In November 1952, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom arrived at the London Palladium with the Duke of Edinburgh and Princess Margaret for the first Royal Variety Performance of her reign. For the occasion, she chose a suite of jewels that she chose personally from Cartier.
The Stage summed up the occasion nicely: “History was made at the Palladium on Monday night when, for the first time, a reigning Queen of England attended a Royal Variety Performance. Her Majesty is no stranger to music hall. As Princess Elizabeth she went with her parents to no fewer than six Royal Variety Shows.” Among the acts that the Queen greeted after the show were Scottish comedian Charlie Naughton, American dancer Nanci Crompton, French entertainer Maurice Chevalier, and the Italian tenor Beniamino Gigli (who shakes her hand here).
Both princesses were dripping in diamonds for the occasion. Margaret wore a diamond riviere, and she pinned her ruby and diamond floral brooch, which was made four years earlier by Cartier, to the strap of her red velvet evening gown.
The Queen also turned to the Cartier pieces in her jewelry box for the occasion. With her gown, described in the papers as “a full-skirted gown of gold and silver and turquoise silk” she wore diamonds and a fur wrap.
Her tiara and necklace were part of the Nizam of Hyderabad Suite. The jewels were a wedding gift from the Nizam to Elizabeth in 1947. Instead of choosing the jewels for her, he told her to choose anything she’d like from the existing stock at Cartier. She selected this diamond floral tiara (with elements that could be removed and worn as brooches) and its coordinating necklace. Later, she had the tiara dismantled, saving the rose brooches and using the remaining diamonds in the construction of the Burmese Ruby Tiara.
She finished off the look with two more wedding presents. The Greville Chandelier Earrings, also made by Cartier, were part of her wedding presents from her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. She also wore the pair of traditional Indian bangle bracelets that Queen Mary gave her as a wedding present. The earrings had been a part of the Greville bequest, and the bracelets were from Queen Mary’s own wedding gift collection, having been presented to her by the Bombay Presidency.
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