We’ve been covering the Queen’s sparkling diamond tiaras all week, but I’ve saved one of my favorites for last: Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik. Today, we’ve got an appearance in Paris of a Russian-inspired tiara made for a Danish princess who became a British queen consort.
In April 1957, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh made a state visit to Paris, where they were hosted by President René Coty. It was her first state visit to France as Queen, but she’d previously made a visit with Prince Philip to Paris while she was still a princess. (Learn all about that visit over here!)
There were several sparkling events during the 1957 French state visit, including this one: a trip down the Seine on the French President’s yacht, the Borde-Frétigny, followed by a dinner at the British Embassy. For the river cruise and the dinner, the Queen wore full gala dress with her highest French decoration: the star and red sash of the Legion of Honour.
The Seine procession must have been a magical moment. The boat sailed beneath 21 bridges, and as the yacht passed by the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the bells rang out, and then a choir of 300 young boys sang for the British royals and the President. In the Daily News, John London wrote about the moment: “Only the French could achieve such flair and imagination. Tonight’s dreamland trip down the Seine can never be forgotten. Even Parisians saw their city in a new beauty in the glow of a million lights. They murmured in hushed wonder, ‘C’est magnifique.'”
For the occasion, the Queen glittered from head to toe. Her silver lace column gown was richly embroidered with crystals and accessorized with a silver stole trimmed in white fox fur. To the gown, she added jewels set with diamonds and pearls. Atop her head, Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik glittered like the wall of diamonds it is. The tiara, made in 1888, was inspired by one owned by Alexandra’s sister, Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia.
With the tiara, the Queen wore more diamonds and pearls inherited from generations past. Her earrings, the Gloucester Pendant Earrings, originally belonged to Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester and Edinburgh, a daughter of King George III. The Queen inherited the earrings from her grandmother, Queen Mary. She also wore Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace, with its complicated pearl and diamond pattern. And on her right wrist, she added one of Queen Mary’s Chain-Link Bracelets.