It was a State Banquet months in the making with huge expectations on the tiara count and as the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh hosted King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain at Buckingham Palace, the sparkle didn't disappoint. There are enough tiaras here to keep even the most die hard diadem fan happy until Christmas with history and surprises everywhere you look. Welcome to State Dinner Sparklers on #SpainStateVisit 2017.
The Queen pulled a big surprise by wearing her Brazilian Aqumarines. The centre piece of this set of jewels is the huge tiara which is a creation of the Queen's reign. The stones in this sparkler were shaped into a diadem on the orders of Elizabeth II herself. She received aquamarines as a gift from the people of Brazil on her coronation and so liked them that as she accumulated more of the stones, she had a tiara created by Garrard which was then expanded as the sparkles kept coming. This wasn't top of the tiaras everyone thought the Queen might wear for this State Banquet so there's your first surprise. And here's the start of the historical connections. Queen Ena, the British princess who married King Alfonso XIII of Spain, loved aquamarines and at one time commissioned her own huge parure featuring the stone. Seen in that light, the choice of aquamarines is a rather lovely nod.
Queen Letizia of Spain surprised no one by wearing Queen Ena's Fleur-de-Lys tiara. This diamond dazzler, known to the Spanish Royal Family as 'La Buena' as it's the best one in their collection, can only be worn by queens and after Letizia debuted it in February, it was always a hot favourite to make the trip to the UK. And lucky she brought it, too. Queen Ena became the star of the show in the afternoon of day one as the exhibition of Spanish items in the Royal Collection focused on her so even if Leti hadn't had this one in the bag, there might well have been a frantic phone call to Madrid to get it over to London quick smart. There's nothing not to like about this 1906 creation by Ansonera, made for Ena to wear on her wedding day when she said 'I do' and became a queen. At its heart is a sparkling Fleur de Lys, the symbol of the House of Bourbon.