08 February 2016

Royal Outfit of the Day: February 8

The Duchess of Cambridge was back in action yesterday, attending a 75th anniversary service for the RAF Air Cadets. She took over as their Honorary Air Commandant in December as a replacement for the Duke of Edinburgh, who had filled the position for over 60 years.
She made the perfect outfit choice for her first engagement in her new position, her repeated Alexander McQueen coat giving a nod to the belted blue uniforms without dipping into mimicry. She also wore a Lock & Co. hat, although all eyes were on one other major accessory.

The Air Cadets Dacre Brooch, as it is known, is made with diamonds and other gemstones, and is massive because it was originally used for another purpose. Per the RAF:
The Dacre Brooch is the highest award any female Air Cadet can achieve. In 1979, Mrs Elizabeth Dacre MBE TD JP presented to the Air Training Corps the dress sword of her late husband, Air Commodore G B Dacre CBE DSO DL RAF to be presented to the “ATC Cadet of the Year.” With the advent of girls in 1982, Mrs Dacre presented the Corps with a diamond brooch mounted on a sash, for presentation to the best female cadet.
The brooch was awarded annually until last year, when it was decided that a sword would be awarded instead, just like the male cadets receive. That works out rather well, now that they have the Duchess on board to wear the brooch for events related to the Air Cadets. It's one of the biggest regimental brooches I've seen in use in the royal family, and she showcased it well on a simple coat.

In other news, Kate's message of support for Children's Mental Health Week is out.
And this repeated Rebecca Taylor suit rounds out the run of outfits both blue and universally appropriate.

Photos: via Getty Images

07 February 2016

Sunday Tidbits for February 7: Triple the Baby News, and More

It's birthday season and baby season, what a coincidence...

--Baby news #1: Congratulations to the King and Queen of Bhutan! Queen Jetsun Pema gave birth to their first child, a boy, on February 5. The baby is known as His Royal Highness The Gyalsey. [Facebook]
His Majesty King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck Facebook

--Here's an excellent way to waste some time: The Dutch Royal Collection is now online, allowing you to search through all sorts of paintings and other objets d'art belonging to the various foundations of the House of Orange-Nassau. [Koninklijke Verzamelingen]

--A fairly sedate appearance for Crown Princess Mary this week at Copenhagen Fashion Week, though you can't see her excellent leopard print shoes here. (But you can in this small gallery, where you can also see Countess Alexandra making an appearance.) Mary turned 44 on Friday, so happy birthday to her! [nordjyske.dk]

--Baby news #2: Congrats are also in order in Jordan, for Prince Rashid bin Hassan and his wife, Princess Zeina, who welcomed their second son on February 1. The baby is named Talal. [Petra]

--Luxembourg's grand ducal family has a documentary coming out on February 14 with a behind the scenes look at a year in their lives. Luxarazzi has the trailer.

--Baby news #3: Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma and husband Albert Brenninkmeijer released a cute new family photo with their new son, Xavier, born December 16, and daughter Alaïa-Maria.

--If you haven't heard the depressing news yet, Spain has cancelled a planned March state visit to Britain. Per the Spanish Foreign Ministry: "Due to the process of forming a new government currently underway in Spain, the state visit has been postponed." Politicians, always ruining our tiara fun. #priorities [The Local]

--Here's some British sparkle anyway: The Duchess of Cornwall went out this week dripping in diamonds and a possibly dubious dress. [Jewel Vault]

--And finally: Harry, on cuteness duty once again. [Sun]

05 February 2016

Tiara Thursday (on a Friday): The Dutch Laurel Wreath Tiara

This is an appropriate tiara to discuss around Princess Beatrix's birthday:
Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma wearing the Dutch Laurel Wreath Tiara
The Dutch Laurel Wreath Tiara is often labeled the oldest in the family collection (it's probably around 200 years old or so), which is appropriate for a tiara that happens to be a diamond interpretation of the wreath headdresses of ancient Greece and Rome. I've always felt the Dutch version has a sturdier look than some the other wreath tiaras out there, such as Mathilde's Laurel Wreath Tiara or Lilian's Laurel Wreath Tiara, probably in part because of the diamonds that highlight its base.
Princess Beatrix wearing the tiara to celebrate her 18th birthday in 1956
ANP - Benelux Press - Reuters /ANP Archief, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The antique tiara may have been acquired for Princess Beatrix's 18th birthday in 1956 by her parents, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard, or it may date back to Princess Louise, sister of King Willem I. Either way, it became a staple of Princess Beatrix's younger tiara appearances after she turned 18.
Princess Beatrix wearing the tiara in 1958
ANP - ANP Foundation /ANP Archief, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
But eventually - as she gained access to other tiaras, it seems - Princess Beatrix's use of the Laurel Wreath Tiara tapered off. Others in the family continued to wear it, including Beatrix's sisters, Princesses Margriet and Christina.

Video: The wedding of Prince Constantijn and Laurentien Brinkhorst
Princess Laurentien wore the tiara when she married Beatrix's son, Prince Constantijn (and afterward); Princess Carolina of Bourbon-Parma (Beatrix's niece) also used it on her wedding day. Surprisingly, this remains one of the few Dutch tiaras that Queen Máxima has not tried out yet - though I would love to see it on her or back on Beatrix, just for a change.

Who do you think wears this wreath tiara best?

04 February 2016

Tiara Watch of the Day: February 4

We interrupt your regularly scheduled tiara programming to bring you some tiaras in action! Bless Sweden and their representation dinners, bringing us some bling before the year's state visits kick into gear. (Don't worry, Tiara Thursday will be on tomorrow.)

King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, sporting the Connaught Tiara, led the way. All these different reds are making me twitchy.

Crown Princess Victoria wore this dress when she was pregnant with Princess Estelle, and I still haven't decided whether it's unfortunately nightgown-esque or pleasingly sparkly cloud-filled sky-esque. Either way, she takes home the prize for Best Tiara of the Night with the Baden Fringe.

Following through on Victoria's sparkly maternity trend, Princess Sofia went all in with a dress apparently borrowed from a friend (I think I miss the belt the friend wore it with, though). She is again wearing her emerald and diamond wedding tiara, and though she still hasn't used a tiara from the family vault, she continues to wear other pieces (earrings, brooch, bracelet) from the family collection. I can't blame her for giving her in-law's gift plenty of attention, even if I long to see everybody in something different every time.

So, who sparkled it best? I think I might have to call this one a tie...

UPDATE: You can see video of the royal family at the dinner here. Victoria's dress is just as alive as the Baden Fringe in motion, and I am now firmly ON BOARD. Also, you get a glimpse of Princess Christina (sadly left out of most pictures) in the Six Button Tiara.

03 February 2016

Royal Jewel of the Day: Queen Alexandrine's Diamond and Sapphire Pendant Brooch

Princess Marie of Denmark - wife to Prince Joachim, daughter-in-law to Queen Margrethe, soon-to-be birthday girl (she turns 40 on February 6th!) - doesn't have too many jewels with royal family history behind them at her disposal. The tiara she has on loan from Queen Margrethe is the main one, and that's pretty much par for the course in the Danish royal family. But she does get to wear this brooch:
2015: Princess Marie wears the brooch during the Dutch state visit
The focus in this brooch is on the ring of diamonds and sapphires that alternate around the edge, but perhaps the most impressive part is the large diamond cluster at the center. The jewel also has a removable diamond drop pendant. It can be worn as a brooch, or on a chain as a pendant necklace; Princess Marie has worn it with both a delicate chain and a more substantial necklace (seen in the last picture here).
2007: Queen Margrethe wears the brooch, sans pendant, at the beginning of a Swedish state visit to Denmark
It dates back at least to Queen Alexandrine (1879-1952), wife of Christian X, and has passed down through the Danish royal family since then. Queen Margrethe was the last to use it before it was given or loaned to Princess Marie. Marie first wore it as a pendant to the New Year's gala banquet in 2010, so some have speculated that it was a present for the birth of Marie and Joachim's first child (much in the same way Queen Margrethe gave Crown Princess Mary an heirloom sapphire and diamond brooch after the birth of Prince Christian).
2015: Worn as a pendant during Queen Margrethe's birthday celebrations
Much as Mary uses her heirloom, Marie exercises restraint in the use of her brooch. She wears it mainly for gala events and occasionally for special day events. I suppose there's something to be said for holding them for special occasions, but that sparkle...well, I'd find it hard to resist on a daily basis.

Photos: via Getty Images