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Our look back at the jewels worn during the Queen’s reign at the State Opening of Parliament continues today with a glimpse of some of the sparkle worn during the 1970s and 1980s.
On July 2, 1970, the Queen sparkled in the Coronation Necklace and Earrings with the Imperial State Crown for the State Opening of Parliament. The ceremony was held just a few weeks after a new government had been elected, and Edward Heath had replaced Harold Wilson as prime minister.
Prince Charles and Princess Anne accompanied their parents to the ceremony, and Anne looked every inch the early ’70s princess in Princess Andrew’s Meander Tiara. In front of her, Lord Mountbatten holds the Sword of State. His role in the ceremony didn’t go as well as he might have hoped. One press report noted, “Several times 70-year-old Mountbatten seemed to sway and nearly fall from the royal platform. It seemed the 18-pound sword was too heavy for him. Once or twice anxious attendants stepped toward him as if they expected him to collapse. But he held out.” In late July 1970, Lord Mountbatten canceled all his public engagements for the following few weeks on doctor’s orders so that he could rest at his country home, Broadlands.
A few more members of the royal family were also in attendance. You’ll note Lord Snowdon taking his seat above, as well as Princess Margaret (wearing the Lotus Flower Tiara) and Princess Alexandra (wearing the Ogilvy Tiara).
London was on edge when the State Opening of Parliament was held on November 2, 1971. In an eerie echo of the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, a bomb threat had been called in ahead of the event, and only a few days before, two bombs exploded in the city — one at the post office tower and another at an army drill hall. The largest royal security operation ever was mounted ahead of the ceremony, and instead of just checking the cellars beneath parliament in the usual ceremonial way, experts combed the area four times to ensure no explosives had been planted. Thankfully, the State Opening went off without any issues. The Queen wore the Diamond Diadem and her Antique Girandole Earrings as she arrived with Prince Philip and Prince Charles for the event.
Things were less tense a year later when the Queen attended the State Opening on October 31, 1972. She wore the Coronation Necklace and Earrings with the two crowns during the ceremony, as well as the Edinburgh Wedding Bracelet. The bracelet was an appropriate touch; after the Queen and the Duke returned to Buckingham Palace following the State Opening, they posed for a formal portrait to celebrate their upcoming 25th wedding anniversary.
All eyes were on Princess Anne at the State Opening of Parliament on October 30, 1973. She was only weeks away from her wedding to Captain Mark Phillips, a grand ceremony held at Westminster Abbey in November 1973. She wore Princess Andrew’s Meander Tiara with her diamond drop earrings as she rode beside her mother in the carriage. The Queen wore Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace for the occasion.
On March 12, 1974, the Queen presided over an unusually pomp-free State Opening of Parliament. Mindful of the economic crisis that Britain was experiencing, the event was stripped back. No crown, no major jewels, no robes or ceremony. Instead, the Queen arrived by car, wearing the same suit and hat she’d worn for Princess Anne’s wedding a few months earlier, with Prince Albert’s Brooch pinned to her jacket.
Later the same year, a grand State Opening of Parliament ceremony was held on October 29. But tensions were high once more over the possibility of danger during the event. On June 17, the Provisional IRA had bombed the Houses of Parliament, causing extensive damage and injuring several people. As had been done three years earlier, a massive security operation was deployed during the procession and the ceremony, and the event went off without trouble.
This was another of the occasions on which the Queen wore jewelry with colored stones to the State Opening. Here, with the Imperial State Crown, she wears the Baring Ruby Necklace.
Princess Anne sat nearby, wearing her Diamond Festoon Tiara and other pieces from her Diamond Festoon Suite. You’ll note that Captain Mark Phillips is standing behind her, next to the Queen’s ladies-in-waiting.
Two more royal ladies were there in all their finery, too. The Duchess of Kent wore the Kent Pearl Fringe Tiara, and Princess Alexandra wore the Ogilvy Tiara.
On November 19, 1975, extraordinary precautions were once again taken to ensure that the State Opening of Parliament would not be bombed, following the deaths of eight people in London since that August. Once again, security measures were successful. The Queen wore the Baring Ruby Necklace again with the Imperial State Crown during her speech from the throne.
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Following the State Opening of Parliament on November 24, 1976, the Queen posed for a formal portrait to be used the following year as part of her Silver Jubilee celebrations. In the image, taken at Buckingham Palace after the ceremony, the Queen wears the Imperial State Crown and Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace.
|Keystone Archives/Heritage Images/Alamy|
On November 3, 1977, the Queen participated in the State Opening of Parliament ceremony as usual — but television viewers and radio listeners in Britain couldn’t see or hear it happening. Members of the Association of Broadcasting Staff was in the middle of a pay dispute with the BBC, and their subsequent strike meant that the event was not carried on television or radio. The Guardian reported that the “strike effectively stopped any television pictures of the newly-bespectacled Queen because the BBC has a special arrangement under which film of the ceremony is passed on to Independent Television.” Some still images of the ceremony do exist, however — so we can see above that the Queen wore her Diamond Festoon Necklace for the event. I think you’ll also recognize one of the pages walking behind the Queen. That’s the young Viscount Althorp (now Earl Spencer), the younger brother of Diana, Princess of Wales.
The world did get to see the bespectacled Queen read her speech from the throne on November 1, 1978. She wore the Coronation Necklace and Earrings for the ceremony.
On May 15, 1979, the Queen wore her Diamond Festoon Necklace as she delivered her speech from the throne. The State Opening of Parliament took place only weeks after the conservatives won a general election, making Margaret Thatcher the country’s first female prime minister.
Prince Charles and Princess Anne both attended the State Opening as well. Anne wore her Diamond Festoon Tiara, one of her pearl choker necklaces, and her diamond star brooch.
Rumors about Prince Charles’s love life were in the air during the State Opening of Parliament on November 21, 1980. The Queen wore her Diamond Festoon Necklace as she read her speech from the throne, but the press mostly wanted to talk about the possibility that the Prince would soon propose to Lady Diana Spencer.
By the following year, Lady Diana herself was attending the State Opening of Parliament. Now Princess of Wales, she accompanied the Queen, the Duke, Prince Charles, Princess Anne, and Mark Phillips to the ceremony on November 4, 1981. The Queen wore Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace for the ceremony; Diana sparkled in Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara.
On November 3, 1982, the State Opening of Parliament ceremony was held amid new concerns about palace security. While Charles and Diana were in London for the ceremony, Gloucestershire police arrested a reporter and a photographer on the grounds of Highgrove House. Another security breach also took place at the Royal Mews, where a Daily Mirror reporter was able to gain access to the coach used for the procession is housed. For the procession that year, the Queen wore the Coronation Necklace and Earrings with the Diamond Diadem, while Diana wore the Spencer Tiara with the King Khalid Necklace.
Rubies were the Queen’s jewel of choice for the State Opening of Parliament on June 22, 1983. She wore the Greville Ruby Necklace for the ceremony with the Diamond Diadem for the procession and the Imperial State Crown for the ceremony.
Security concerns were at the forefront once again during the State Opening on November 6, 1984, following the Brighton hotel bombing the previous month. There were no issues with the ceremony, during which the Queen wore the Imperial State Crown with the Coronation Necklace and Earrings.
Both Charles and Diana were present, with Diana wearing the Spencer Tiara with her Collingwood Pearl Drop Earrings.
For the State Opening on both November 6, 1985, and November 19, 1986 (pictured above), the Queen wore the Baring Ruby Necklace with both crowns.
The Queen dazzled in diamonds for the State Opening of Parliament on June 25, 1987, including her Diamond Festoon Necklace. (And don’t miss that gold fringe detail on the gown!)
The Queen wore the Diamond Diadem with Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace as she stepped out of the brand-new Australia State Coach on her arrival to the State Opening ceremony on November 22, 1988.
The State Opening of Parliament on November 21, 1989, brought us yet another outing of the Baring Ruby Necklace, paired with Queen Mary’s Ruby Cluster Earrings.
Stay tuned tomorrow for State Opening jewels from the ’90s and ’00s!
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