Monday, 6 November 2017

State Visit Sparklers: Israel to Spain

You don't need to get overly excited here. As the King and Queen of Spain hosted their first incoming State Visit since February, there were only ever really two options on the tiara table for the banquet that Felipe and Letizia hosted for the President of Israel and his wife at the Royal Palace in Madrid on the night of November 6th 2017. As Queen of Spain, Leti has only ever cracked out the Floral Tiara or La Buena and given the state of her country right now, bringing out all the bling was never an option. So settle back and enjoy the sparkle of Letizia's diamond flowers, part 9843.

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The tiara's history is well known. Let's start with the bit no one minds talking about. The tiara was originally made for Maria Theresa of Austria when she became the second wife of King Alfonso XII in 1879. It's the work of British jewellery firm, J.P. Collins, and it features some really rather lovely flowers made entirely of diamonds set on gold and silver. Floral tiaras are a common find in European royal collections and they do tend to go with absolutely everything. So far, so very flowery.

But the other part of this tiara's back story is more problematic. It left the Spanish Royal Family at some point in the 20th century - they went into exile in 1931. It arrived in the modern Borbon jewellery box back in the 1960s when Franco bought it as a wedding gift for the then Princess Sofia of Greece as she wed Juan Carlos, the man who would be king. Sofia liked it a lot as did her younger daughter, Infanta Cristina, who wore it more often than most and chose it for her wedding tiara when she wed Inaki Urdangarin in 1997. Since her husband became king in 2014, Letizia has made this a bit of a go to piece of her own.

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So there was no surprise seeing it sparkle into action again tonight. This is a rare public appearance for Felipe and Letizia whose agenda has been sparse since the start of October and the disputed independence referendum in Catalonia which led to the region's leaders declaring independence and Madrid imposing direct rule ahead of fresh regional elections on December 21st. King Felipe has made several speeches about the crisis, with his comments sparking much debate, especially as he made no reference to the almost 900 people injured when Guardia Civil moved in to try and stop the referendum taking place on October 1st 2017.

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This State Dinner is one part of a very low key State Visit for President Reuven Rivlin and his wife, Nechama. The visitors arrived to an official welcome on the morning of November 6th 2017 before going on to a private lunch with Felipe and Letizia. The King of Spain and the President of Israel also held an audience during the day.

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 The two day trip comes to an end on November 7th 2017 with an event hosted by President and Mrs Rivlin for their hosts and that will also mark the end of Felipe and Letizia's agenda for the week. We can expect appearances in the coming days from King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia but both relatively low profile. Which is the best way to sum up Letizia's look for this latest State Banquet. If a gala look could be described as under the radar this is it. Which is why the appearance of the old favourite floral was so expected. Welcome, but expected.

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