Four years ago today, King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain were in the middle of a landmark state visit to the United Kingdom. On the second evening of the trip, the royal couple headed to the Guildhall in London for a banquet, and Letizia brought along lots of dazzling jewels. Today, we’re looking back at all the royal sparkle we saw at this glittering event.
During state visits by foreign leaders to Britain, the City of London Corporation traditionally holds a banquet in that leader’s honor at the Guildhall, usually on the second day of the visit. On July 13, 2017, King Felipe and Queen Letizia were greeted as they arrived by the Lord Mayor London, Andrew Parmley, who held the role in 2016-17. (He’s the one in the velvet and ermine cloak.) His wife, Wendy, stands to King Felipe’s right.
King Felipe inspected a guard of honor before the banquet. He wore the insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece, Spain’s highest-ranking order of chivalry, around his neck. He also wore the star and sash of the Order of the Garter, which had been bestowed on him the previous day.
Queen Letizia arrived wearing the blue and white-striped sash and star of her highest Spanish order, the Order of Charles III.
She chatted with the Lord Mayor as Felipe inspected the honor guard.
We got an excellent view of Queen Letizia’s glamorous blue gown on her arrival at the Guildhall. The dress, which featured an asymmetrical draped neckline, was made by Carolina Herrera.
Letizia accessorized with diamond and sapphire jewelry, combining antique pieces from the Spanish royal collection with new, modern jewels.
Her tiara, the Spanish Floral Tiara, has a British connection. The classic diamond floral tiara was made in 1879 by a British jewelry firm, J.P. Collins. It was purchased by King Alfonso XII of Spain as a gift for his new wife, Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria. The tiara left the family collection in the 1930s, but in the 1960s, it was given as a wedding present to Letizia’s mother-in-law, Queen Sofia of Spain. It’s been worn by the ladies of the royal family ever since, and it has become a particular favorite of Queen Letizia.
With the tiara, Queen Letizia wore two newer pieces of jewelry. Her large diamond and sapphire earrings are newer additions to her jewelry box, but their design echoes the converted epaulette earrings worn by other royals (including the Swedes). The dark blue sapphires in the earrings are surrounded by diamond borders in laurel-wreath patterns.
Letizia secured her order sash using a diamond brooch shaped like a fleur-de-lis, an important symbol of the House of Borbón. The jewel is the detachable centerpiece of Letizia’s modern diamond and pearl tiara, made by Ansorena.
On her left wrist, Letizia stacked an important pair of heirloom jewels: the joyas de pasar bracelets. These unique diamond bracelets come from the collection of Queen Ena of Spain, who was the daughter of a British princess. In her will, Ena designated the bracelets, along with numerous other jewels, as jewels to be worn by future Queens of Spain. Letizia has worn the bracelets often since becoming queen consort in 2014.
Felipe and Letizia weren’t the only royals at the dinner. The Princess Royal and Sir Timothy Laurence represented the Queen at the event.
Princess Anne wore a gown in a light shade of silvery lavender with a lace overlay, embroidered in silver and gold, appliqued with flowers, and embellished with sequins. The blue sash of the Order of the Garter was draped across the dress. She also wore two stars: the star of the Order of the Garter, and the star of the Order of Isabella the Catholic. Anne received the latter from King Felipe during this state visit.
It’s always so interesting to me to see the formal greetings between royals. Here, Anne curtseys to Felipe; as a monarch, he outranks her, so even though she’s his senior in terms of age, he’s her senior in terms of rank.
Anne wore some of her most important personal diamond jewels for the banquet. The star of the show was her diamond festoon tiara. Anne received the classic diamond tiara from World-Wide Shipping Group, a Hong Kong firm, after she christened one of their ships in 1973.
She also wore the necklace and earrings from her coordinating diamond festoon suite. Anne received the necklace and earrings from her parents, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, as an 18th-birthday present. Her diamond ribbon and tassel brooch, which was pinned to her order sash on this occasion, was a wedding gift from her brother, the Prince of Wales, in 1973.
The Guildhall itself also adds extra shine to the event. Check out the chairs and the table decorations!