In October 1957, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh headed to Ottawa to attend the state opening of Canada’s parliament. For the occasion, the Queen wore her coronation gown with major royal diamonds.
The Queen and the Duke were in Canada for a royal tour from October 12-16, 1957, after which they headed to the United States for a visit with President Eisenhower. While in Canada, the Queen officially opened Canada’s 23rd parliamentary session in Ottawa on October 14. The Queen read a speech from the throne during the hour-long ceremony.
For the occasion, the Queen wore a very important dress: the coronation gown made for her by Norman Hartnell in 1952-53. The dress features national symbols in its embroidery, which the Royal Collection describes as “arranged in three scalloped, graduated tiers bordered with alternating lines of gold bugle beads, diamantés and pearls.”
She’s also wearing several decorations, including the sash and star of the Order of the Garter, as well as the Royal Family Orders of her father and grandfather. (The Queen didn’t yet have any Canadian orders at this point, as the Order of Canada wasn’t established until ten years later.)
Here’s a closer look at the embroidery on the coronation gown. This photograph was taken in October 2003, when it was being prepared by conservators from Historic Royal Palaces at Hampton Court Palace to be put on public display.
The Queen wore jewels set with diamonds and pearls for the appearance at parliament. The spotlight jewel of the ensemble was Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik, a dazzling diamond tiara that was made for Queen Alexandra and bequeathed to the Queen by Queen Mary in 1953. The tiara was made to resemble one owned by Alexandra’s sister, Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia. It’s a suitable stand-in for a crown—it really is an imposing wall of diamonds!