Last week, the Princess Royal made a quick trip to New York, and stirred up possible rumblings about a jewelry connection to her late mother in the process. Did Princess Anne wear the late Queen’s pearls for a recent reception? We take a closer look today—and dig into Anne’s impressive personal collection of pearls, too.
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On Monday, October 3, Princess Anne made a visit to the headquarters of the English-Speaking Union of the United States in New York and was the guest of honor at a gala at the Cosmopolitan Club afterward. For the black-tie gala, Anne wore pearls and diamonds with her ensemble: pearl and diamond button earrings, a three-stranded pearl necklace, and her Diamond Ribbon and Tassel Brooch. You can see photographs from the gala on the ESU website, as well as an additional gallery in the embedded Instagram post above (click through to photo number 3 to see Anne’s gala jewels).
The diamond and pearl button earrings have been in Anne’s collection for years, as has the ribbon and tassel brooch. Here’s a closer view of a previous outing for the brooch, at the Guildhall banquet during the Spanish state visit in July 2017. (She’s also wearing her diamond festoon tiara and necklace with its matching earrings.) The diamond brooch was a wedding gift to Anne in 1973 from her brother, King Charles III.
It’s the three-stranded pearl necklace worn for the October 3rd gala, though, that has caught the attention of many jewelry lovers. I’ve received numerous messages asking whether the pearls (seen in a good close-up here) might be from the collection of the late Queen. Both necklaces feature three strands of evenly-spaced ivory pearls. Anne’s necklace does bear some resemblance to the one most frequently worn by Queen Elizabeth II on numerous occasions. (Above, she pairs her pearls with her Aquamarine Clip Brooches as she receives an honorary BAFTA in April 2013.)
The necklace shown above is just one of the late Queen’s many three-stranded pearl necklaces, and it’s extremely difficult (if not impossible) to tell them apart with only photographs as evidence. Pearls are often restrung, and they can look quite different from image to image, depending on the posture of the wearer and the clothing with which they’re worn. That makes it really, really difficult to say whether Anne’s pearls from last week’s gala are some of the ones worn by the late Queen, too.
Princess Anne has a whole lot of pearls in her jewelry box, and most of them have been part of her collection for years. She often wears necklaces featuring two strands of pearls, shown on her here (with her Grima earrings and a modern rooster brooch) in 1969 during the British state visit to Austria.
She also wears two strands of pearls (with the Grima earrings) in this photograph, taken in June 1975.
Here, she wears a two-stranded necklace with her diamond and pearl button earrings on Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot in June 2012.
And two strands again here, with diamond and gold floral earrings and her stalactite brooch, for a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2015.
One of Anne’s very favorite necklaces is this one, featuring three strands of cream-colored pearls with a gold, diamond, and sapphire clasp. She wears the necklace with the clasp both in the front and in the back, and often pairs the necklace with other coordinating jewels that look like they may have been made as a matching set. This photograph was taken in May 2008 during a World War II memorial service in France.
Here’s the same necklace, with the clasp in the back, worn for a memorial service for firefighters at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London in September 2003.
And here’s the necklace, once again with the clasp placed in the back, at Royal Ascot in June 2021, paired with the Grima earrings and Anne’s gold, diamond, and pearl floral brooch.
There are numerous other necklaces in her collection, too. Among them is this single strand of pearls, worn with a diamond and aquamarine pendant, often paired with the Aquamarine Pineflower Tiara. Anne wears the necklace and her diamond and pearl button earrings here for a Buckingham Palace garden party in May 2019.
Here’s a necklace of pearls and dark blue beads with gold spacer elements, worn for the Royal London Yacht Club Champagne Party during Cowes Week in August 2018.
Anne also has several pearl choker necklaces in her collection. This one, worn at the BAFTAs in 1979, features a floral clasp and appears to have a matching bracelet.
Here’s the same necklace, worn with diamond and pearl drop earrings for the premiere of A Passage To India in March 1985.
This is the same necklace, too, in a more recent appearance (Royal Ascot 2014) that gives you a much better view of the design and color of the clasp. Anne also wore diamond, sapphire, and pearl earrings and her diamond, ruby, and sapphire bar brooch for the occasion.
Anne’s collection also includes the lovely pearl and diamond lattice choker necklace that belonged to Queen Mary. She pairs it here with her diamond and pearl drop earrings at the Festival of Trees gala in London in December 2001.
She also has this gorgeous pearl choker with an elaborate diamond, sapphire, and gold clasp. The necklace originally belonged to Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia and came into the British royal family via Queen Mary. Anne wears the necklace here in 2000 for a party at Windsor Castle celebrating her 50th birthday. She also wore her pearl and diamond button earrings and her sapphire cluster brooch for the event.
Anne’s collection does include another three-stranded pearl necklace, but it’s a bit longer than the one she wore for the gala in New York last week. Here, she wears the longer necklace (with her Grima earrings and her rooster brooch) for Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot in June 2010.
She wears the longer necklace for an evening occasion—the British Olympic Association’s Gold Ball at the Guildhall in October 2005—here, paired with diamond earrings and her gold, diamond, and pearl floral brooch.
She wears the necklace with the same brooch and the Grima earrings in this photograph, taken during the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (now Prince and Princess of Wales) in April 2011.
Here, she wears the necklace with her diamond and pearl button earrings for the Festival of Remembrance in November 2017.
And here, she pairs the necklace with her diamond and pearl drop earrings, plus a sparkling wreath-style brooch, for the Team GB Ball in London in 2016.
So, ultimately: do I think that Princess Anne wore one of the late Queen’s pearl necklaces for the gala in New York on October 3? I’ll give the question a hearty maybe as an answer. I wouldn’t be comfortable making any kind of firm statement on the piece without palace confirmation at this point—the kind we got regarding the pearls recently worn by the Princess of Wales. But I certainly do hope we’ll see some more of Queen Elizabeth II’s pearls gleaming on members of her family in the coming months and years.