A royal visit to Cambridge brought us the unveiling of a new royal portrait today—and a surprise appearance from a very important royal heirloom brooch!
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge headed to Cambridgeshire for an official visit on Thursday, making several stops throughout the area.
One of their first appointments was a visit to the Fitzwilliam Museum at the University of Cambridge, where they viewed a new joint portrait of themselves.
The picture was painted by artist Jamie Coreth. The portrait was commissioned by the Cambridgeshire Royal Portrait Fund. It will also be displayed at the National Portrait Gallery.
Here’s a look at the finished painting. In the image, Kate wears a green dress from The Vampire’s Wife, previously worn in 2020 for a reception at the famous Guinness Storehouse during the Cambridge’s visit to Ireland, with a pair of Manolo Blahnik heels.
It was the jewelry worn by Kate in the portrait, though, that immediately caught my attention. For the first time, the Queen has loaned the Duchess of Cambridge’s Pearl Pendant Brooch to Kate. The jewel is pinned near her left shoulder in the painting.
As the name of the brooch suggests, it was made for a previous royal Duchess of Cambridge: Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel, a daughter-in-law of King George III. Sir Hugh Roberts tells us that the pearl, diamond, and silver brooch was likely made by Garrard. Here, an elderly Augusta wears the brooch in a painting commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1877. The original portrait was painted by Heinrich von Angeli, and numerous copies were made after the original. This particular version, painted by Robert Antoine Muller, is part of the collection of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
The next owner of the brooch was Princess Augusta’s younger daughter, Princess Mary Adelaide, Duchess of Teck. She wears the brooch as a pendant on a pearl necklace. She’s also wearing several other recognizable jewels, including the Teck Crescent Tiara (now on loan to the Duchess of Cornwall) and the Teck Hoop Necklace (now in the collection of the Earl of Snowdon).
The Duchess of Teck was the mother of Queen Mary, who inherited the brooch and treasured it throughout her life. She often wore the brooch pinned near her throat, as she does in this photograph from the christening of her great-grandson, the Prince of Wales, in 1948. (She had previously also worn the brooch for the Queen’s christening in 1926.)
When Queen Mary died in 1953, the Cambridge Pearl Pendant Brooch was one of the numerous jewelry pieces that she bequeathed to the Queen. It’s easily been one of the Queen’s most-worn brooches during her reign. Here, in April 1976, she wears the brooch for her 50th birthday portraits at Windsor Castle.
And here, in December 2014, she wears the brooch for her annual Christmas broadcast.
The Queen’s decision to loan the brooch to Kate feels like a particularly significant one. It’s an incredible heirloom jewel with more than a century of royal provenance. In the portrait, Kate wears the brooch with additional pearl and diamond pieces, all of which come from the collection of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
Kate wears the Collingwood Pearl Drop Earrings in the image, which have become favorites of hers in recent years. The earrings were given to Diana by Collingwood as a wedding present in 1981. She often paired them with Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara. Here, she wears the combination at the British embassy in Washington, D.C., in 1985.
Kate has become a particular fan of this tiara/earring pairing as well, but she also wears the earrings for other occasions, including daytime events. Here, she wears the earrings with a black-and-white ensemble on Garter Day in June 2019.
In the new portrait, Kate also wears Diana’s Three-Stranded Pearl Bracelet. The jewel was made by Nigel Milne in 1988 as part of a collection supporting Birthright, a British charity supporting mothers and babies. (Diana was the charity’s patron.) Diana famously wore the bracelet (with the Lover’s Knot Tiara and the Collingwood Pearl Drop Earrings) in Hong Kong in November 1989. She wore the jewels with her iconic “Elvis Dress” by Catherine Walker.
Kate has worn the Nigel Milne bracelet on several previous occasions, including a reception in Berlin during the Cambridges’ official visit to Germany in the summer of 2017.
Earlier this year, she wore both the Collingwood earrings and the Nigel Milne bracelet for another portrait: a photograph taken by Paolo Roversi to mark her 40th birthday.
The portrait unveiling was only one of the engagements scheduled during William and Kate’s visit to Cambridgeshire. They also made several other stops, including a visit to East Anglia’s Children’s Hospice in Milton.
Kate wore a patterned dress from LK Bennett for the visit, paired with a light blue jacket and accessories.
She wore a pair of earrings that have been in her jewelry box for a decade: her diamond and aquamarine earrings. She debuted these back in 2012 during the Diamond Jubilee tour of Singapore and Malaysia, and she’s worn them for various occasions in the ten years since.
The visit to Cambridgeshire was the second major appearance in as many days by the Cambridges. On Wednesday, they were at Waterloo Station in London for the unveiling of an important new memorial: the National Windrush Monument. The new statue pays tribute to the thousands of people from Caribbean nations who arrived in the United Kingdom from the 1940s through the 1970s.
The unveiling of the new monument took place on Windrush Day. The holiday commemorates the arrival of hundreds of Caribbean people in Essex aboard the Empire Windrush on June 22, 1948. The day recognizes the contributions that immigrants and their descendants have made to the United Kingdom.
In his remarks during the monument unveiling, Prince William thanked the Windrush generation for helping to shape modern Britain. “Without you all, Britain would simply not be what it is today,” he said, adding, “I want to say a profound thank you to every member of that generation, and the generations that have followed.”
The Cambridges joined other dignitaries for the monument unveiling, including Baroness Benjamin. Floella Benjamin is a beloved Trinidadian-British actress, singer, and children’s television presenter. She’s been a member of the House of Lords since 2010. (And I really like the necklace she wore for the unveiling!)
Kate wore statement earrings from Chalk, a jewelry firm run by the architect Malaika Carr. Each piece of jewelry from the company is handmade by Carr. These are the Florence earrings from the range, which are inspired by the architecture of London’s Royal Opera House.