The Duchess dazzled as she arrived at Buckingham Palace for tonight’s state banquet. The evening is in honor of King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, in London for a two-day state visit.
Arguably the most notable thing Kate is wearing is not jewelry (although there’s plenty to chatter about on this front), but the Royal Family Order, seen on her left shoulder.
Historically orders are miniature portraits painted on ivory. The tiny portraits are worn atop a silk ribbon. Here you see the royal family orders for (left to right) George IV, Edward VII, George V, and George VI.
The Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II is a gift personally bestowed by The Queen to female members of the Royal Family. Here you see it on Sophie, Countess of Wessex.
The image of the Queen shows her in formal attire and wearing a tiara. The oval is surrounded by diamonds topped by a red enameled crown. One element of Kate’s order marks a significant change: it is painted on glass, not ivory.
Simon Perry of People reports the Duchess first wore the order in December of last year at the Queen’s Diplomatic Reception.
Back to the jewels, starting with what is becoming Kate’s go-to tiara, the Lover’s Knot.
A refresher via this Vogue story:
A Kensington Palace spokesperson confirms to Vogue that Kate Middleton wore the Lover’s Knot tiara paired with Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace. They were first spotted on the duchess through the window of a Bentley, perched delicately around her head and neck.
The Lover’s Knot tiara is quite the adornment, containing 19 diamond arches decorated with 38 drop-pearls. It was commissioned for Queen Mary in 1913, made by British jewelry house Garrard.
Now to the gems we see shimmering on the Duchess’s neck. A hearty “thank you” to all who pointed out this is Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace.
We learn more from Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault:
The necklace features 8 pearls surrounded by diamonds, each connected with festoons of diamonds, and three detachable diamond and pearl drop pendants. Queen Mary gave the necklace to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, and she wore it constantly. The necklace was finally reunited with the brooch and earrings when The Queen inherited it in 2002; we have yet to see her wear it publicly.
And from the Royal Order of Splendor:
Here you see The Queen Mother wearing the necklace for her birthday in 1985.
Embed from Getty Images
I thought this worked very well for the Duchess. It didn’t overpower her the way I thought the Nizam of Hyderabad did when worn back in February 2014.
Many also noted that Kate is wearing Diana’s Collingwood pearl earrings.
A look at the senior royals at tonight’s banquet, from left to right: Queen Máxima, King Willem-Alexander, The Queen, the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall.
HM was wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara. Order of Splendor shared, “The Queen is wearing the Cullinan III and IV Brooch, “Granny’s Chips”! Special nod to a Dutch visit, as the Cullinan was cut in Amsterdam.”
Those of us fond of shiny, sparkly things were simply giddy when we saw pictures of Queen Máxima.
Why? Because she was wearing the Stuart Tiara. More from this Hello! story:
The Dutch royal’s outfit was accessorised with an extra-special headpiece – the Stuart tiara featuring the Stuart diamond – which made its first appearance since Queen Juliana’s 1972 State Visit to the UK. The 47-year-old wore her blonde hair in a chic updo, and her makeup was suitably glam, with lashings of mascara and a red lip.
Whatever you want to call it, it is the grandest set in the substantial Dutch royal collection, and it houses perhaps the single most important stone in the collection.
The tiara is part of a set, or parure, of jewels including a huge necklace and a bow brooch so big you might as well call it a stomacher.
That is one extraordinary brooch! The Duchess of Cornwall wore the Greville Tiara, which The Court Jeweller points out “Most of us used to call it “the Boucheron Honeycomb Tiara,” but in 2012, we learned that the royal family simply calls it “the Greville Tiara.” It was originally made by Boucheron for the Hon. Mrs. Margaret Greville, DBE, who bequeathed it (and many other jewels) to Queen Elizabeth (later The Queen Mother) in 1942.
Now for a look at Kate’s Alexander McQueen gown. As soon as I saw it I swear there was an ear-splitting cry of “prom dress!” echoing across the Twittersphere and blogosphere. And for those who didn’t have a prom dress with some of these design elements, how about a bridesmaid dress?
The dress is done in a color called “Kingfisher blue,” kind of a blue-grey. I don’t believe I have ever seen the Duchess in a mermaid or trumpet style design before. (I’m going with ‘trumpet’ because the flare starts above Kate’s knee.) Am I forgetting things from the early days, years before the wedding? The fabric is just beautiful, and the neckline flattering on Kate. We know the Duchess loves a figure-skimming silhouette.
I think the challenge comes with the skirt. Where you take the angles and hard edges of the knife pleating and ruching and combine them with the soft rosette at the shoulder, the angular vee where the fabric flares out and the very full skirt, it feels like there is an awful lot going on. This is likely to be one of those designs that we all respond to strongly, either a “love it” or “hate it,” I don’t see a lot of, “meh.”
The thing that struck me was that I couldn’t remember Kate in this silhouette, nor could I recall McQueen designs like hers, and I started to think I was nuts, not being able to remember similar looks or designs. Surely there were McQueen pieces somewhere in the lineage that would act as markers, offering a clue to the development of Kate’s frock. I did a little looking around on the interwebs and did find this piece.
It is a 2007 design, from the S/S collection. It’s not Kate’s fabric, I’m not suggesting that. But it was fascinating to see there were pieces in the archives in styles I had completely forgotten!
We did not see what shoes Kate wore tonight, but we could see that she had a new clutch and wore one of the diamond bracelets we have seen at previous state dinners. Some of tonight’s photos are a little blurry, like the one you see below. I have not had time to look for the bag but expect to have time tomorrow to do that.
UPDATE Wednesday night, 10/24: Laura suggested Kate might be carrying Jerome Rousseau, and it looks like she is probably spot-on.
It was fun seeing everyone wearing white-tie this evening. We will see Kate again next week but in a more casual environment; here’s more info from our Kate’s Calendar page.
- Tuesday, October 30: William and Kate will visit Coach Core Essex. TRH will meet new apprentices, hear from graduates, and learn how the scheme in Essex is engaging a diverse local community with sport.