The Prince and Princess of Wales made their first official visit to the nation since their recent elevation on Tuesday, and the event had plenty of echoes—both bejeweled and otherwise—of their own history in the area.
William and Kate, who were created Prince and Princess of Wales following the death of Queen Elizabeth II a few weeks ago, chose the island of Anglesey in north west Wales for Tuesday’s visit. The couple are very familiar with the area, to say the least. William was stationed at RAF Valley, where he worked as a search and rescue pilot, on the island from January 2010 until September 2013. He and Kate lived together in a cottage on the Bodorgan Hall estate during his tenure.
For their return to Anglesey as Prince and Princess of Wales, William and Kate chose to visit the Holyhead Lifeboat Station, part of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution charity. There, they spoke with members of the public, including little Theo Crompton, who offered Kate a bouquet of flowers. (William also compared ties with the four-year-old, declaring that Theo’s was clearly the smarter of the two.)
William and Kate also met with numerous lifeboat crew members during the visit, some of whom William worked with during his time piloting a search-and-rescue helicopter in the area. “It was an absolute pleasure to welcome The Prince and Princess of Wales to Holyhead RNLI and a privilege to have met them. They both showed a genuine and passionate interest in the work of the RNLI, from our shop volunteers to the lifeboat crew. They spent a long time chatting to many of us about our individual roles and the part we play in saving lives at sea. They seemed so at ease and asked many interesting questions about the RNLI, showing a particular interest in mental health,” said Tony Price, Holyhead RNLI Coxswain.
For the visit, Kate reached into her jewelry box for a familiar pair of earrings: her squared-off gold hoop earrings from Spells of Love, a brand created by Welsh jewelry designer Hayley Jones.
The earrings were a callback to her last visit to Wales, which took place during the Platinum Jubilee festivities in June. Kate wore them with another red outfit for a visit to Cardiff Castle with William, George, and Charlotte.
In fact, the entire visit was a throwback to a previous moment in time. Way back in February 2011, Prince William and his fiancée, Kate Middleton, chose another Anglesey RNLI Station, Trearddur Bay, for their first official joint engagement. There, Kate launched a new lifeboat, the “Hereford Endeavour.” At the time, an official palace spokesperson shared that the couple had specifically “asked for their first joint engagement to be in Anglesey.” That choice was again echoed today in their choice of location for their first official Welsh engagement as Prince and Princess of Wales. (You’ll note that the same photographer, Paul Ellis, even photographed both visits!)
For that first 2011 official visit, Kate wore a modest pair of earrings from her collection: Kiki McDonough’s Classic Citrine Pear Drop Earrings.
Not long after, William was accompanied by another royal lady—his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II—for a tour of RAF Valley. The late Queen and Duke of Edinburgh were shown around the base by their grandson in April 2011, just a few weeks before William’s big royal wedding.
Wales is notoriously windy, and the day of the Queen’s visit to RAF Valley was no exception, but she handled it with her usual grace and good humor. One of the brooches that belonged to the late Queen Mother, the Australian Hibiscus Brooch, was pinned to her jacket for the occasion.
William and Kate lived on the island of Anglesey for more than two years, and they’ve returned often in the years since. For her first official outing following the birth of Prince George, Kate joined William for the start of the Ring O’Fire Anglesey Coastal Ultra Marathon in Holyhead in August 2013. She wore another pair of Kiki McDonough earrings, the Grace White Topaz Studs, for the occasion.
In February 2016, William and Kate attended a reception at RAF Valley, where she wore her Mappin & Webb Empress Earrings.
She reached for her Kiki McDonough citrine drops again in May 2019, when she and William met with the Menai Bridge Scouts during a visit to the island’s Newborough Beach.
But back to today’s slate of engagements. Following their visit to the lifeboat station, the Prince and Princess of Wales traveled to Swansea, Wales’s second-largest city, for a visit to St. Thomas Church. The visit was something of a royal do-over. King Charles III, then Prince of Wales, had been scheduled to visit the redeveloped church back in February, but severe weather had forced the cancellation of the engagement. William and Kate added a stop at the church to their own calendar to make up for the missed royal moment.
William and Kate both had plenty of opportunities to chat with the people of Swansea during the visit, including lots of children who had gathered to meet them. During the visit, news was also broken that William is not planning to have the kind of large-scale investiture as Prince of Wales that his father had back in 1969. A royal source told the Mirror, “Right now the Prince and Princess of Wales are focused on deepening the trust and respect of the people of Wales over time.” (As you can imagine, like in all corners of the United Kingdom, there are both people who are thrilled at the idea of having a new Prince of Wales and people who are very much not in favor of William’s elevation to the title.)
Whether there’s a formal investiture eventually or not (and my money’s on the latter), there are plenty of Wales-related jewels that we may see Kate begin wearing in the near future as part of her new role. One of the most recognizable symbols of the Prince of Wales title is the Three Feathers, also known as the Prince of Wales’s Feathers. The trio of white ostrich plumes is part of the title’s heraldic symbol, and the feathers also been incorporated into jewelry worn by the wives of the Princes of Wales over the years. Queen Camilla, for example, famously wore a diamond and pearl Prince of Wales Feathers Brooch for her wedding to King Charles in 2005.
There’s also Queen Alexandra’s Three Feathers Brooch, which was a wedding gift to Princess Alexandra of Denmark (Queen Alexandra) from the Ladies of North Wales when she married the Prince of Wales (King Edward VII) in 1863. The diamond jewel also has an optional emerald cabochon drop, and it comes with a pair of matching emerald cabochon drop earrings. The brooch can also be worn as a pendant on a necklace, which is how Princess Diana preferred to wear the piece during her tenure as Princess of Wales. Above, she wears the jewel as a pendant (without the emerald drop) for a reception during the royal tour of Australia in 1983, paired with the Spencer Tiara and the Qatari Pearl Drop Earrings.
She also sometimes added the emerald pendant to the piece. She wears that version of the brooch/pendant here in October 1991 for a dinner during the royal tour of Canada. She has again paired the piece with the Spencer Tiara, as well as her diamond and emerald earrings and diamond and emerald bracelet, both gifts from Charles. She also sports her diamond and emerald toi et moi ring on her left hand. (We discussed the ring previously here.)
More recently, Queen Alexandra’s brooch/pendant has been worn by Queen Camilla, who has always used it in its brooch setting. Here, she wears the brooch with its emerald pendant for the royal film premiere of The History Boys in London in October 2006. You’ll note that she’s also wearing the brooch’s matching earrings on this occasion.
And here, she wears the brooch with its emerald pendant at Trooping the Colour in June 2015.
Queen Alexandra also received another Welsh-themed wedding gift: a large emerald and diamond brooch with an emerald leek design. (The leek is one of the most important, if not the most important, national symbols of Wales.) The brooch was also a wedding present from the Ladies of North Wales. Like the Three Feathers Brooch, this one also has a cabochon emerald pendant. It was worn in 1969 by the Queen Mother during the investiture of the Prince of Wales in Cardiff.
Queen Camilla has also worn Queen Alexandra’s Emerald Leek Brooch on at least one occasion: a reception at the National Assembly of Wales in Cardiff in March 2006.
The leek is also the symbol of the Welsh Guards, and both Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Camilla have worn separate small diamond leek brooches. The one pictured above is Camilla’s, worn at the opening ceremony of the sixth session of the Senedd in October 2021.
Probably the newest Welsh-related royal jewel in the family’s collection is the Daffodil of Wales Brooch. The sparkling jewel is part of the Diamond Jubilee Quartet, a gift from the late Sultan of Oman to celebrate the late Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The daffodil brooch was worn by Queen Elizabeth II on numerous occasions, and it’s currently on display at Windsor Castle.