I know I promised tiaras in our Sparkling Spotlight posts this week about the Royal Variety Performance, but I couldn’t resist highlighting this particular outing: the Queen’s rather shocking gown and jewels from the 1999 show!
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh arrived at the Birmingham Hippodrome for the Royal Variety Performance on November 29, 1999. The event was held at the Hippodrome to mark the venue’s hundredth anniversary. It was the very first Royal Variety Performance ever staged outside of London. Performers at the event included Andrea Bocelli, Charlotte Church, Barry Manilow, and Westlife.
The Queen’s brightly colored dress for the evening grabbed headlines across the nation. The Daily Mirror declared her “The HarleQueen,” describing the outfit as “a harlequin-style sequin blouse, full-length silk skirt, [and] white gloves.” The Queen’s dressmaker, Maureen Rose, described the colorful ensemble in a press interview as “a complete change,” adding, “We are trying to show her off a bit.” Indeed!
With the bright dress, the Queen wore a cuff-style, pavé-set diamond necklace and matching bracelet, pairing them with diamond fringe earrings given to her by King Hassan II of Morocco. I don’t believe we know the provenance of the modern cuff suite. The Queen has loaned the jewels to at least one other member of the family: the Countess of Wessex, who wore the necklace to a ball in 2016.