The Queen’s jewelry box is filled with diamonds, and some of those jewels have become HM’s favorite, most-worn pieces. Among these are the tiara and necklace that she chose for this occasion, an important artistic anniversary in 1964.
On November 12, 1964, the Queen and the Queen Mother attended a special performance at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. The occasion was indeed a very special one: the celebration of the drama school’s Diamond Jubilee. RADA was founded in 1904 by Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree. Many of Britain’s most accomplished actors have studied at the academy, and its list of presidents includes many familiar names. Among them are Dame Sybil Thorndike, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Richard Attenborough, and the current president, Sir Kenneth Branagh. Diana, Princess of Wales served as RADA’s president from 1989 until 1997.
The Queen’s evening gown for the occasion was made of coral satin, and she accessorized with major diamonds, all of which are linked to her grandmother, Queen Mary.
The spotlight piece of the ensemble was, of course, the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, which was one of Queen Mary’s wedding presents back in 1893. She gave the tiara and its base separately to the Queen as wedding presents in 1947. Here, the Queen is still wearing the tiara without the base, which was later reattached.
The Queen’s necklace for the occasion is the Diamond Festoon Necklace, commissioned in 1950 by her father, King George VI. He used a cache of loose diamonds to make the necklace. The individual stones were Queen Mary’s “leftover” diamonds, used to make adjustments and repairs to pieces, like lengthening necklaces. She had earmarked the diamonds as heirlooms to the crown, so when Queen Elizabeth II came to the throne in 1952, she became the exclusive wearer of the festoon necklace.
The Queen’s earrings for the occasion were also from Queen Mary’s jewelry box. These are the Mackinnon Floret Earrings. The central diamonds in the earrings were a wedding gift to Mary in 1893 from Sir William Mackinnon. She played around with the setting of the diamonds for several years, but in 1939, she had them placed in the center of these Garrard diamond and platinum floret earrings.
In the photograph of the Queen descending the staircase, you’ll spot one more of Queen Mary’s jewels. On her right wrist, the Queen wore one of Queen Mary’s Chain-Link Bracelets. The bracelets were made for Queen Mary in the 1930s. They can be linked together and worn as a choker necklace, but the Queen has generally preferred to wear them as bracelets, and only one at a time.
The Queen Mother, who was dressed in pale blue satin, also attended the performance. She opted for an interesting color contrast with her jewels, wearing diamonds and rubies with the light blue outfit. Her tiara is Queen Victoria’s Indian Circlet, designed by Prince Albert after a visit to the Great Exhibition. She paired the Crown Ruby Necklace and Earrings with the tiara as well. Her brooch is one of her Cartier Ruby Floral Clip Brooches, and her bracelet is Queen Mary’s Diamond Choker Bracelet (which is now worn by the Duchess of Cambridge).