14 October 2019

Jewels of the State Opening of Parliament 2019


Today in London, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom opened parliament for the first time since 2017 -- and in grand jewels for the first time since 2016. But there's been a big change, one I've suspected was coming for some time...

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...the Queen, who is now 93, is no longer wearing the 2.3-pound Imperial State Crown in public.

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Instead, the crown was carried in during the procession, moving directly ahead of the Queen.

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And the crown rested on a cushion near the Queen as she delivered her speech. As I said, I've long suspected that this change was coming. During the last state opening, the crown was also carried in, but that's because it was a "casual" version of the event, and the Queen wore a hat. But now, the crown is certainly too difficult and cumbersome for the Queen to balance on her head as she walks in the procession. I'm not surprised that she's decided against wearing it going forth.

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Instead of the crown, the Queen wore the jewel she always wears for the trip to and from parliament: the Diamond Diadem. It's the grandest non-crown that the Brits have. Made in 1820 ahead of the coronation of King George IV, the piece has been worn by queens regnant and consort in ensuing reigns.

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The grand diadem is set with diamonds and pearls, and it features the national flowers of England, Scotland, and Ireland in its design. The diadem is a familiar part of the state opening tradition, and it makes sense to use it as a sort of compromise crown for the occasion.

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Even without the crown, the Queen was absolutely decked in diamonds for the occasion. Her jewels also included Queen Mary's Cluster Earrings, which are set with center stones given to Mary by the Bombay Presidency in 1893. The Queen also wore the grand Coronation Necklace, made for Queen Victoria in 1858 to replace jewels lost in the Hanoverian Claim.


The Queen also wore a diamond watch on her left wrist and a diamond bracelet on her right wrist.


Here's another look at the diamond bracelet.

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The Queen was accompanied by the Prince of Wales for the traditional ceremony. Both wore the grand collar of the Order of the Garter.


The Duchess of Cornwall also attended alongside her husband.

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Camilla wore some of her go-to gala jewels for the state opening: the Greville Tiara, her favorite pearl drop earrings, and her pearl choker with the large diamond clasp. She secured the sash of the Royal Victorian Order with an intriguing brooch.

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There were also a few other members of the royal family present. The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester attended with their son and his wife, the Earl and Countess of Ulster. (Lord and Lady Ulster's son, Lord Culloden, was one of the Pages of Honor at the state opening.) For the event, Birgitte wore pearls with her Art Deco circle brooches. (See them here!)

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Lady Susan Hussey, one of the Queen's most recognizable ladies-in-waiting, was standing near the throne during the speech. She wore a suite of diamond jewels that includes a bandeau-style tiara and a coordinating necklace, as well as pearl drop earrings and a round diamond brooch.

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I believe the other lady-in-waiting standing near the throne is Jennifer Gordon-Lennox, whose mother, the late Jean Woodroffe, was also a lady-in-waiting (and cousin by marriage) of the Queen. She wore a small diamond tiara and pearls for the state opening.

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And, as always, we also got a Selection of Other Tiaras from the spouses of members of the House of Lords.