Thursday, 13 July 2017

State Dinner Sparklers: Spanish State Visit

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.

No surprises either from the Duchess of Cornwall who chose the Greville tiara which has been one of her go to pieces since her marriage. The tiara itself started life with a Mrs Greville (see what they did there?) who had it made in the 1920s and left it to Elizabeth, later Queen Mother, in the 1940s in her will as she had no one else to bequeath it too. It also ensured that her tiara ended up as part of a royal collection. The Queen Mother left it to the Queen on her death and Camilla has been borrowing it ever since. There was a bit of a surprise from the Duchess of Cornwall, though, as she added some rather modern sparkly earrings to her look.

We were kind of expecting Kate to wear Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara and she didn't disappoint. This was a favourite of Diana's and it's now appeared three times on Kate's head at big events. But don't get all disappointed just yet as the Duchess of Cambridge pulled a sparkly surprise all of her own. We got a (very) low cut dress from Kate at the State Banquet with a dip big enough to accommodate the Diamond and Ruby Floral Necklace that she'd borrowed from the Queen. This sparkler was a wedding present to the then Princess Elizabeth from her parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, so it's got a real sentimental attachment to it as well as being about as bling as we've seen Kate go. And it came from more stones left to the family by Mrs. Greville. There was another sentimental touch as the Duchess of Cambridge wore pearl and diamond earrings that belonged to Diana, Princess of Wales. So much attention on Kate's jewellery that for once the dress wasn't the first thing everyone was talking about.

The Princess Royal followed her mother's lead and went for aquamarines. Anne wore a tiara of diamonds and aquamarines that began life in the Queen Mother's collection. It features huge rectangular stones (making this even more of a match for the Queen's tiara choice) interspersed with smaller aquamarines in the shape of pine cones. Yes, pine cones. Well, let's face it, it's hard to be different with diadem design sometimes. We got more aquamarines from the Countess of Wessex who stuck with the tiara featuring that stone she has made a go to (boo hoo, no snaps of Sophie arriving and hard to get a freeze frame from the official video).
Princess Michael of Kent was in, wait for it, the Kent tiara. Yep, this one was about as obvious as Letizia and La Buena. The diamond and pearl creation belonged to Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent and was left to Prince Michael in her will. It's pretty, it's pearly, it's no great surprise but Marie-Christine wears it so well and it meant we got even more tiaras at this fabulous gala night. The State Dinner Sparklers for this long awaited State Visit really didn't disappoint. 

Photo credit: Casa Real Twitter and casarealtv still.


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