For tonight’s state banquet in Berlin, Queen Camilla mixed royal heirlooms—the familiar and the new-to-her—to provide us with plenty of royal diamond sparkle.
The King and the Queen Consort arrived at Schloss Bellevue for this evening’s state banquet, hosted by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife, Elke Buedenbender.
For the dinner, Queen Camilla wore a black evening gown with leafy silver embroidery from one of her go-to designers, Bruce Oldfield. She pinned Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Family Order to the shoulder of her gown, and a pair of gleaming order stars at her waist: the star of the Order of the Garter and the star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany. Both she and King Charles received the German order during this visit. For some reason, Camilla did not wear the order’s red sash with her gown.
As far as jewels go, there was one word to describe her overall look: DIAMONDS. She reached for a tiara that has been one of her favorite royal jewels for the past fifteen years, the Greville Tiara.
The tiara, which has an eye-catching geometric, honeycomb-style design, was made in 1921 by Lucien Hirtz of Boucheron in Paris. Later alterations (the addition of several additional diamonds along the top row of the tiara) were completed by Cartier.
The tiara’s original owner was Dame Margaret Greville, a socialite who was also a close friend of King Edward VII, King George VI, and Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. When she died in 1942, Mrs. Greville bequeathed a trunkful of jewels to the Queen Mother, who wore them throughout her long life.
Here’s Queen Elizabeth wearing the original version of the tiara (plus another major Greville jewel, the Diamond Festoon Necklace) during the 1950 state visit from Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands.
Elizabeth was the one who oversaw the Cartier alterations to the piece. Here, she wears the new setting of the tiara in November 1964, pairing it with the Greville Peardrop Earrings and Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace.
She wore the tiara right until the end of her very long life. Here, she wears the jewel with the Festoon Necklace (in a smaller setting) and the Peardrop Earrings for the German state banquet at Windsor Castle in 1998.
When the Queen Mother died in 2002, the tiara was inherited by Queen Elizabeth II. She handed it to her new daughter-in-law, Camilla, after her marriage to Charles in 2005. Camilla, then the Duchess of Cornwall, debuted the tiara at a state banquet at Buckingham Palace during the Brazilian state visit in March 2006.
The tiara has been Camilla’s most-worn royal jewel in the years that followed. She has worn it for banquets, dinners, and receptions, including appearances at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting Dinner. She has frequently paired the tiara with pieces from her pear-shaped diamond demi-parure.
She also frequently wore it for the State Opening of Parliament during the late Queen’s reign. Here, she wears it with one of her many pearl choker necklaces.
For tonight’s state dinner in Germany, Queen Camilla paired the tiara with another jewel from the late Queen’s collection: the City of London Fringe Necklace.
As the name suggests, the necklace was a wedding gift to Princess Elizabeth in November 1947 from “prominent City of London interests.” It was displayed alongside her other sparkling wedding presents at St. James’s Palace in London during the wedding celebrations. The necklace is a classic diamond fringe, set in gold and silver, but unlike some jewels of this design, it cannot be worn as a tiara. Rather than having a rigid design that allows it to be set on a frame, the necklace is strung on silk thread.
Queen Elizabeth II wore the necklace on various occasions over the next 75 years. Here, in March 1950, she wears it for a gala performance at Covent Garden during a state visit from French President Auriol. She’s also wearing several other wedding presents, including the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, the Diplomatic Corps Floral Earrings, the Dorset Bow Brooch, and the Edinburgh Wedding Bracelet.
And I particularly like this combination of jewels: the necklace with Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara and the New Zealand Silver Fern Brooch, worn in 2011 for an official Diamond Jubilee portrait commissioned by the Governor-General of New Zealand. The necklace appears to have been lengthened for Queen Camilla. (Or, perhaps restored to its original length, as Queen Elizabeth II had nearly all of her necklaces shortened.)
Camilla also wore an interesting pair of diamond fringe earrings with the necklace and tiara. (Remember that Camilla doesn’t have pierced ears, so we probably won’t be seeing her wear many of the late Queen’s earrings.)