21 February 2017

Jewel History: Almost Outshone Queen (1909)

King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra at the Opening of Parliament, ca. 1910

"Almost Outshone Queen"
(originally appeared in the Washington Post on 21 Feb 1909)

The American Countess Granard [1] made her debut publicly at the opening of parliament on Tuesday. All the peeresses who were present in the gilded chamber of the House of Lords were eager to see her. She shared the peeresses' attention with the Queen, and was thoroughly stared at by the wives and daughters of the various lords.

Queen Alexandra wears the Cullinan I and II Diamonds at the State Opening of Parliament in 1910

The countess created a sensation with her jewels. After the Queen [2], who wore the crown jewels, no woman in the chamber wore so many splendid gems as the new American countess, and if the Queen had not worn the Cullinan diamonds [3] for the first time, the American countess would have outshone Her Majesty.

Beatrice Forbes, Countess of Granard, ca. 1909 (Wikimedia Commons)

Lady Granard wore a new tiara and a splendid necklace of diamonds, while her bodice was fairly covered with diamonds. The ornaments in her hair were the three white ostrich feathers which are worn by all the peeresses of her rank.

Alexandra wears the Cullinans to Parliament in the following year, 1910

The Queen ordinarily wears a number of pearl necklaces, but on this occasion, she wore a diamond necklace. Her corsage was covered with diamond ornaments, and from her necklace depended two splendid fragments of the great Cullinan diamond. They dazzled the envious peeresses with their extraordinary brilliance.


1. Beatrice Forbes, Countess of Granard (1883-1972), nee Beatrice Mills. She was a daughter of the American financier Ogden Mills; the family was very involved in the world of Thoroughbred racing. Beatrice married Bernard Forbes, 8th Earl of Granard in January 1909. Lord Granard was Master of the Horse in 1909, which means that he was a key part of the ceremonies for the State Opening of Parliament.

2. Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom (1844-1925), born Princess Alexandra of Denmark. She was the wife and queen consort of King Edward VII.

3. Read more about the magnificent Cullinan Diamond over here.