19 February 2018

Royal Jewels of the Day: Kate's Emerald Display

The Duchess of Cambridge decided to show off a little more from her jewel vault last night.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge attended the BAFTA Awards.
Embed from Getty Images
Emerald and diamond earrings with a matching necklace and bracelet! This is not an entirely new jewel debut. Recall, if you will, her visit to New York in 2014:

Embed from Getty Images
At the St. Andrews 600th Anniversary Dinner
The earrings she wore to the BAFTAs appear to be the bottom portion of the earrings she wore in 2014. She also wore the bracelet back in 2014. The provenance of this set is not officially known, but a gift from a Middle Eastern royal - based on the style and size of the jewels - is my strongest guess. A wedding present, maybe, since that would have been her biggest opportunity to pick up a Middle East gift thus far in her royal life.

If I just leave it at the emeralds and don't talk about the dress color, can we call that good?
Embed from Getty Images
Thing is, I found the notion that there should be any "controversy" should she choose to wear black in support of Time's Up in the first place to be a fairly infuriating thing. And I find myself unwilling to devote any more words to it than that. (But I'll end this back on a purely superficial note to say that, while the shape of this Jenny Packham dress is stunning, I'm not a fan of the dullness of this color with the vibrant emeralds. Funnily enough, they'd have looked amazing with black.)

16 February 2018

Royal Flashback of the Day: Margrethe and Henrik's Wedding

The Danish royal family are this week continuing to mourn the loss of Prince Henrik and prepare for his funeral. They have emerged to view the flowers left outside the palace by the crowds and to accompany Prince Henrik's coffin from Fredensborg Palace to Amalienborg Palace. Queen Margrethe has declared court mourning until March 14th, during which time the royal family and court will wear dark clothing for public appearances and will not take part in any social or entertainment events. The funeral will be held on February 20th. It will be a private family event in accordance with Prince Henrik's wishes, not a state occasion (no foreign royals in attendance).

As they say goodbye, let's take a video look back to when they said hello: Margrethe's wedding to Henrik on June 10, 1967. The future queen wore the Khedive of Egypt Tiara and a Jørgen Bender gown that incorporated antique family lace; her groom could have passed for a French James Bond in his dapper white tie. Theirs may not have been the easiest match all the way through, but it certainly seemed to be a wonderful artistic and intellectual pairing, and they were clearly head over heels on this happy wedding day.

15 February 2018

Tiara Thursday: The Cartier "Lusitania" Tiara

Some tiaras are set apart by their extraordinary materials or craftsmanship, some become known for their ownership, and some simply have a story you can't forget.

The Cartier "Lusitania" Tiara
This tiara was commissioned from Cartier Paris in 1909 by Sir Hugh Montagu Allan for his wife, Marguerite (1873-1957). It features a classic Greek key or meander motif created with circular-cut diamonds in a millegrain setting, with a border of seed pearls and a large detachable old-mine cut diamond at the center. Sir Montagu, as he was known, was a prominent Canadian banker and ship owner and the family were fixtures of Montreal society.

Lady Allan wearing her Cartier tiara
In 1915, the family was packing up their life in Canada and heading to England, where they intended to stay for the duration of World War I to assist in the war efforts. Lady Allan was to help open a hospital in England for Canadian serviceman. Sir Montagu was still in Canada closing up the family's mansion when his wife and two of the couple's four children, 16-year-old Anna and 15-year-old Gwendolyn, set out to sail from New York to Liverpool on the RMS Lusitania. Joining the Allans on their fateful journey were two of Marguerite's maids, Emily Davis and Annie Walker, plus a load of luggage that included Lady Allan's jewels - and her diamond and pearl Cartier tiara. The ship left New York on May 1, 1915.

The Lusitania was one of the largest and fastest ships on the sea, and it continued to ferry civilian passengers across the Atlantic even as submarine warfare intensified. Germany had declared the seas around the United Kingdom a war zone and had warned that allied ships were in those waters were risking attack. The German embassy in the United States even warned specifically of the threat to the Lusitania on its May 1915 voyage. Many, however, thought that the ship's speed would keep it safe from attack. They were wrong.

On the afternoon of May 7, 1915, the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the southern coast of Ireland. It sank in just 18 minutes. Of the nearly 2,000 passengers and crew on board, 1,198 died. Among the fatalities were both of the Allan's teenage daughters. (Heartbreakingly, Sir Montagu and Marguerite would later endure the losses of their remaining two children: son Hugh was killed on his first service flight as a member of the Royal Naval Air Service in 1917, and eldest daughter Martha died at the age of 47.) Though she was severely injured, Lady Allan survived the sinking of the Lusitania. Her two maids survived the shipwreck as well. Unbelievably, one of them also managed to save Lady Allan's Cartier tiara, concealing it in her clothes throughout the tragedy.

Marguerite Allan kept her shipwrecked tiara for the rest of her life and bequeathed it to a cousin, Elspeth Paterson Dawes. Ms. Dawes' granddaughter placed the tiara up for auction in 2015, telling The Globe and Mail that while she was sad to see it leave the family, the 100th anniversary of the war was the right time to let it go. The tiara sold for $799,265, well over its estimate of $293,994 - $443,483 (USD). It was reacquired by Cartier and is now part of the Cartier Collection.

Embed from Getty Images
On display at the V&A
Cartier's reserve of historical tiaras are regularly loaned for museum exhibitions, and if you happen to be in London in the first half of 2018, you have an opportunity to see the Lusitania tiara in person at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The tiara joins furnishings, ship fittings, clothing of wealthy passengers, and other items from the age of the great ocean liners in the Ocean Liners: Speed and Style exhibition, which runs now through June 17, 2018.

14 February 2018

Royal Outfit of the Day: Meghan and Harry in Scotland

{A note before we carry on with our usual fare: Very sadly, Prince Henrik passed away on the 13th. Tidbits has been updated and continues to be open, as always, for discussion.} 


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited Edinburgh yesterday.
MOD/Crown Copyright 2018
You'll never guess what Meghan wore for her first trip to Scotland: a long coat and trousers, okay, yeah, and also TARTAN, because what else. A Burberry coat this time around with some Veronica Beard trousers that proved a little too long for a stroll outdoors.

MOD/Crown Copyright 2018
When in doubt, match yourself to the regimental mascot. (This is Cruachan IV, the Shetland pony that spends more time hobnobbing with royalty than the royals themselves do, or so it seems. Cruachan met the Queen twice last year alone, once attempting to turn her bouquet of flowers into a tasty snack. Cheeky Cruachan tried to make a snack out of Harry this time, but who among us can blame him for that.)

Embed from Getty Images
She's still doing an excellent job of matching her outfit to Harry's, formality-wise, and I can't complain that I'd like to see her in something more formal (as I know many of you would) when the occasion doesn't call for it. It does, however, make me look forward to a more expanded program somewhere out there in the future - if for no other reason than putting an end to grand pronouncements on her style based on only a few appearances.

Embed from Getty Images
P.S.: Who am I to deny you a ring close up?

13 February 2018

Royal Outfits of the Day: Letizia in Lace

The King and Queen of Spain attended the Innovation and Design awards yesterday.
Embed from Getty Images
The latest update from the world of fussy lace comes to us by way of Letizia (in a Zara shirt), surprisingly enough. She's not the first one to reach for the voluminous sleeves, but she might be the only one that could make the voluminous sleeves and voluminous top work.

House of HM the King
It's really an awful lot of volume, though, isn't it? Yeah.

Queen Letizia attended the Princess Of Girona Foundation Prize in Arts and Literature last week.
Embed from Getty Images
There's a touch of lace in this gem from last week, too, on the top underneath her sharp jacket. It was my only minor quibble on this an otherwise sleek combo of Carolina Herrera and Hugo Boss. Although I was entirely distracted from the lace - and all the other things - once I realized that she went full animal print on arrival.

House of HM the King
A cheetah print coat! Oh yeah.