When most people write about the grand British royal wedding of July 1981, the focus is naturally on Lady Diana’s sparkling tiara. But what about all of the other royal jewels worn at St. Paul’s for the ceremony? I’ve got a deep dive for you today into the other royal sparkle present for the Wales wedding, held 42 years ago today.
Okay, before we start, super quickly: the bride wore the Spencer Tiara and a pair of diamond earrings borrowed from her mother for the big wedding ceremony. I’ve written extensively about the Spencer Tiara, showcasing close-up images of the jewel, documenting its family history as a wedding tiara, and discussing its future inheritance.
St. Paul’s was packed on July 29, 1981, with lots of members of the British royal family in attendance, as well as foreign royals from around the world. Here, you’ll spot the most senior British royals standing near the bride and groom at the start of the ceremony.
Queen Elizabeth II reached for some of her grandest daytime jewels for the royal wedding of her heir, including a spectacular brooch—the Williamson Pink Diamond Brooch—with ties to her own wedding day. She also wore the Hanoverian Pearls, an incredible antique double strand that’s said to include pearls that belonged to Mary, Queen of Scots.
With her bright yellow and orange floral ensemble, Princess Anne wore pearl drop earrings and a four-row pearl choker necklace. Beside her, Princess Margaret sparkles in one of her diamond floral brooches. (This particular floral spray is, I believe, one that was previously worn by the Queen Mother.)
Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester wore her diamond and sapphire ribbon brooches with pearls for the wedding. The brooches are now worn by her daughter-in-law, Birgitte, the present Duchess of Gloucester, who is walking behind her in this photograph. Birgitte wore her five-stranded pearl choker necklace with the elaborate diamond spacer elements for the ceremony.
The Duchess of Kent, riding here in a carriage with her daughter, Lady Helen, wore pearls for the royal wedding.
Her sister-in-law, Princess Alexandra, sparkled in a gorgeous diamond floral brooch.
And another sister-in-law, Princess Michael of Kent, wore the dazzling sapphire, emerald, and diamond flower brooch that belonged to Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent. We recently saw her wear the same brooch at King Charles’s coronation.
Because this was the wedding of an heir to the throne, there were numerous members of foreign royal families in attendance as well. Here, you’ll spot King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, Queen Margrethe II and Prince Henrik of Denmark, King Olav V of Norway with Crown Prince Harald and Crown Princess Sonja, and King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola of the Belgians.
Even more members of reigning European royal families are visible here. You’ll spot Grand Duke Jean and Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte of Luxembourg, Queen Beatrix and Prince Claus of the Netherlands. Prince Franz Joseph II and Princess Gina of Liechtenstein, and Princess Grace of Monaco with Hereditary Prince Albert.
Here’s another view of several of the royals processing to their seats in the cathedral ahead of the wedding. Queen Margrethe, walking near the left side of the photo, appears to be wearing the Connaught Sapphire Brooch—a fitting nod to her British-born grandmother, Princess Margaret of Connaught.
Good close-up views of the jewels worn for this wedding are tough to come by, but there were definitely some special pieces worn. Queen Silvia of Sweden pinned one of her diamond floral brooches to her green jacket for the ceremony, but it’s tough to see precisely which one.
Belgium’s Queen Fabiola wore pearls, including her lovely diamond and pearl drop earrings.
You’ll spot several more royal ladies on this side of the photograph. Queen Beatrix appears to be wearing a brooch pinned to her blue dress, but it’s exceptionally difficult to tell which one it might be!
This excellent close-up of Grand Duchess Josephine-Charlotte of Luxembourg shows that she wore several pieces of important diamond and sapphire jewelry. These included the family’s sapphire and diamond drop earrings, plus the sapphire and diamond necklace without its pendant drops. (You can see both here on Hereditary Grand Duchess Stephanie.) She also has a diamond crescent brooch pinned at her shoulder.
And here’s a good look at the pearls worn by Princess Grace. There’s also a brooch sparkling over near her left shoulder.
There were even more foreign royals dotted among the enormous congregation as well. Here, if you look closely in the third row, you’ll spot the then-Crown Princess Michiko of Japan (wearing, naturally, pearls) and Princess Sarvath of Jordan.