Maj does in her private time (and that's precisely how it should be), so I like to imagine that she has a wild nightlife that she keeps entirely secret. And Anne and Alexandra, clearly, are her wingwomen.
Earrings, hard to tell from the photos

19 March 2016

"Our Queen at 90" Preview: 2015 Diplomatic Reception

It wouldn't be a milestone occasion for The Queen without a new documentary. Her Majesty's big birthday year brings us Our Queen at 90, airing on Easter Sunday on ITV, which has been making headlines since it was revealed that it would feature a sit-down solo interview with The Duchess of Cambridge. Previews just released promise fun tidbits from interviews with many members of the Royal Family (Kate reveals that George calls The Queen "Gan-gan") and a look inside the year's most elusive tiara engagement: the Diplomatic Reception.

Though the Buckingham Palace Diplomatic Reception is a staple on the annual royal calendar for December, photos are only rarely shown from inside. Documentary crews, however, have proven to be the exception. Let's take a look at what we can see in this short clip:

The Duchess of Cambridge made headlines when she was spotted heading to the reception wearing the Cambridge Lover's Knot Tiara for the first time, together with a pair of diamond earrings on loan from The Queen. She may have also worn same set of bracelets from The Queen that she did for October's Chinese state banquet, The Queen's Wedding Gift Bracelet and Queen Mary's Diamond Bar Choker Bracelet, although a better look is needed.

This is our first proper look at Kate in that iconic tiara. I have to say, she wears it extremely well. She seems to cover the base more than her late mother-in-law did, which is definitely to her advantage. This is also our first good look at this pale blue Alexander McQueen dress, and it is not what I thought it would be, but I think I like it.

This is a very formal occasion, and it is one at which you see the a part of the Order of the Garter insignia not often seen elsewhere: the actual Garter. The gentlemen are wearing knee breeches with the Garter attached just below the left knee.

Perhaps the most exciting thing here - as far as this blog is concerned - is that we get to see The Queen, finally! Her unseen tiara occasion for 2015 delivered the Garter insignia as well as her Royal Family Orders.

A favorite suite of diamonds was present as well: the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, the Coronation Necklace and Earrings, the Baguette and Brilliant Bracelet, and her current favorite Diamond Evening Watch. Combined with one very sparkly dress, this is as classic a look as you can get from The Queen today.

Our Queen at 90 airs Sunday, March 27, at 8 pm on ITV. ITV and the Mirror offer more quotes and clips.

Photos: Oxford Film & Television / ITV video screencaps

17 March 2016

London Zoo Lion Exhibit Opening

The Queen, Patron of the Zoological Society of London, and The Duke of Edinburgh visited the London Zoo to open the Land of the Lions exhibit. The Queen opened the previous lion enclosure at the zoo forty years ago.
For some engagements more than others, you get the feeling that every single person involved in the planning was thinking, "Oooh, this will be a good photo op...", you know? And a good engagement overall, of course; they couldn't stop peeking behind themselves as the lions roared during the presentation.

One of Her Maj's jauntiest hats was on tap for the occasion, plus the (relatively small) Greville Scroll Brooch. We haven't seen this one since 2014, though I'm sure it gets plenty of undocumented use.

We must give the DoE his recognition too - check out his panda tie! Sure, it's a WWF tie, so that's all very appropriate for the occasion. But still, you gotta love a guy that makes sure he wears his panda tie for a trip to the zoo.

Photos: via Getty Images, ZSL video screencaps

16 March 2016

High Commissioners' Banquet and Audiences

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh attended a reception for the High Commissioners' Banquet to mark Commonwealth Week at the Guildhall, London.
I said the first time we saw this outfit/brooch combo - which was during Commonwealth week last year - that I felt this suit needs a stronger gold brooch, and I have to stick with that assessment on second glance.

Also today, The Queen held audiences at Buckingham Palace.
I don't know what prompted this different look at the usual audience room, but I do know that a peek at this little sit down with the splendidly attired High Commissioner for Rwanda makes me way too happy. A brooch view! Bless. What I really can't believe is that I don't have a positively identified public appearance for the Cambridge Pearl - always a favorite - listed since July 2015. Inconceivable.

Photos: WPA Pool via Getty Images

15 March 2016

Audience at Buckingham Palace

The Queen received the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Lois Mitchell, and her husband for a private audience at Buckingham Palace.
Yeah, it's tough when you go accidental twinsies with Her Maj, because she'll always out brooch you. This is an excellent color on both of these women (and pretty much on anybody, I feel) and the second appearance of Marie Feodorovna's Sapphire Brooch this year is a special treat.

Photo:WPA Pool via Getty Images

14 March 2016

Commonwealth Day

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh joined other members of the Royal Family at Westminster Abbey for the Commonwealth Day Observance Service.
This is the second year in a row to feature a Commonwealth-associated brooch, following last year's Singapore brooch. (Recent years have seen her more likely to select a piece without strong specific ties.) The renewed life of this Australian opal brooch is an interesting turn of events; after many years leaving her opal pieces largely unworn, this 1947 wedding gift has now appeared for four years running.

Note: We'll be covering the other family members (well, okay, one other family member) on the other blog.

The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh were present at a Reception given by the Commonwealth Secretary-General at Marlborough House.
A more popular choice reigned for the later reception, with one of Queen Victoria's Bow Brooches and a textured pink suit with Pretty in Pink written all over it.

Photos: WPA Pool via Getty Images, BBC screencap

10 March 2016

Audience at Buckingham Palace

March 9: The Queen received the High Commissioner for Antigua and Barbuda, Karen-Mae Hill, for a private audience at Buckingham Palace.
HM has dressed to match her walls in what looks to be the Cullinan V Brooch. (And Her Excellency's hat game is strong, I must say.)

Photo: via Getty Images

08 March 2016

Prince's Trust Anniversary Visit

Accompanied by The Prince of Wales, The Queen visited The Prince's Trust Centre, Kennington, London. The visit was part of the 40th anniversary celebrations for The Prince's Trust.
I love the sneaky symbolism at play here, wearing a Crown heirloom for an engagement with the heir to the Crown. Not that it takes much to get me to applaud an appearance of Albert's Sapphire, anyway. (I do still think this hat looks like it got caught in a fancy tornado, though.)

Photo: via Getty Images

03 March 2016

Lister Community School Visit and Audiences

Today: The Queen visited a Queen's Trust beneficiary, Lister Community School, in Plaistow, East London.
I'm always happy to see this pink sapphire in action. On this occasion, though, I can't help but think the plain background of this coat could have handled something a little bigger...

March 2: The Queen held audiences at Buckingham Palace.
For more: Zimbio gallery.
After all my whining about not being able to see brooches at audiences, we've finally got one that's identifiable. Hilariously, it's one I probably would have guessed with or without the clear view.

Photo: via Getty Images, ITN video screencap

01 March 2016

Investiture at Buckingham Palace

The Queen held an Investiture at Buckingham Palace.
For more: Telegraph article.
Receiving the Royal Victorian Order today was Stewart Parvin, one of The Queen's couturiers. So what did she do? Wore a Stewart Parvin dress, of course! I love that. (Needless to say, I love this dress and its unseen accompanying coat, which we've seen many times.) I haven't seen the brooch, but she typically pairs this with amethysts or gold, especially the Frosted Sunflower.