On Thursday, Queen Camilla brought out another piece of Queen Elizabeth II’s bejeweled legacy—a sparkling military badge that was incredibly close to the late monarch’s heart.
King Charles III and Queen Camilla were at Buckingham Palace on Thursday for the presentations of new standards and colours to the Royal Navy, the Life Guards of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment, the King’s Company of the Grenadier Guards, and the King’s Colour Squadron of the Royal Air Force.
In December 2022, Queen Camilla became the new colonel of the Grenadier Guards, filling a role left vacant after the Duke of York’s military titles and royal patronages were returned to the Queen earlier the same year. Previous royal colonels of the Grenadier Guards had included the late Queen Elizabeth II (when Princess Elizabeth) and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who held the role from 1975 to 2017.
For Thursday’s presentation of standards and colours, Queen Camilla wore a red dress and hat, plus a black handbag, boots, and gloves.
She also wore several familiar pieces of jewelry, including her new sapphire, ruby, diamond, and pearl drop earrings. (You can see a close-up view of the earrings in our article from this year’s Commonwealth Day service.) Her necklace features two favorite charms: a Kiki McDonough Apollo pendant and a gold pendant engraved with the initials of her five grandchildren.
Queen Camilla also debuted another jewelry piece from the collection of the late Queen Elizabeth II: her Grenadier Guards Badge.
The badge is the royal cypher of the Grenadier Guards, set with diamonds, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, from the reign of King George VI. The center of the badge features the cypher of the King (GR in mirrored script) surrounded by the sapphire and diamond Garter with the motto of the Order of the Garter (Honi soit qui mal y pense, or “Shame on him who thinks evil of it”) and topped by a crown.
Why is Camilla wearing a badge from the reign of her husband’s grandfather? Because that’s the badge that was presented to Princess Elizabeth on April 21, 1942—her sixteenth birthday—for a special regimental parade that was also the young princess’s first royal engagement. She’d been made colonel of the Grenadier Guards by her father in February 1942 after the death of her great-uncle and godfather, the Duke of Connaught. Two years later, on April 21, 1944, she proudly wore the same Grenadier Guards badge for an eighteenth-birthday portrait with her parents, taken at Windsor Castle.
A few weeks later, on May 17, 1944, she wore the badge for a special visit to military parachutists who were practicing for the D-Day landings, which took place that June. (The photographs from this engagement always give me the chills, knowing what was ahead for the young men training that day.)
Indeed, she wore the badge often during the decade she served as the colonel of the Grenadier Guards (1942-1952). When she ascended to the throne, she became colonel-in-chief of the regiment, handing over the job of colonel to others (first Lord Jeffreys, then Sir Allan Adair, and then her husband, the Duke of Edinburgh).
Elizabeth II continued to treasure her connection to the Grenadier Guards throughout her life, and when she attended events related to the regiment, she wore the badge she’d received on her sixteenth birthday. She could have changed the badge to a new one reflecting her own royal cypher (which became part of the regimental badge when she became Queen), but she continued to wear the George VI-era badge for the rest of her life.
And now, that same treasured badge is worn by the next generation. It’s lovely to see the tradition continued, and it’s a fantastic nod to the late monarch by Charles and Camilla to use the 1942 badge instead of opting for a new one.