08 November 2014

Festival of Remembrance Jewels

On Saturday night in London, the Windsors gathered for the annual Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall. The festival, which is presented by the Royal British Legion, is held every year on the Saturday before Remembrance Sunday. Musical performances, military displays, and prayers are included in the festival program, which is designed to honor those who lost their lives in British military conflicts; the festival culminates with a shower of poppy petals falling from the ceiling.

The royal family traditionally attends the evening performance of the festival, and this year, they were out in force. The princes and dukes wore their military badges pinned to their suit jackets, and the royal women wore brooches with gatherings of poppies. Here's a look at the jewels they wore, including several pieces with direct ties to the armed forces and to the Royal British Legion's poppy appeal.

The Queen often uses one of her many bow brooches to gather the stems of her poppies, but for the festival, she wore her poppies alongside Queen Mary's Richmond Brooch. The large diamond brooch, which has a round pearl set in its center and a pear-shaped pearl drop, was a wedding gift to Mary in 1893 from the town of Richmond, where the Teck family lived at White Lodge. The brooch is a large, grand piece, often chosen for foreign visits and major occasions. It makes sense to me that she chose a piece of jewelry for this year's festival that belonged to her grandmother -- after all, this is the year of centenary commemorations of World War I, and Mary was the nation's queen consort during the war.

With the Richmond brooch, the Queen wore pearl earrings and one of her two-stranded pearl necklaces. The Queen has lots of sets of pearls, and it can be almost impossible to tell them apart. But based on the drape of this set, I think it might be the Queen Anne and Queen Caroline pearl necklaces worn together. The necklaces are serious antiques, and they're named after the two queens who supposedly first owned them -- the Queen Anne necklace (which belonged to Queen Anne, the last monarch from the House of Stuart) is the smaller one, and the Queen Caroline necklace (which belonged to Caroline of Ansbach, wife of George II) is slightly larger. Victoria designated these as heirlooms of the crown, and the Queen received them from her parents as a wedding gift in 1947 and wore them on her wedding day.

HM is also wearing pearl and diamond cluster earrings -- possibly the earrings from Queen Alexandra's wedding parure? The size looks to match the Garrard-made earrings from that set, which was given to Alexandra by her husband, the future Edward VII, in 1862.

Newly returned from their tour of Colombia and Mexico, the Duchess of Cornwall repeated one of the pieces of jewelry that she wore on that trip: her diamond serpent necklace, which has been in her collection since before her wedding to Prince Charles in 2005. Many think that the necklace was probably a gift from her husband. She's also wearing pearl earrings, likely the same diamond and pearl pair that she also wore during the tour, and a diamond bracelet.

The Countess of Wessex neatly solved the brooch-or-poppies dilemma by wearing a crystal poppy brooch made by Buckley London. Proceeds from the sale of the poppy brooch support to the Royal British Legion. Sophie is also wearing the cap badge of Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps; she is the colonel-in-chief of the corps. Her earrings are the Lemon Topaz Gemstone Cluster Earrings from Heavenly Necklaces.

The Duchess of Gloucester wore a strand of lovely gray pearls. The clip-like elements on her collar aren't part of the necklace, but I've not been able to discern whether they're separate pieces of jewelry or a part of the garment. Birgitte secured her poppies with a cap badge -- I believe it's the badge of the Royal Army Dental Corps. Birgitte is their colonel-in-chief.

One of my favorite British royals, Princess Alexandra,was elegant as usual, wearing a pearl choker with a geometric pearl and diamond clasp, one of her signature pieces. She's also wearing diamond and pearl cluster earrings, her diamond floral brooch, and two cap badges that I've not been able to identify from these photographs.

The Festival is a precursor to tomorrow's somber Remembrance Day ceremonies at the Cenotaph. We'll be back here tomorrow afternoon with a look at the jewels chosen on Sunday to honor the memories of British servicemen and women.