There were royal tiaras galore at Buckingham Palace tonight, including two sparkling debuts—one almost a century in the making!
King Charles III and Queen Camilla led the royal party at tonight’s state banquet at Buckingham Palace, held in honor of President Yoon Suk Yeol of South Korea and his wife, Kim Keon-hee.
For the banquet, Queen Camilla wore a red velvet evening gown made by Fiona Clare with the sash and star of the Order of the Garter and the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Family Order. (No sign yet of a King Charles III RFO, sadly.)
She accessorized with diamonds and rubies, including the late Queen’s Burmese Ruby Tiara and the Crown Ruby Necklace from Queen Victoria’s Heirlooms of the Crown collection. She also added ruby and diamond clip earrings from her own jewelry box—the ones previously worn in 2015, I think, with the lower section removed—plus a diamond bracelet.
The Burmese Ruby Tiara is a rare piece that Queen Elizabeth II commissioned herself. She had it made by Garrard in 1973 using a cache of 96 rubies given to her as a coronation present two decades earlier. The diamonds in the tiara were taken from the dismantled Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara, a Cartier jewel that had been one of Elizabeth’s wedding presents in 1947. Above, Queen Elizabeth wears the tiara in 1977, not long after it was completed, during her Silver Jubilee celebrations in New Zealand.
The Crown Ruby Necklace is an older royal heirloom. It was part of a suite of jewels designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria in 1854. Originally set with Albert’s favorite opals, Queen Alexandra later had the gems replaced with rubies. For years, the necklace was worn by the Queen Mother, and the late Queen Elizabeth II also used it a few times late in her reign, including this appearance in Germany in 2015. On that occasion, she paired the necklace, brooch, and earrings from the same suite with the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara.
Queen Elizabeth’s final public appearance in the Burmese Ruby Tiara and the Crown Ruby Necklace took place in June 2019, when she wore the jewels together for the American state banquet at Buckingham Palace.
The biggest surprise of the night, however, came from the Princess of Wales, who is pictured here during the banquet with her prince.
Kate wore an elegant embroidered evening gown from Jenny Packham with the sash and star of the Royal Victorian Order and the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Family Order.
It was that tiara that caught all of us off guard, though—it’s the Strathmore Rose! Worn for the first time in almost 100 years!!
The Strathmore Rose Tiara became a royal jewel in April 1923, when it was given to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon by her father, the Earl of Strathmore, to celebrate her marriage to the Duke of York. Acquired from Catchpole & Williams, the antique nineteenth-century tiara was described as “a diamond bandeau of five roses, with diamond sprays between, forming separate brooches.”
This year marks the centenary of the Duke and Duchess of York’s royal wedding at Westminster Abbey. In December 1936, they became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth when his brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated. Elizabeth became better known as the Queen Mother when their daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, succeeded her father in 1952.
The Queen Mother wore the tiara on occasion when she was Duchess of York. She placed it low across her forehead, in trendy 1920s fashion, and also later wore it atop her head on a second, more traditional tiara frame. But the Strathmore Rose was largely consigned to a place in the vaults when she became Queen Consort. Most recently, the tiara was photographed for Sir Hugh Roberts’s book on royal diamonds, published in 2012 to coincide with Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
Now, the tiara has finally reappeared on a second royal lady, a century after it was gifted to the Queen Mother. Kate has often indicated through jewels and photographs that she’d like to emulate the same kind of supporting royal role as the late Queen Mum, and the use of this tiara is just one more sign that she’s aiming to be like a modern-day version of the beloved QEQM. After all, the Strathmore Rose is the third tiara from the Queen Mother’s collection that Kate has worn, after the Cartier Halo Tiara and the Lotus Flower Tiara.
Kate paired the antique tiara with a newer pair of earrings. These are the Diamond Frame Earrings that were loaned to her by Queen Elizabeth II several years ago.
She’s worn these earrings often for gala occasions, and we even saw her bring them out for Trooping the Colour in June 2017.
The Princess Royal also wore a white embroidered gown and jacket for the banquet, plus her Garter sash and star and her late mother’s Royal Family Order.
She added a married suite of diamond jewels from her collection: her Diamond Festoon Tiara, plus her diamond festoon necklace and the coordinating diamond earrings. She finished off the look with her diamond ribbon and tassel brooch.
The Duchess of Edinburgh was elegant at the banquet in the same lovely gown that she wore for the coronation in May. She added the sash and star of the Royal Victorian Order and Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Family Order to the dress.
She added jewels from her collection of aquamarines for the banquet, wearing the Wessex Aquamarine Necklace Tiara, a necklace with an aquamarine pendant, and an aquamarine ring. She also chose diamond earrings for the occasion.
And here’s the Duchess of Gloucester, who wore a blue evening gown with the sash and star of the Royal Victorian Order and Queen Elizabeth II’s Royal Family Order.
For the banquet, Birgitte wore diamonds and emeralds from the collection of her late mother-in-law, Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester. Her tiara is Princess Alice’s diamond and emerald bandeau, which was a wedding gift to Alice from her new husband, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, in 1935. The gorgeous diamond and emerald festoon necklace belonged to Alice as well, as did the brooch, which has roots in Queen Mary’s jewelry collection.
I’ll be back here later tomorrow with the jewels worn by the Duchess of Gloucester for Wednesday evening’s Guildhall banquet!