The Windsors gathered in London on Tuesday morning for the start of a glittering state visit—the first held in more than three years.
President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa arrived at Stansted Airport on Monday ahead of his two-day state visit to Britain, the first made by a South African head of state in more than a decade. There’s a long (and complicated) diplomatic history between the two nations. We’ve recently covered jewels worn by the late Queen Elizabeth II during state visits by three of President Ramaphosa’s predecessors: Nelson Mandela in 1996, Thabo Mbeki in 2001, and Jacob Zuma in 2010.
Ahead of Tuesday’s welcome ceremonies, the Prince and Princess of Wales arrived to greet President Ramaphosa at the Corinthia Hotel in London.
William and Catherine posed for a formal portrait with President Ramaphosa before departing from the hotel and traveling with him to Horse Guards Parade.
There, President Ramaphosa was greeted by the King and the Queen Consort.
King Charles and President Ramaphosa inspected a guard of honor formed by Number 7 Company Coldstream Guards during the formal welcome ceremony.
And then, the royals and the presidential party rode in a grand carriage procession down the Mall to Buckingham Palace.
King Charles and Queen Camilla rode with President Ramaphosa in the Irish State Coach during the procession.
There were more photographs on arrival at Buckingham Palace, before the party headed inside to view a selection of items from the Royal Collection in the Picture Gallery.
One of the items on display was a photograph from the 1996 visit made by President Mandela. (We recently covered the jewels that Queen Elizabeth II wore for the banquet over here!)
Both of the royal ladies chose tailored coats for the November weather during the welcome ceremony.
Queen Camilla wore a coat in a vibrant shade of blue with a matching hat and black gloves and boots.
She wore her favorite diamond and pearl drop earrings, her pearl choker necklace with the round diamond clasp, and a diamond brooch with a milky blue gemstone centerpiece. I’d guess that the cabochon gem is probably a moonstone.
She’s worn the brooch on at least one previous occasion: King George Diamond Day at Ascot Racecourse in July 2022, just a few days after her 75th birthday.
Kate wore a lovely plum ensemble with a coordinating hat, clutch bag, and shoes.
She accessorized with jewelry with major royal provenance: the Collingwood Pearl Drop Earrings, which belonged to the late Diana, Princess of Wales, and Queen Alexandra’s Three Feathers Brooch with its emerald pendant drop. The brooch has been worn by Princesses of Wales since the 1860s.
Alexandra (who was then Princess of Wales herself) received the brooch and its coordinating emerald drop earrings as a wedding gift from a committee of women, the Ladies of North Wales, in 1863. The Three Feathers (or Prince of Wales’s Feathers), a trio of white ostrich plumes, is one of the most important symbols of the Prince of Wales title, and the brooch features the feathers set in a diamond frame. This particular piece can be worn with or without the emerald drop, and it can be used either as a brooch or a pendant. Diana, Princess of Wales liked to wear it as a pendant on a necklace (both with and without the emerald drop). She wears it with the emerald here in Canada in October 1991.
More recently, Queen Camilla has been the wearer of the jewel. She’s always worn it as a brooch, and always with the emerald drop. She wears it here with the matching emerald earrings for the royal film premiere of The History Boys in London in October 2006. As Kate is now the wife of the Prince of Wales, the heirloom brooch has been passed along to her for her use.
We’ll have all the jewelry details from tonight’s state banquet later this evening!