As Queen Elizabeth II is laid to rest today, I thought it was an appropriate moment to reflect on some of the last sparkling jewels that she wore during her remarkable life and reign. I’ve chosen some of the most iconic final jewelry moments from the late monarch. (If I’ve missed any you enjoyed, or if I’ve made any errors in my calculations, drop a note in the comments!)
We’ll begin with one of the Queen’s most important constitutional duties: opening parliament. For most of her reign, she wore the Imperial State Crown as she delivered her speech from the throne during the State Opening of Parliament in London. She wore the crown for the event for the last time on May 18, 2016. She also wore Queen Victoria’s Pearl Drop Earrings and Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace on that occasion.
For several years, she wore the George IV Diamond Diadem as a substitute for the larger crown during the ceremony. She wore the dazzling diamond and pearl diadem for the last time in public at the State Opening of Parliament in London on October 14, 2019. Her additional jewels on that occasion included the Coronation Necklace and Queen Mary’s Diamond Cluster Earrings.
The Queen attended the State Opening of Parliament in London for the final time on May 11, 2021. The ceremony, scaled back because of the pandemic, did not involve crowns or gala jewels. Instead, the Queen wore her signature pearls with her diamond and aquamarine clips. The brooches were her 18th birthday gift from her father, King George VI.
The Queen also opened two other parliaments for the final time in 2021. She was in Edinburgh on October 2, 2021, where she made her final appearance in Scotland’s parliament. She wore Queen Mary’s Diamond Thistle Brooch with her pearls for the occasion.
And in Cardiff on October 14, 2021, she made her final appearance at the opening of the Senedd, the Welsh Parliament. Appropriately, she chose the Daffodil of Wales Brooch for the moment.
The Queen’s role as Head of the Commonwealth of Nations was one of her most treasured and respected positions. She made her final appearance at the annual Commonwealth Day service at Westminster Abbey in London on March 9, 2020, wearing the Jardine Star Brooch.
She attended the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting for the final time when it was held in London in 2018. For her last CHOGM Dinner, held at Buckingham Palace on April 19, 2018, she wore dazzling jewels: the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, the Greville Ruby Necklace, and Queen Mary’s Ruby Cluster Earrings.
She also wore rubies for her final state banquet at Buckingham Palace, held in honor of the President of the United States on June 3, 2019. For that occasion, she donned the Burmese Ruby Tiara with the Crown Ruby Necklace and Earrings.
I know many of us, including me, looked forward very much to the jewels worn by the Queen during “Royal June” every year. For her final appearance at Trooping the Colour in London on June 2, 2022, she wore the Guards Brooch, which she traditionally wore each year for the event.
Her final appearance in her Garter robes for the Order of the Garter Service at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor came on June 17, 2019. She chose Queen Mary’s Diamond Cluster Earrings for that occasion.
However, we did see a glimpse of her on Garter Day on June 13, 2022. An official photograph of the Queen in gala jewels—pearls with one of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Bow Brooches—was released to coincide with the investiture of the then-Duchess of Cornwall as a member of the order.
At the end of June and beginning of July, the Queen always moved to her royal residence in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Holyrood Week kicked off annually with the Ceremony of the Keys, which the Queen attended for the final time on June 27, 2022. With her pearls, she wore the badges of the Royal Regiment of Scotland and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.
Each November, the Queen was a fixture in London for the celebrations of Remembrance Sunday. She appeared on a nearby balcony during the ceremony for the final time on November 8, 2020, wearing the Dorset Bow Brooch with her poppies.
A few days earlier, on November 4, 2020, she had also marked the centenary of the burial of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey, wearing the Jardine Star Brooch.
The Queen’s final appearance during a service at Westminster Abbey, where she was married in 1947 and crowned in 1953, came on March 29, 2022, when she attended a service of thanksgiving for the life of her late husband, the Duke of Edinburgh. She wore one of the personal gifts he had given to her during their marriage, the Grima Ruby Brooch.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s memory was also close to her mind during her final Christmas Broadcast, which was recorded on December 23, 2021, and aired two days later. She wore the Sapphire Chrysanthemum Brooch, which she wore on their 1947 honeymoon, for the speech.
The Queen’s long life was full of significant moments celebrated on the balcony of Buckingham Palace, from jubilees, weddings, and birthdays to the end of World War II. Her final bejeweled balcony appearance took place on June 5, 2022, when she joined the three heirs to the throne—Charles, William, and George—with their families at the conclusion of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations. She wore one of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Bow Brooches with her pearls for the iconic moment.
In such a long, bejeweled life, there are so many “lasts”: the last birthday, the last anniversary, the last celebration. And there are last jewels, too. The final tiara that we saw the Queen wear in public was the Vladimir Tiara, in its Cambridge Emerald setting. She wore the tiara (with her mother’s Cartier bracelets, the Greville Emerald Earrings, and a gorgeous emerald necklace that also has possible Greville provenance) for the Diplomatic Reception at Buckingham Palace on December 11, 2019.
If my records are correct, the last brooch that we saw the Queen wear in public was a poignant one: the Aquamarine Art Deco Brooch from the collection of the late Queen Mother. She wore the brooch for a surprise outing, the opening of a new Thames Hospice building in Berkshire, on July 15, 2022.
And, of course, her final public appearance was her audience with her 15th and final Prime Minister, Liz Truss, at Balmoral Castle on September 6, 2022. For this last bejeweled moment, just two days before her death, the Queen very appropriately wore her favorite signature pearl and diamond earrings and three-stranded pearl necklace. She was herself until the very end.
As I was finishing up this article, the Queen made one more bejeweled appearance for all of us. Buckingham Palace released an unseen portrait of Her Majesty, taken in May at Windsor Castle, on the eve of Monday’s state funeral. In the image, she wears those treasured aquamarine clips, an 18th birthday gift from her beloved father. A gorgeous final portrait of an incredible bejeweled Queen.
A scheduling note: I’ll have coverage of the jewels worn for the Queen’s state funeral on the website later today. This week, I’ll be featuring articles on some of the gorgeous and meaningful mourning jewels worn by members of the family, including Queen Camilla and the Princess of Wales. And then we’ll do a few “best of” posts, so that I can take a nap or two!
Thank you all so much for the kind comments throughout our coverage during the past week and a half. I was so glad to be able to make all of you proud!