22 September 2020

State Visit Jewels: The Queen Visits Ireland (2011)

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The spring of 2011 was a momentous time for the Windsors. Not only did the family celebrate the wedding of a future king, the Queen embarked on one of the most important state visits of her entire reign: the first visit of a reigning British monarch to the Republic of Ireland.




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The visit came a century after the last visit of a reigning monarch to Dublin. King George V and Queen Mary, the Queen's grandparents, made a tour of Ireland in July 1911 to mark their accession to the throne. At that time, George V was Ireland's ruler -- but anyone familiar with Irish history knows that changed in the twentieth century. When the Queen touched down in Dublin on May 17, 2011, she was there as a foreign head of state on a diplomatic visit.


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On her arrival, the Queen wore an important royal jewel: one of Queen Victoria's Diamond Bow Brooches.


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After their arrival, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh headed straight for Aras An Uachtarain, where they had tea with President Mary McAleese and her husband, Martin.


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Then she visited Dublin's Garden of Remembrance, where both she and President McAleese laid ceremonial wreaths.


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For the memorial visit, as well as the rest of her afternoon engagements, the Queen wore the Grima Ruby Brooch, which features a central carved ruby and a scarab motif.


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Next, the Queen and the Duke made a visit to Trinity College, where they viewed several of the university's treasures, including the Book of Kells.


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On May 18, the Queen and the Duke began the day at another important Irish institution: the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Here, they're pictured at the Gravity Bar atop the building.


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For the Guinness visit, the Queen wore her Aquamarine Clips. These were a birthday gift from her father, King George VI, in 1944.


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She wore the clips for the rest of her morning engagements on the 18th, including a visit to the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, where she placed another wreath.


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In the afternoon, she changed her clothes and jewelry before her arrival at Croke Park, where she was hosted by Gaelic Athletic Association President Christy Cooney.


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For this portion of the visit, she wore the Australian Wattle Brooch, which she's had in her jewelry box since 1954.


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That evening, the Queen and the Duke joined President McAleese and other important Irish officials for a state banquet at Dublin Castle.


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The Queen wore diamonds for the dinner, including the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara. Young women from Ireland were among the subscribers who donated money toward the purchase of this tiara, which was a wedding gift to Queen Mary in 1893. The Queen's gown also featured a crystal embellishment designed in the shape of a Celtic harp, one of Ireland's national symbols. Additionally, the top of her gown was decorated with silk shamrocks. (The dress is discussed in detail in Angela Kelly's Dressing the Queen.)


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The Queen also accessorized with her modern diamond fringe necklace and Queen Mary's Diamond Floret Earrings. On her right wrist she wore her modern three-row diamond bracelet, with its two distinctive knot-like design elements.


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On her left wrist, she wore her diamond evening watch. This photo also clearly shows one of the most delightful bejeweled parts of this banquet: the rings! Along with her wedding and engagement rings, the Queen wore another diamond ring on the middle finger of her left hand. I think this one is Queen Mary's Town of Windsor Ring, which was a wedding gift from, of course, the town of Windsor.


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A closer look at her right hand reveals two more diamond rings as well. I don't know the provenance of these rings, which both look to be more like diamond eternity bands in design.


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On the morning of May 19, the Queen and the Duke traveled to Kildare for an engagement that was right up the Queen's alley: a visit to the Irish National Stud.


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The delighted monarch wore another classic and important brooch from the royal vault for the visit: Prince Albert's Brooch.


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Later in the day, the royal couple returned to Dublin, where they joined President McAleese for a special reception highlighting the best of Irish culture at the city's Convention Center.


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For the occasion, she wore a brand-new brooch, which had been presented to her earlier in the visit by President McAleese. This silver brooch features spiral designs inspired by the prehistoric Newgrange Monument in County Meath. The gift also included a pair of matching cufflinks for the Duke.


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On the morning of the last day of the visit, May 20, the Queen and the Duke traveled by helicopter to the Rock of Cashel in County Tipperary.


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They toured the site, including the cathedral, with officials and cabinet members.


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Next, the couple traveled to Cork, where the Queen unveiled a plaque -- and chatted with a fishmonger -- at the English market. She also took part in a walkabout.


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Day four of the visit finally saw the Queen bring out an emerald in the Emerald Isle. She wore the round diamond and cluster portion of the Cambridge Emerald Cluster Brooch, leaving off its pear-shaped emerald drop.


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And then, it was time to head back to the United Kingdom. The Queen was escorted to her aircraft at Cork Airport by Taoiseach Enda Kenny. It was the end of a truly historic moment from the Queen's long reign.