20 September 2017

Royal Event of the Day: Dutch Royals at Prinsjesdag 2017

Programming Note: The blog returns on Monday. 

It's time for Prinsjesdag! The Dutch monarch addresses the government every September, reading a speech from the throne detailing plans for the coming session. Queen Máxima, Prince Constantijn, and Princess Laurentien all accompany King Willem-Alexander for the event. It's a special occasion with a special dress code - a throwback of sorts, with long dresses, orders, and hats, which was a much more common formal day dress code for royal events years ago - and that usually adds up to Máxima maxing out with a specially coordinated outfit. It's often one of her sartorial highlights of the year. And this year {drumroll please}...

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...{sad clatter of drumsticks dropped half-heartedly on the floor} This year was, you know, fine. Listen, it's perfectly nice! A workhorse solution to this dress code, basically.

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It's also just a longer, slate blue/gray version of a Natan dress that Queen Máxima and her Natan twin, Queen Mathilde, already own in pink. Which is a bit of an anticlimactic choice for a special event, you know what I mean? Disappointed by my own overly high expectations, AGAIN. I think there are better ways to do subdued, if that's what she was after (and, as always, there are many reasons she may have been after that).

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The use of aquamarine gems from Queen Juliana threw a bit of color interest into the ensemble. And adding a diamond necklace from the royal vaults is a little bit more jewel power than Máxima usually gives us for this occasion; it is during the day, after all, hence why there are no tiaras.

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Maybe she was hedging her bets a bit with bonus diamonds, just in case her dress didn't bowl us over. That's a solution I can get behind.

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Even Princess Laurentien feels a little subdued this year, no? Her dress is from Hardies, jacquard with a mermaid scale feel. The two Dutch ladies make a bit of a twin act, in these two belted dresses with their brimless hats.

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But of course, Laurentien's hat is a tilted not-hat hat, because there has to be a little Laurentien touch in there somewhere, right?

19 September 2017

Royal Flashback of the Day: Princess Sofia's Wedding Gown

Mattias Edwall / Kungahuset.se
Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia recently becoming parents for the second time is more than enough excuse to take a little trip down memory lane back to their wedding, right? Specifically, to Sofia's wedding gown, because we have another installment of reader pictures from the Swedish royal wedding gown exhibition at the Royal Palace several months ago. Special thanks once again to Janet and Viola for sharing their views! (I'm adding links to these detailed exhibition posts to my original post on the display, by the way.)

Courtesy of Janet
Princess Sofia's 2015 wedding dress came from Swedish designer Ida Sjöstedt. Sjöstedt's designs have become regulars on the royal scene since then, worn by Sofia as well as Princess Madeleine and Crown Princess Victoria.

Courtesy of Viola
The dress has a strapless base dress made of silk crepe with a train, and a long-sleeved Italian silk organza overlay with applied lace.

Courtesy of Janet
I didn't find this dress all that memorable, as royal wedding gowns go, at the time. But the great thing about seeing it on its own is that you get to see all kinds of detail you missed during the wedding broadcast - and I can see a lot of soft detail here that definitely didn't stand out at the time.

Courtesy of Viola
The other great thing is that we get a chance to focus on some of the accessories, because a big, long veil is a thing of beauty. Sofia's is made of tulle with hand-embroidered cotton lace.

Courtesy of Janet
Wedding shoes! Sofia's are from Charlotte Olympia, and while the heart-shaped sole is a brand signature and not a wedding special, that detail is a sweet fit to the occasion.

Courtesy of Viola
These simple dresses were worn by the young bridesmaids, which included Princess Estelle.

Courtesy of Janet
The exhibition also displayed a part of the wedding day that was only seen in paparazzi-style pictures from outside the palace: Princess Sofia changed into a simpler, one-shoulder lace gown for the party portion of the wedding reception.

Courtesy of Viola
And the backs! The lace overlay on the wedding dress looks particularly fine here, and it's interesting that the lace appears to be an apron-style front on the reception dress.

You knew I wouldn't leave you without the full kit to encourage your Tuesday procrastination, right? You need all the evidence if you're going to reevaluate your opinion of Sofia's dress, after all.

(So have you? Reevaluated your opinion, that is. Does the dress on display change your mind?)

18 September 2017

Monday Tidbits for September 18: Here Comes the Bride, and More

This weekend offered us a rare chance to see a special German tiara in action, so let's get right to it:

--The religious wedding of Princess Viktoria Luise of Prussia and Hereditary Prince Ferdinand of Leiningen was held this weekend in Bavaria. It was a very royal affair, at least where ancestry is concerned, because both the bride and groom are descendants of Queen Victoria. And the bride topped her classic white lace-adorned wedding gown with a truly royal accessory: the Prussian Meander Tiara.
Photo: Castleholic
The diamond tiara has a history of wedding usage; it was worn by Viktoria Luise's grandmother, Grand Duchess Kira, at her wedding to Prince Louis Ferdinand in 1938 and has been a part of other family weddings since. We last saw it in use on Princess Sophie, wife of the current Prince of Prussia. I like this tiara more every time I see it - I just wish that was more than once in a blue moon. Stay tuned over at the Castleholic blog for firsthand coverage of the wedding and the guests, and thanks to Sydney for sharing these pics! [Castleholic]
Photo: Castleholic
Photo: Castleholic

--I think the Duchess of Cornwall looks splendid in navy and white outfits with big hats, and fortunately she opts for that combo regularly. Twice recently, in fact: for a Battle of Britain anniversary service this weekend and for the naming of an aircraft carrier earlier in the month. [Express, Telegraph]
Clarence House

--The Swedish royal house gave us this lovely new official picture of Prince Daniel in honor of his 44th birthday on Friday. Daniel shares his birthday with Queen Letizia and Prince Harry. He also shares the day with King Carl Gustaf, who became King of Sweden on the very day Daniel was born. (I love that little royal factoid.)
Erika Gerdemark/Kungahuset.se

--And finally, Queen Máxima followed her recent jumpsuit triumph with...this, I guess. Okay. [Zimbio]

Coming up this week: Our annual Prinsjesdag coverage, and more...

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

15 September 2017

Royal Outfits of the Day: Queen Máxima's A+ Day

I wasn't expecting it to be this much of a Máxima week, but if this is how she's warming up for Prinsjesdag next week...I am here for it. She had a two outfit day yesterday and it was a good two outfit day, so good that she might have even found the first jumpsuit I've ever been delighted to see on the royal scene. I KNOW.

Queen Máxima attended the opening of the new season of the Concertgebouw orchestra in Amsterdam on Thursday evening.
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See what I mean?! It's sleek and chic and a perfect fit for the occasion. Roland Mouret is not one of her regular labels, but after this, I'm ready for more.
Roland Mouret jumpsuit. Another model from this collection has appeared on the red carpet several times.

Máxima was busy during the day yesterday too:
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Opening the  Asian Library of the University Leiden.
And Carolina Herrera racks up another royal win and further solidifies her spot as one of my favorite royal-ready designers right now. This isn't the first time we've seen her wear Herrera; you may recall this splendid blue print gown. Is it too much to hope that her summer included a particularly well-advised shopping spree, from which more treasures await??

14 September 2017

Tiara Thursday: The Russian Nuptial Tiara

A German noble wedding linked in Tidbits over the summer featured a bride wearing a rather spectacular diamond tiara with a row of dangling emeralds. Many of you made the connection between the shape of that tiara and another wedding tiara with a similar tall, triangular kokoshnik shape - this one with some major imperial history behind it:

The Russian Nuptial Tiara
The Russian Nuptial Tiara was made around 1800 or earlier by St. Petersburg jeweler Jacob David Duval for Maria Feodorovna (Duchess Sophie Dorothea of Württemberg, 1759-1828), the wife of Tsar Paul I, according to the Diamond Fund; other sources state it was made for Elizabeth Alexeievna (Princess Louise of Baden, 1779-1826), the wife of Tsar Alexander I. The date alone is enough to make this tiara a rare item; not too many tiaras can claim a creation date that long ago and even fewer can claim to have kept their original design and craftsmanship through the following centuries.

Elizabeth Alexeievna
The date of creation isn't the only thing that makes this tiara a valuable and rare jewel. The tall kokoshnik design is centered around a spectacular natural pink diamond, a 13.335 carat stone from the treasury of Paul I. This stone alone would be worth millions; in 2017, the Artemis Pink diamond earring featuring a 16 carat pink diamond sold for more than $15.3 million. (Also in 2017, the 59.6 carat Pink Star diamond sold for $71.2 million, setting a new record price.) The rectangular pink stone at the center of the Russian Nuptial Tiara was at one point backed with foil to enhance the pink color. This backing was later removed, accounting for the difference in color appearance in various photographs of the diadem.

Diamond Fund
And then there are the white diamonds. Including stones of the finest quality from Brazil and India weighing in at more than a reported 1,000 carats in total, these gems are exceptional in their own right. They form the scrolled base that surrounds the pink diamond, as well as the pointed top of the tiara. From the underside of the tiara's top section hang a multitude of briolette-cut diamonds, dangling so that they can tremble and sparkle with every movement the wearer made. The tiara is topped by a row of large upright pear-shaped diamonds. These design characteristics - a middle row of pendant stones and a top of upright pear-shaped diamonds - were also used in Elizabeth Alexeievna's Diamond Kokoshnik tiara.

Two imperial brides in the tiara and accompanying wedding regalia: Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna (left) in 1902, and Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna (right) in 1908
As its name suggests, the Russian Nuptial Tiara became a jewel worn by generations of imperial brides. While the use of a wedding tiara is not unique among royal families, none take it quite so far as the Russian family did. Their brides donned an entire set of spectacular wedding regalia.

Other wedding jewels worn by Russian imperial brides: the wedding crown, necklace, clasp, and earrings
Not only was there a tiara to use, there was also a wedding crown to set behind the tiara, a pair of diamond cherry earrings dating from Catherine I, a diamond collet necklace with diamond pendants weighing in at 475 carats, a mantle (robe) to wear, and an Imperial Clasp - basically a brooch the size of your chest - to fasten the mantle. (We looked at the imperial wedding jewels in depth here.) There are tales of brides struggling to carry the weight of it all. Literally and, perhaps, figuratively.

Princess Alix of Hesse and by Rhine (Alexandra Feodorovna, 1872-1918) marries Nicholas II in 1894
So often, the stories of these imperial jewels end in the same way: sold after the revolution, or seemingly vanished into thin air never to be seen again, or both. The Imperial Bridal Crown was sold but preserved, bought by Marjorie Merriweather Post and now a part of her collection at the Hillwood Museum. The imperial wedding necklace was never seen again. The Russian Nuptial Tiara was displayed on the table of treasures confiscated by the Bolsheviks, many of which ended up on the auction block or were destined to be dismantled and sold stone by stone, but the pink diamond tiara came to a different fate.

Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mavrikievna (Princess Elisabeth of Saxe-Altenburg, 1865-1927), at her 1884 weddding to Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich
Instead of selling or dismantling this diadem, the new Russian government kept it. They also kept a selection of other pieces reflecting the extravagant splendor of their imperial history. These jewels are still with the Russian government and are today held in the Diamond Fund museum at the Kremlin in Moscow.

The Russian Nuptial Tiara displayed with other confiscated imperial jewels, most sold or disappeared since
The Russian Nuptial Tiara is an extravagant jewel, to say the very least, and a true product of the court of excess from which it came. It remains, however, a piece of art with true historical significance and a marvel of fine gemstones - and, though I'm usually in favor of seeing things worn, I think this is a splendid fit for its museum spot.

A Russian favorite for you, or no?

13 September 2017

Royal Event of the Day: Swedish Royals at the Opening of Parliament

The Swedes are first up in the wave of parliament openings that will carry the collective royal calendar through October, attending the opening of parliament and its associated events yesterday. The ladies follow a black and white dress code for this event (which is kind of a nod to the days when extravagant ermine-trimmed court dress was worn, but which is not something that they've always followed). Real talk, it can get pretty boring, all this black and white, year after year. But I think they did pretty good this year, whaddya say?

A post shared by @europeroyal on
The group attends the day events: Queen Silvia, King Carl Gustaf, Crown Princess Victoria, Prince Daniel, Prince Carl Philip, Princess Madeleine.
Now, I have some questions about Queen Silvia's hat, namely, is this Blossom, all grown up? Princess Madeleine's vibe, however, is speaking right to me. I'm giving it the Jackie O seal of approval.

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Likewise, Crown Princess Victoria gets a satisfied nod from my direction. This is how to do a black and white theme with interest, methinks: using a black and white item as a centerpiece instead of just sticking something white on a black outfit like an afterthought. Love.

The family also attended an evening concert for the occasion.
Crown Princess Victoria repeated this vibrant mural of a dress that she wore when Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary came to visit. Apparently the other family members were also present, but who has time for anyone else when we're busy deciphering all the stuff on Victoria's frock?

12 September 2017

Royal Outfits of the Day: The Adventures of Mathilde and Máxima

Queens M&M here, reporting for their sartorial duty, which is obviously to give us some STUFF to talk about:

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 Queen Mathilde and King Philippe attended the reopening of the La Monnaie/De Munt Opera House last week.
Sweet Queen Mathilde. She lulls you into a soothingly oblivious state with her frequent calm and unobjectionable outfits. Yes, yes, more soft pink, that's fine. Carry on. And then, when your guard is down, she blinds you (literally) with a pair of Gold! Velvet! Trousers!
Belgian Monarchy
Clearly we must remain in a state of constant vigilance with this one. On the plus side, now we know what happened to all those sofas tossed when the 70s died.

With her Benelux BFF Máxima, on the other hand, we've already learned our lesson in vigilance. You never know what she'll turn up in. Her bathrobe and shower shoes, even.
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Queen Máxima attended the LOEY Awards 2017 yesterday.
Honestly, though, the way people were talking about this outfit, I expected...more. More Máx-ness. I think it's pretty tame. Sometimes a girl just needs a day in flats, eh? I wouldn't want to see this with a pair of her matching pumps, I know that.
Zeus + Dione maxi dress of textured silk with velvet details (h/t ModeKoninginMaxima)

11 September 2017

Monday Tidbits for September 11: More Babies, More Back to School

As Mother Nature continues to dish out her latest beat down - and I hope, wherever you are, you are safe and dry - let's see what else is going on:

--Let's make that safe and dry and cozily wrapped in the finest knitwear, like snug little Prince Gabriel. The first official picture of Prince Carl Philip and Princess Sofia's newborn son was released last week, taken by dad.
Prince Carl Philip/Kungahuset.se

--The Danish royal court announced last week that Prince Henrik has been diagnosed with dementia. The press release stated that the diagnosis came after a long investigation and, most recently, tests in late summer, indicating that things were sorted out after Henrik's outbursts earlier this summer about his place of burial and his desire to be made equal in status to his wife, Queen Margrethe. This news certainly casts those outbursts in a new light; although they were more vociferous than usual, his statements were previously judged by many (myself included) only on the information available at the time, which was that these were complaints he had been repeating for decades. [Washington Post]

--Back to our usual fare now: Queen Letizia repeated that crisply swishy Carolina Herrera dress I like so much, yay! [Vanitatis]
House of HM the King

--And finally, just because it's cute:
Chris Jackson/Kensington Palace

Coming up this week: A Mathilde check in, and more...

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

08 September 2017

Royal Dresses of the Day: Máxima and Mary Go Formal

The royals are returning from their summer breaks and they are bringing their evening gowns with them and I am READY.

Queen Máxima attended a benefit dinner for the Princess Máxima Center for children's oncology this week.
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I don't really know about this gown - which, if it had a different neckline, I could easily believe was stolen from Crown Princess Mette-Marit's closet - but finding something to perfectly match this necklace and earring set is impressive. Máxima's worn this unusual set of what looks to be sapphires, diamonds, and moonstones for a few years; its provenance is unknown.
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Did she go searching for just the right dress for the set, or was it a happy coincidence? Or does she have enough in her jewel vault to match any dress? A true chicken or egg question.
Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik attended a dinner celebrating 10 years of the Mary Foundation this week.
Please tell me I'm not the only one getting serious Sabrina vibes here. I mean, BE STILL MY HEART. Only a few pictures from this event were released, so it's hard to get a sense of the bottom of the dress and I am now extremely invested in seeing it again with a nice full length shot. ASAP! (Pretty please?)

07 September 2017

Tiara Thursday: Queen Rania's Tiaras

Sound the tiara alarms, another monarchy-to-monarchy state visit has been announced: King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima will welcome King Abdullah and Queen Rania of Jordan to the Netherlands for a state visit in November! It's never too early to start tiara speculation when a multiple tiara occasion is on the books, right?! Right. Of course, there's not much to speculate about on Rania's side of things, because she's worn her smallest tiara for basically everything recently, but a retrospective of all those she's worn can't hurt anyway. It's an interesting bunch! (As always, full stories are linked in the tiara's name for those we have featured.)

My favorite tiara ever worn by Queen Rania is not actually hers and, alas, is no longer worn by her. She borrowed this diamond tiara from her sister-in-law, Princess Haya, and wore it in the early years of King Abdullah's reign. It's such an interesting piece, no? I wish it was worn more often.

A similarly fascinating tiara, this art piece of emeralds in black gold seems so well suited to a queen that puts her own spin on traditional royal gala gear. (Or for a garden nymph of some sort, either way.) It was a loan from Boucheron for a couple outings.

Queen Rania's Diamond Tiara
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It seemed for a while that this diamond tiara (which looks, at least, like it could be a converted necklace) was a new addition to Queen Rania's vault; but with only a few concentrated appearances several years back, I suppose it too could have been a loan.

The Arabic Scroll Tiara
This is the option Queen Rania chose to wear for the last Dutch state banquet she attended. Made for her, Arabic writing is woven seamlessly into the design. It too only has a couple appearances under its belt.

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The smallest of them all is also the only one that has appeared on any sort of consistent basis for the past several years, though Queen Rania does not have many occasions on which to wear a tiara in the first place. And despite me wishing for bigger pieces, always, I can't ever dispute that this suits her and her modern style.

Which Rania tiara is your favorite?

06 September 2017

Royal Outfits of the Day: A Luxembourg Family Wedding

Luxembourg's grand ducal family packed up their best destination wedding fashion - and a family tiara! - and headed to Spain this weekend for a little family wedding fun. Which of course translates, for us, as a little mid-week wedding splendor, and we are much obliged.

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The lucky bride was Grand Duke Henri's niece, Princess Marie-Gabrielle of Nassau, eldest child of Prince Jean of Luxembourg. She married Antonius Willms at a civil wedding in Luxembourg back in May and brought the party to Marbella, Spain for their religious ceremony and accompanying festivities this weekend. The bride's wedding dress was made by Lorenzo Caprile, a Spanish couturier who designed Infanta Cristina's wedding gown and many other creations for the Spanish royal family.

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The long-sleeved gown is simple from the front and detailed from the back, with a train full of flowers and Swarovski crystal ornamentation. Princess Marie-Gabrielle topped her veil with a tiara borrowed from the grand ducal family. Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde's Tiara hasn't been used as a wedding tiara in the past - probably due to its central sapphire; they tend to stick to their white tiaras for weddings - but has made the rounds in the family and has most recently been something of a favorite with Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie.

The tiara came from Luxembourg with a full royal entourage, including the Grand Duke and Grand Duchess, four of their children plus assorted spouses, and other members of the extended family.

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Grand Duke Henri and Grand Duchess Maria Teresa
Maria Teresa continues to live her best caftan life, and more power to her.

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Prince Félix and Princess Claire
Claire's sparkles make her fancier than some of these other evening gowns and yet she's cooler and slinkier too, so it all balances out.

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Hereditary Grand Duke Guillaume and Hereditary Grand Duchess Stéphanie
I love this color on Stéphanie. I love this color on everybody. Yeah, this is one of those great, can't-go-wrong things. And it provided some welcome contrast, because:

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At the pre-wedding party
She clearly used everything from the Loud Cruisewear section of her closet the night before.

You can check out Luxarazzi for complete wedding and guest details.

05 September 2017

Tuesday Tidbits for September 5: Babies, Brides, Brooches

When it rains royal news, it pours.

--Princess Sofia and Prince Carl Philip welcomed their second child, a brother for Prince Alexander, on August 31. On Monday, the King announced the baby's name and title at a cabinet meeting: HRH Prince Gabriel Carl Walther, Duke of Dalarna. The baby's names include tributes to his father's side (Carl and Walther, the name of Queen Silvia's father), while his duchy includes the area in which his mother grew up.
Going home from the hospital

--The Swedish royal family held their traditional Te Deum to celebrate the birth of a new member on Monday as well, solidly coordinating their florals and pinks for the occasion.

--The Japanese imperial court has officially announced the engagement of Princess Mako of Akishino, a granddaughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, and Kei Komuro. The 25-year-old bride-to-be said of her betrothed, “I was first attracted to his bright smiles that seemed like the sun." Mr. Komuro, a former university classmate who is also 25, said that in response that the princess “has been quietly watching over me like the moon.” They'll marry in 2018, but not before the summer. [Japan Times]
The couple at the press conference announcing their engagement
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--Big breaking news in Britain: Queen Elizabeth wore a rare brooch! Only the second time she's worn it, after waiting decades to pull it out of the stash she got from Queen Mary.

--And I suppose there was other breaking news out of Britain, too. [BBC]

Coming up this week: A Luxembourg wedding brings gowns and a tiara watch, and more...

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

30 August 2017

Programming Note, and a (New) Old Wedding

The blog is taking a brief break, and will return next week.

I leave you with this little piece of refreshed history, which - if you haven't seen it yet - is well worth a look:

Footage from the 1981 wedding of the Prince of Wales and Lady Diana Spencer is viewable for the first time in high quality 4K video, courtesy of the restoration efforts of the AP Archive. It's a British Movietone documentary on the event, complete with such flowery commentary, you'd think it dates from decades earlier.

Despite having seen many clips of this wedding in lower definition - and despite, to be totally honest, feeling a bit of overload from all these recent Diana features for the anniversary - this felt new. So many little details, so many little sparkles, to appreciate for the first time. I think it's worth a click.


29 August 2017

Royal Birthday of the Week: Danish Royals Celebrate Nikolai's 18th

Prince Nikolai, eldest son of Prince Joachim and his first wife, Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg, celebrated his 18th birthday on Monday. He marked the occasion with a new official photo and a family dinner thrown by his grandmother, Queen Margrethe, on the royal yacht. You know, the usual 18th birthday stuff.

© Kongehuset
And so the whole family gathered (minus Crown Prince Frederik, who is in South Korea for IOC business), led by Margrethe in...a muumuu sort of thing? Living her best yacht rock life, in other words.

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Princess Marie, Princess Athena, Prince Henrik, Prince Joachim, Prince Nikolai, Countess Alexandra, Prince Felix
While Alexandra tried her hardest to single-handedly kill my love of statement shoes (too.many.straps., for starters), Marie picked up Margrethe's wavelength and gave it a trendier spin in Erdem, earning herself a nod as my best dressed for the night.

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Princess Isabella, Princess Josephine, Crown Princess Mary, Prince Vincent, Prince Christian
This blerghy Prada dress of Mary's goes all the way back to 2004! I've never loved it. But if you want to wear something that dates from before your four kids just because you can, well then, carry on.

28 August 2017

Monday Tidbits for August 28: Happy Tiara News, Happy Baby News

Three pieces of good news to start your week, how about that?

--A year ago, news broke that Queen Victoria's Sapphire Coronet had been sold to an overseas buyer and been placed under a temporary export ban in the hopes of finding another buyer that would keep this Prince Albert-designed diamond and sapphire tiara in the United Kingdom. On Sunday we finally heard the outcome: the tiara is now a part of the collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London! Excellent news, and such a perfectly appropriate home for this gem. It will go on public display in 2019.
Victoria & Albert Museum
Hedge fund tycoon William Bollinger - already the benefactor behind the museum's stunning jewelry gallery, which is named for him and his wife - stepped in, bought the tiara, and gifted it to the V&A. Queen Victoria's Sapphire Coronet was given as a wedding gift to Princess Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood, and was sold by her descendants to a dealer sometime in the past several years. The tiara's complete story has been updated and you can revisit it here.

--Roll on, Swedish royal baby boom! It was announced on Sunday that Princess Madeleine is expecting her third child with husband Chris O'Neill. The new addition joins Princess Leonor, 3, and Prince Nicholas, 2, and is due in March 2018.

--And finally, furry baby news: Prince Henrik's dog, Tillia, had eight puppies recently and the Danish royal court shared a picture of Henrik, Queen Margrethe, and four of their grandchildren with the new additions. They also shared a video of the puppies playing with at Fredensborg Palace with the crown princely family's dog, Grace. (A+ social media content from the Danish royal court, by the way.) [Instagram]

Tidbits is your spot for topics we haven't covered on the blog. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!

25 August 2017

Readers' Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #1. The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

Some of the entries on your final list of ten favorite tiaras provoked heated competition, but in the end, none could touch the queen of them all. You called it iconic, you called it the epitome of tiara-ness, you called it your best. And it's my best, too:

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara
The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara began as an 1893 wedding gift to the future Queen Mary from the "girls of Great Britain and Ireland" and was passed on to the future Queen Elizabeth II as a wedding gift in 1947. Along the way, the diamond design of festoons and scrolls lost the original top row of pearls and was separated from and then later reunited with its original diamond lozenge base. We revisited its whole history last year, click here to refresh your memory.

Queen Mary, with and without the pearls and the base; Queen Elizabeth II, with and without the base
This design really hits a lot of sweet spots: the scrolls give the tiara interest without being an overpowering motif; the top line isn't solid like a kokoshnik but is still fairly even all around; it's not an enormous diadem but it's far from small. It's almost a tiara designed for universal approval.

Given that, its spot on the top of your countdown (both in 2011 and now) probably doesn't come as a surprise. With countless appearances in action - it is essentially the Queen's favorite tiara; she is said to refer to it simply as "granny's tiara" - and countless appearances in portraits, on stamps, on money, on you name it, the Girls has earned its iconic status. Number one indeed.

And that, my friends, is it! I've loved all the tiara enthusiasm around here this month, and I'm so glad so many of you have joined in. Let's review the results, shall we?

50% British, 20% Dutch, and 30% Scandinavian. Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of these tiaras are represented by families with some of the largest and most famous tiara collections in the world. And most have had active public lives, so to speak, giving us plenty of opportunities to explore their splendor potential. The more we see and the more we know, the more we like.

Any surprises? How'd your faves do? You can go back through all the posts from the rematch by clicking here

One last note, for the curious: here's how your top 10 shook out in our original Readers' Favorite Tiara vote:

24 August 2017

Readers’ Favorite Tiaras, The Rematch: #2. The Fife Tiara

Some of the tiaras on your list get popularity boosts from the fact that they’re worn all the time, often by very famous figures. This tiara, on the other hand, racked up most of its appearances well over a century ago with very little since and hardly any public exposure. That’s not about to stop it from taking home your runner up ribbon:

The Fife Tiara
The Fife Tiara was a wedding gift to Princess Louise of Wales, the oldest daughter of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, for her marriage to the Earl of Fife in 1889. The tiara has diamonds mounted in silver and gold and the design is dominated by a series of pear-shaped diamonds that hang freely in a Gothic-inspired diamond framework. More large pear-shaped diamonds alternate with round diamonds along the top of the tiara. One can only image that this diadem would be blindingly sparkly in action.

Princess Louise
An identical design was shown as part of a display of the work of Paris jeweler Oscar Massin in 1878, and he is thus assumed to be the designer of the Fife Tiara. This is sometimes said to have been a gift from her parents, but contemporary reporting of her wedding gifts attributed it to the Earl (who was made the Duke of Fife by Queen Victoria right after the wedding). Her parents' gift, on the other hand, is described as a classic convertible diamond fringe tiara.

Princess Louise
Princess Louise was given the title of Princess Royal but didn’t play a large role in the royal family and took a backseat to her mother and sister, Princess Victoria, both of whom were considered prettier, and to her more notably married sister, Queen Maud of Norway. Apparently a rather difficult person to make conversation with, she earned herself the title "Her Royal Shyness" and was most known for her talents in the realms of music and fishing. Her marriage to the Duke, who was 18 years older, seems to have done her a world of good - as, no doubt, did the escape from the smothering atmosphere of her parents' home. She was one of the first princesses to marry a subject rather than a prince but Queen Victoria approved of the union, noting that the groom was extremely rich.

Louise, also wearing her fringe necklace/tiara from her parents
Louise had three children: a stillborn son followed by two daughters, Princesses Alexandra and Maud. Because it was known in advance that there would be no Fife son to inherit the title, Queen Victoria made a special dispensation for inheritance in the female line. Accordingly, Princess Alexandra became the Duchess of Fife in her own right when her father died. Later she was also known as Princess Arthur of Connaught through her marriage.

Alexandra, Duchess of Fife
The Fife Tiara passed to Princess Alexandra and she, as Duchess of Fife, wore it to the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937. Alexandra was predeceased by her own son, so the title – and the tiara - passed down to her nephew, James Carnegie. So far as we know, the tiara is still with the family. It seems the only modern example we have of the Fife Tiara in use is one glimpse of it on the current Duchess of Fife.

The current Duchess of Fife
Several tiaras have been, at one point or another, associated with the Fife branch of the family in addition to this diamond masterpiece: the convertible fringe necklace tiara Louise received from her parents, a diamond floral tiara that (at the very least) bears close resemblance to one made famous by Downton Abbey, Princess Maud was seen wearing Queen Alexandra’s amethysts at the 1937 coronation, and the last known appearance in use of Queen Victoria’s Emerald and Diamond Tiara was on a past Duchess of Fife. So much intrigue in that list, and few answers about what might still be in the collection today.

I can only assume that the Fife Tiara was a favorite of Princess Louise, judging from how often she selected it for portraits, and I can’t blame her one bit. It’s substantial yet light; delicate despite the extreme carat weight that must be present here. Perhaps it’s for the best that we don’t see it in use these days. The sparkle might blind you. (….NAH. Just kidding. It’s in desperate need of a proper outing.)

Did the Mighty Fife earn a spot on your personal list?