Our flashback Sparkling Spotlight series on the jewels of Queen Elizabeth II continues today with an ensemble worn on October 25, 1984—including a fabulous necklace with a mysterious provenance.
On Thursday, October 25, 1984, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh attended a dinner hosted by President François Mitterrand of France at the French embassy in London. The dinner took place on the third day of President Mitterrand’s state visit to the United Kingdom.
For the embassy dinner, which was a white-tie affair, the Queen wore a gleaming gold evening gown with a shimmering lace overlay. Her decorations included the Order of the Legion of Honour and the Royal Family Orders of her father and her grandfather.
She added even more sparkle to the ensemble with diamonds and emeralds from her jewelry collection. The pieces chosen included three jewels that belonged to Queen Mary: the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, the Lover’s Knot Brooch, and a pair of diamond and emerald frame earrings made by redesigning one of Mary’s brooches.
The spotlight piece of the ensemble, however, was undoubtedly the necklace. This is the Godman Necklace, a nineteenth-century diamond and emerald jewel. In 1965, it was gifted to the Queen by a pair of sisters, Eva and Catherine Godman, who had inherited the necklace from their father, Frederick Godman. The elder Godman was a British scientist and a trustee of the British Museum.
The Godmans believed that the necklace, bought by Frederick during a trip to Bavaria in the 1890s, was connected to Empress Joséphine of France, possibly through her Leuchtenberg descendants. The palace reportedly did some digging on the provenance of the piece and failed to discover any concrete links to Joséphine or the Leuchtenbergs, but—in a rare move—the Queen decided to accept the necklace anyway. Over the years, she primarily wore the piece at events related to France, a nod to its likely French origins. In this photograph, she wears it for a state banquet at Windsor Castle during President Chirac’s state visit to the United Kingdom in November 2004.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh weren’t the only members of the royal family to attend that embassy dinner with the Mitterrands back in 1984. You’ll also spot the Prince of Wales (now King Charles III) and the Duke of Kent in this group photograph, as well as the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester (who wears Queen Mary’s Honeysuckle Tiara in its pink gemstone setting) and Sir Angus Ogilvy and Princess Alexandra (who wears the Ogilvy Tiara).