25 June 2015

State Visit Jewels: Elizabeth II in Germany (Part 1)

I'm exhausted just thinking about the Queen's work schedule, and I'm nearly sixty years younger than she is! After a jam-packed week of events in Britain, Elizabeth and Philip jetted off to Germany for a state visit. Let's have a look at the jewels from their first two days on German soil.

When the Queen deplaned in Berlin, she arrived wearing a major British heirloom jewel that was a gift from a German prince. The Albert Brooch, which features a large sapphire ringed with diamonds, was given to Queen Victoria by her husband-to-be, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, as a wedding present in 1840. The Queen wears it frequently, including an outing last week at Royal Ascot.

For the official welcome ceremony on Wednesday morning, the Queen repeated an outfit and jewels that she wore during the state visit to France last June. (The coat was also worn during the Diamond Jubilee pageant on the Thames.) The brooch, which is a floral design set with diamonds and made, I believe, of various colors of gold, was actually worn for the first time during that French state visit.

The state banquet on Wednesday evening was a combination of expected jewels and surprises. Just as she did on the 2014 French state visit -- and as she does almost always these days -- the Queen selected the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara for the dinner. (Read more about the intriguing timeline of this tiara's history over here.) The tiara is sort of fitting for the occasion, however, as it was a wedding gift to a German princess (Mary of Teck) who was marrying a British prince.

But along with that very expected tiara, she also wore the necklace, earrings, and brooch of the crown ruby parure. We also saw this brooch last week at Royal Ascot -- in fact, that was the first time she'd ever worn it in public! (Maybe Ascot was a sort of trial run for this visit? Who knows!) The crown rubies were designed in part by a German prince -- again, Prince Albert -- and were originally made to coordinate with Queen Victoria's Oriental Circlet. The entire suite was originally set with opals and later changed to rubies.

There was also a secret bonus jewel on display! The Queen used the Emperor of Austria Brooch to secure the back of the sash of her German order, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. This brooch was also especially appropriate for the visit, as it was a gift from Emperor Franz Joseph of Austria to the Duchess of Teck, Queen Mary's mother, on the occasion of the christening of Prince Francis of Teck in 1870. The brooch also has a collet chain and three pearl pendants, but that section is detachable, and the Queen is only wearing the large circular portion with its enormous central pearl.

The diamond "bracelet" on the Queen's left wrist is actually her diamond evening wristwatch.

You can see above that her right wrist was bracelet-free. (You can also see the DoE's impressive chest full of medals.)

He's also wearing the star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany and the neck ribbon and badge of the Order of Merit.