03 September 2015

Tiara Thursday: Princess Andrew's Tiara

Born at Windsor Castle in the presence of her great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, Princess Alice of Battenberg (1885-1969) fell in love with Prince Andrew of Greece and Denmark, son of King George I and Queen Olga of Greece, at the coronation of King Edward VII and married him in 1903. Thereafter, she was often known as Princess Andrew. Like most women of her station, she had at least a couple of tiaras at her disposal. This particular tiara from her collection reminds me of the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg Diamond Spike Tiara, with diamond spiked motifs and circles supporting a row of large single stones. Those large stones are likely not diamonds, and are usually said to have been aquamarines.
She may have been born into the most royal setting possible, but Alice's life was not one of privileged ease. She faced an early challenge in her deafness, which did not keep her from learning several languages; later, she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and endured a period of institutionalization. She married into the highly unstable Greek monarchy, which meant periods of struggle in exile as the monarchy went in and out of favor. She was eventually able to settle back in Athens and lived a humble and charitable life there, including hiding a Jewish family in her home to save them from the concentration camps during World War II. Princess Andrew eventually founded a nursing order of Greek Orthodox nuns. Even with all those notable points, she remains best known as the mother of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who was the youngest of her five children.
The tiara today
Her life is truly the stuff of biographies and documentaries and not something we can do justice to in a tiara post. What is clear even from the most condensed version of her life story, though, is that her path led her away from a life of tiaras and jewels. She sold some of those pieces she no longer needed, and gave at least a few away. As a wedding gift for her new daughter-in-law, Princess Elizabeth, the future queen, she gave her diamond Meander Tiara (now worn by the Princess Royal). The tiara we're discussing here also ended up in the collection of the Queen, though not in this format. Princess Andrew gave it to her son in 1947 to break down and create an engagement ring for Princess Elizabeth. The other diamonds* were used to create Prince Philip's wedding gift for his bride, a wide bracelet. This is another example of a jewel remake that I find superior to the original, and as an added bonus, those diamonds are certainly getting more use today than they would if they were still in their tiara format.

Original tiara or ring/bracelet remake, which do you prefer?

*Some have speculated that the button portion of Princess Andrew's tiara was worn once by the Countess of Wessex in 2004, but it's important to note that the designs and the length of the two pieces are completely different. Additionally, it's doubtful that there would have been enough remaining diamonds to create the tiara worn by Sophie. You can read more about the piece worn by Sophie, which seems to have been a jeweler loan for the occasion, here from Anna of the Countess of Wessex Blog.

Photos: Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II

02 September 2015

Royal Style Twins of the Day: September 2

Princess Iman bint Abdullah, daughter of Jordan's King Abdullah and Queen Rania, attended a forum in France with her mother last week. Does that Alexander McQueen dress with contrast corset detailing look familiar to you? It should...
Add another pair to my list of people I never thought would share dress taste: Princess Stephanie of Monaco and Princess Iman! Stephanie took a casual approach for her McQueen look (and, you know, for all her looks), opting for the shorter blue version and staying away from statement accessories for the christening of her niece and nephew earlier this year. Iman, on the other hand, went for more of a McQueen moment with those detailed Sergio Rossi shoes. Her version of the dress and her shoes for me, please.

We mustn't forget the Queen, of course. It's disappointingly practical of me that all I can think about this ecru Givenchy dress is how much of a pain that scarf and those sleeves would be in the wind, but I still can't deny that Rania does queenly business attire right. Hey, she can pay someone to block her from the breeze if need be.

Photos: via Getty Images/Farfetch/Pool-Palais Princier de Monaco/Instagram

01 September 2015

Royal Outfits of the Day: September 1

Prince Carl Philip are Princess Sofia are back from the summer holiday and their honeymoon, and they're getting right down to business. The Duke and Duchess of Värmland headed first to - where else? - Värmland for a two day visit.
I have to admit that none of those outfits really grabbed me, and I'm just sort of clinging to the hope that those earrings were at least fabulous up close. The visit was pretty charming anyway.

But then they joined Queen Silvia to open the Royal Palace's new exhibit featuring the fashion of the late Princess Lilian, and I got real interested real quick. (In the ladies' outfits, I mean. Carl Philip wore a suit.)
Purple-y*? Slightly retro-y on Sofia? Now we're speaking my love language.

*I know the dresses on Sofia and Silvia look blue in other pictures. You sssssh and let me have my purple moment, mmmkay?

Here's a video on that exhibit, by the way. The narration is Swedish but couture visuals need no translation.
Designs for a Princess - The Lilian Look! opened in time to mark what would have been Princess Lilian's 100th birthday on August 30th. If you need a refresher on who the lovely Lilian was, click here.

31 August 2015

Monday Tidbits for August 31: Traditional Dress Both Big and Small, and More

Let's start our week off with some cuteness, shall we?

--WEE BABIES in WEE NATIONAL COSTUMES. What more could you ask for? More on Prince Albert, Princess Charlene, Prince Jacques, and Princess Gabriella at the traditional picnic in Monaco here. [Hello]

--Queen Silvia also spent some time in traditional dress this week (minus the pacifier). This gallery also includes Crown Princess Victoria in a nice light dress for a prize presentation this week. [Paris Match] 

--This gallery of Princess Marie's recent events should be subtitled A Love Affair with Patterned Dresses. I'll take the turquoise-y one, please and thank you. [PurePeople]

--We marked the wedding anniversary of one pair of Norwegian love birds last week, and another pair did the same this weekend: King Harald and Queen Sonja celebrated 47 years of marriage. Relive her wedding gown and their long road to the altar with my post from three years ago.

--Queen Paola has been ordered to take a complete rest for undisclosed health reasons, the Belgian palace announced this week. She and King Albert were scheduled to attend the Biennale in Venice, which would have been their first official public appearance in months, but all engagements for the royal couple have been canceled. [Brussels Times]

--Rayanne Graff is a countess now, FYI. [Vanity Fair]

--Leave it to Crown Princess Mary to make a skirt in a tricky length look picture perfect (at the Index Award, and also everywhere else). [SN]
A photo posted by Danish Design Centre (@designcentret) on

--And finally, over at the Jewel Vault, I'm flashing back through the decades of QEII's reign as we approach the day when she'll pass Queen Victoria in the record reign stakes. Come for the jewels, stay for the foreign royals and the ill-advised hats.

Coming up this week: Swedish newlyweds and more...

28 August 2015

Royal Hats of the Day: August 28

The hats are back! The surest sign yet that things are picking up speed once more in the royal world.

Queen Máxima opening a house for people with autism
I definitely like Máx in her trademark brights, but soft pastels with a hint of pink in the jewels and a hat that's big brimmed without overtaking the scene is the perfect way to get back to work. Simple and lovely, no?

Elsewhere, in hat returns...
Crown Princess Mary opening a new psychiatric hospital
Mary's really been piling on the engagements lately, and this remixed combo of reused pieces earns an A+, I think. She must have an entire section of her closet devoted to dresses in this basic silhouette, but when it works, it works.
Signe Bøgelund-Jensen dress
Then again, I'm so happy to see some proper princessing in action once more, I may be grading on a curve.

Photos: via Getty Images / Twitter / Polyvore