29 February 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Tiaras at Victoria & Daniel's Wedding

I can't think of a more appropriate way to celebrate the birth of a future tiara-wearing Swedish princess than a festival of tiaras, can you? (As though we needed an excuse in the first place.) Anyway, I thought I'd take this opportunity to fill in a gap in my coverage of the new parents' wedding: we never talked specifically about all the tiaras that attended Victoria and Daniel's wedding in 2010. And seriously, this wedding was quite the tiara battle royale (including some surprises, delights, and rarely seen treasures). Just one of the reasons this event reigns as my current favorite royal wedding...

Left to Right: Queen Silvia, Crown Princess Victoria, and Princess Madeleine of Sweden
The Swedish ladies set the bar high for their tiara-wearing guests. Queen Silvia brought out her big gun, the Braganza Tiara. Not only was it an amazing appearance of that tiara, it was an amazing feat of tiara-wearing: that's a heavy beast, and she had it on for hours! Silvia set a trend for other royal ladies who also brought out their big guns, and her daughters set another trend we saw on several other women: the brand-new-to-you tiara appearance. Victoria carried on her family's bridal tradition by wearing the Cameo Tiara for the very first time, and her sister Madeleine wore the Connaught Diamond Tiara for the very first time.

Princesses Margaretha, Désirée, Christina, and Birgitta of Sweden
The Swedish collection is huge and luckily for us, all four of the king's sisters were on hand to display even more gems. Margaretha delighted tiara watchers when she appeared in the aquamarine kokoshnik once worn by her mother Princess Sibylla - it hadn't been seen in so long, many had assumed it was sold! Désirée and Christina both used tiaras that are often passed around in the family (Queen Josephine's Amethyst Tiara and the Six Button Tiara, respectively) while Birgitta scooped up the Nine Prong Tiara that we most often see on Queen Silvia.

Countesses Marianne and Gunilla Bernadotte; Princess Désirée of Hohenzollern
We even got a wee glimpse of some tiaras from the edges of the Swedish royal family, including diamond numbers on Marianne (wife of the king's late uncle Sigvard Bernadotte) and Gunilla (wife of the king's uncle Carl Johan Bernadotte). Meanwhile, Princess Birgitta's daughter Désirée wore one of Birgitta's wedding presents, a pearl tiara.

Queen Sonja, Crown Princess Mette-Marit, and Princess Märtha Louise of Norway
Next-door neighbors Norway also turned it out for the occasion by playing a little tiara switcheroo. Sonja followed Silvia's example and brought her big gun, Empress Joséphine's Emerald Tiara, a completely expected choice (though her coral pairing was...well, less expected and also less explicable). But Mette-Marit got to wear Queen Maud's Pearl Tiara for the first time, and Märtha Louise unexpectedly borrowed the Amethyst Necklace Tiara that's been in Mette-Marit's possession for the last few years. Sisters-in-law sharing tiaras, I love it!

Queen Margrethe and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark; Queen Anne-Marie and Princess Alexia of Greece
Denmark brought more big guns for us: Margrethe wore the Pearl Poire Tiara, which is sort of her version of a big gun even though it's not exactly a whopper (comparatively, I mean - not that it's anything to sneeze at), as did Mary with the Danish Ruby Parure. Mary's use of the rubies - the first time she'd worn them outside of Denmark - was a wonderful tribute: the rubies are best known for their time on Queen Ingrid's head, and Ingrid was a Swedish princess who married her Danish crown prince in the very same Stockholm cathedral Victoria and Daniel tied the knot in. (Margrethe's tiara has Swedish connections too, being one of the many pieces of Danish royal jewelry that came over from Sweden.) Anne-Marie also brought her rubies, something of a surprise as she often opts for her emeralds at the biggest occasions, and Alexia wore her diamond tiara which she always wears.

Princesses Benedikte, Alexandra, and Nathalie of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg; Carina Axelsson
Over in the other arm of the extended Danish royal family, the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburgs emptied out the jewel vault in the fashion they usually do: the Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg Fringe for Benedikte (this is her version of the big gun), the Floral Tiara with its small central emerald for Alexandra, the Star and Spike Tiara for Nathalie, and the spikey diamond tiara we normally see on Carina.

Queen Sofia, Princess Letizia, Infanta Elena, and Infanta Cristina of Spain
From Spain, we had a slight tiara shakeup as Cristina wore the Cartier Diamond and Pearl Tiara for the first time. As much as I loved it on her, it made me crave more tiara fun from the rest of the ladies who all brought typical tiaras (Sofia in the Mellerio Shell Tiara, Letizia in the Mellerio Floral Tiara, and Elena in the Marichalar Tiara). Wouldn't it have been fabulous if Sofia had gone for one of her bigger ones and shook things up even more down the line? See, you give me a little bit, and I just want more.

Queen Beatrix, Princess Máxima, and Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands; Princess Mabel of Orange-Nassau
Similarly, I have to say I ended up wanting more from the Dutch ladies too. Beatrix wore the Mellerio Ruby Tiara, Máxima came in the Rose Cut Diamond Bandeau, Laurentien opted for Queen Emma's Diamond Tiara (with a single ruby, which gives it something of a blemished Cyclops look), and Mabel stuck with the tiara she wore on her wedding day and on all of her tiara occasions to date. An impressive show, and yet greedy me wishes the generous lending policy of the family foundation had resulted in some new showings.

Queen Paola, Princess Mathilde, Princess Claire, and Princess Astrid of Belgium
A less impressive collection than the one in the Netherlands actually brought us one of the biggest surprises of the day: a brand new tiara! Belgium used most of what they have, with Paola in Queen Elisabeth's Diamond Bandeau, Mathilde in her one and only Laurel Wreath Tiara, and Astrid in her constant from her husband's family, the Savoy-Aosta Tiara. If I had to guess in advance which of these ladies would pop up in something new, I'd have told you Paola or Mathilde, but no - it was Claire! Her new diamond and pearl tiara made a second appearance in 2011 in Monaco, giving hope that it's here to stay.

The Countess of Wessex, Grand Duchess Maria Teresa of Luxembourg, Princess Sophie of Liechtenstein
Sophie made do with her usual wedding tiara (I like to think that expression says, "Why, guys? Why do you hate my tiara so?"), but Maria Teresa and the other Sophie delighted with appearances of two tiaras we don't see all that often: the Luxembourg Empire Tiara, a.k.a. the Mother of All Big Guns, and the Habsburg Fringe Tiara, a.k.a. the fringiest fringe that ever fringed.
Queen Rania, Princess Sarvath, and Princess Rym Ali of Jordan
No big guns at all from Jordan, which is sad. Sarvath and Rym both brought tiaras they've worn before, and they're perfectly lovely; my beef is with Rania here. The Boucheron Bracelet Tiara is just what it says - a bracelet! Tiara opportunities are so rare for her, I'm still sad she didn't seize the day and do it up right.
Crown Princess Margarita of Romania, Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia, Princess Kelly of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, Princess Anna of Bavaria
Last but not least, some non-reigning royal ladies brought a lovely selection of gems not so often seen for your viewing pleasure: Margarita in the Romanian Greek Key Tiara, Katherine in a diamond tiara which is surprising because she tends to go tiara-less (perhaps she made a one-time loan?), Kelly in a beautiful turquoise tiara that formerly belonged to her husband's great-grandmother, and Anna in a tall sunburst number that belongs to her mother-in-law Princess Ursula.

And so the question is...

Who wins this tiara battle?

Photos: Svenskdam/Billed-Bladet/CTK/Daylife

Week in Review: Princess Mathilde, 19-25 February

  1. On holiday with the family, 21 February.
Photo: Daylife

28 February 2012

Royal Splendor 101: Jewels for Queen Elizabeth's Crowning

In another installment on the coronation of Elizabeth II, today we're taking a look some of the items from the crown jewels that played a big role in the coronation ceremony. Not every piece in the crown jewels, mind you; we'll just touch on some of the items that were directly presented to or placed on Queen Elizabeth during that marathon ceremony in Westminster Abbey.

During the coronation, Queen Elizabeth was dressed in garments of cloth of gold which belong to the crown jewels. The Mantle - the outer robe shown above - was made for George IV in 1821 and is woven with various national emblems; the Supertunica underneath was made for George V in 1911. The Stole, at right, was made new for the 1953 coronation and incorporated plant and flower emblems from the Commonwealth just as the coronation gown did. The Spurs (shown here on the ground at the left) were also presented to the queen as a symbol of chivalry; they date from Charles II, 1660-61, as do most of the crown jewels which were recreated after the restoration of the monarchy.

The queen was presented with the Sovereign's Orb (above left) to carry, a hollow gold sphere decorated with hundreds of gems and made in 1661. The Armills (above center) were placed as bracelets on her wrists; these were newly made for the 1953 coronation and were a gift from the Commonwealth. They represent sincerity and wisdom. The Sovereign's Ring (above right), dating from 1831 and composed of rubies over a sapphire surrounded with diamonds, was placed on her finger.

Multiple swords are used during the coronation; the only one directly presented to the monarch is the Sword of Offering, elaborately jeweled and made for George IV in 1820. Two sceptres were presented to the queen to hold while she was crowned: the Sceptre with Dove (above on the top) and the Sceptre with Cross (above in the middle). Both were made in 1661, but the Sceptre with Cross was modified for the 1911 coronation to hold the First Star of Africa, also known as the Cullinan I diamond. The largest part of the famous Cullinan diamond is 530 carats (shown in the detail at right above).

The most significant object in the crown jewels is St. Edward's Crown, made in 1661. The gold crown is set with multiple types of stones including sapphire, amethyst, tourmaline, citrine, and topaz; the stones are set in white enamel acanthus leaf mounts. It is intended to be used only once in a reign: for the actual moment of crowning. All other events involving a crown traditionally use the second monarch's crown, the Imperial State Crown.
The queen after crowning, with her robes of gold, both sceptres, and St. Edward's Crown
King Edward VII is one of the exceptions to this rule; after his coronation was postponed once due to his ill health, he wasn't deemed well enough to bear the weight of the gold crown (a hefty 2.23 kilograms or 4.9 pounds). Thus, he was crowned with the Imperial State Crown and St. Edward's Crown was placed on top of his coffin when he passed away. It was also too heavy for Queen Victoria, and wasn't used by William IV or George IV either.

The most famous piece in the crown jewels is the Imperial State Crown (the front is left above, the back is center). Lighter than St. Edward's Crown at .91 kilograms or 2 pounds, it is easier to bear for its frequent use, which includes each State Opening of Parliament. It is set with over 3,000 stones, including several famous gems: the Second Star of Africa (also known as the Cullinan II, a 317 carat diamond shown in the top right detail above), the Black Prince's Ruby (which is actually a spinel with a small ruby plugging a hole, shown in the center detail), the Stuart Sapphire (bottom above), St. Edward's Sapphire, and pearls belonging to Elizabeth I. I'll let the lady herself explain the rest:
Because it is used so often, the crown has been redone several times. It received a major overhaul before the 1937 coronation of George VI - it was in such disrepair that the cross fell off during the funeral procession for George V. It had another makeover before the 1953 coronation, including lowering the arches to make it more feminine for Elizabeth II.

The Imperial State Crown, Armills, Orb, and Sceptre with Cross all feature prominently in Cecil Beaton's famous coronation portraits.
As I said, this has been no attempt to chronicle the entire stash of crown jewels - entire books have been written on that (if you're looking for a recommendation, Anna Keay's The Crown Jewels is a recent publication with gorgeous photos and readable text - an excellent starting point). But they're always worth a glance in any quantity, because such magnificent and historical items are rarely in use anywhere else.

Of course, the crown jewels are on display at the Tower of London, and are basically a must-see for royal fans and magpies alike. 

Photos: Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II/Anna Keay

Week in Review: Crown Princess Victoria, 19-25 February

  1. Receiving the President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, at the Royal Palace, 21 February. The brooch on Victoria's dress (shown in the detail, and identical to the one worn by Queen Silvia for this event) was a gift from President Halonen, who designed it herself. This was billed as Victoria's last engagement before maternity leave, and it's a good thing - the baby arrived straight away!
  2. Leaving the hospital with the new princess, 23 February.
The princess was born on Thursday, and on Friday her names and title were announced: Her Royal Highness Princess Estelle Silvia Ewa Mary, Duchess of Östergötland. (I'll just say this: man, I am glad I didn't have any money riding on that. Color me surprised!)
We finally have some pics of the little star, and her first fashion update too: her cardigan was knitted by her great-grandma Alice. Adorbs. We will have a little party in the future tiara-wearer's honor later this week. Stay tuned!

Photos: Lehtikuva/Kungahuset.se

Week in Review: Princess Letizia, 19-25 February

  1. Audience at Zarzuela Palace, 21 February.
  2. At a presentation of the works of Jose Ortega y Gasset, 23 February. Loved this little retro look the first time we saw it, when we couldn't see the dress underneath. Now, if anyone can pull off the "let me add 6 inches to my hips just for fun" look, it's Leti, but I'm still gonna say: let's keep the jacket on.
Photos: Zimbio

27 February 2012

Week in Review: Princess Charlene, 19-26 February

  1. a and b) At the graduation ceremony for the Monaco Red Cross, 21 February, in Akris.
  2. Attending a gala for Monaco Disease Power, 22 February. I'll have to cling to the wrap as my only source of non-blergh enjoyment.
  3. a) At a Montblanc event before the Oscars, 25 February, in b) Akris which she was careful to drain of all its color.
  4. a) Attending the Academy Awards, 26 February, in b) modified Akris. I just....why bother? You know? Go all the way to L.A., go through the whole show of walking the red carpet, and then just disappear in a far too casual and typical dress? Maybe she took some notes from some of the celebs that killed it last night.
Photos: Purepeople/Junior/BestImage/Palais Princier/Daylife/Getty Images/Zimbio/Style.com

Week in Review: The Duchess of Cambridge, 19-25 February

  1. Walking the dog, 20 February.
  2. Visiting schools for The Art Room, 21 February, in Orla Kiely. This is, like, half cute and half something Grandma that stopped shopping in 1978 might own. All I know is Grandma certainly wouldn't style it with SHOOTIES.
Because I know someone will object, let me define it for you:
  • SHOOTIES: Anything and everything from the almost-but-not-really-just-kidding shoe-ish things up to the not-boots calf highlighters. For use by those that find them all to be fug and don't care enough to differentiate. To be said with an intonation appropriate for greeting one's archnemesis and to be written in all caps for emphasis. 
Photos: Lehtikuva/Zimbio

26 February 2012

Sunday Brooch: Prince Albert's Sapphire

Next up in our series on Queen Elizabeth's brooches is one of her most famous and most important historical pieces: Prince Albert's Sapphire Brooch, also known as Queen Victoria's Wedding Brooch, or just the Albert if you're not feeling wordy.
Prince Albert presented this large oblong sapphire set in gold and surrounded by 12 round diamonds to Queen Victoria on February 9, 1840 - the day before their wedding. She duly wore her present from "dearest Albert" on their wedding day and frequently afterwards, up until Albert's death.
Left to right: Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra (the brooch is partly buried), Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth
Queen Victoria's obsessive love for her husband is well documented, so it isn't really a surprise that she left his brooch to the Crown in her will alongside other important pieces of state jewelry. It's been worn by queens ever since.
Queen Elizabeth II
Now in Queen Elizabeth's possession, she wears it often. Memorable appearances for the brooch include dinner with President and Mrs. Kennedy at Buckingham Palace in 1961 (left, above) and the christening of Prince William in 1982 (center, above).
Queen Elizabeth II
This one is notable for the size of the stones involved and the wonderful color of the sapphire in addition to its important history, but it's a classic shape and it's not alone in the brooch world. Albert later presented Victoria with another sapphire and diamond brooch similar to this one but smaller; Victoria left it to her daughter Helena. Princess Anne has a look-alike brooch, which Suzy Menkes posits in her book The Royal Jewels also comes from Prince Albert: she says that he had similar brooches made for each of his daughters, and this one was bought back by the queen when it came up for sale. It is possible, however, that Anne's brooch has a different provenance altogether.
Princess Anne and her replica brooch

Photos: Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II/Leslie Field/Daylife/Getty Images

24 February 2012

Flashback Friday: The Queen's Coronation Gown

For the most important outfit of her reign and what was essentially her second wedding dress, Queen Elizabeth returned to the man that made her first and would shape her look for decades to come: Norman Hartnell. With instructions to create a regal gown for the ages, Hartnell began a back-and-forth design process with the queen. Pure white was out in favor of color; form-fitting sheaths were discarded in favor of less body-conscious options; simplicity was rejected in favor of symbolism from around the United Kingdom, which was in turn rejected in favor of symbolism from all around the Commonwealth.

After diligent research on past coronation gowns and consultation with the symbolism authorities (during which he was forced to learn that the Welsh leek could not be substituted for the daffodil, no matter how much prettier he thought it might be), and nine proposals to the queen, Hartnell had a design.
The coronation gown was created from white satin made from fibers from the silk farm at Lullingstone Castle. Short sleeves and a heart-shaped neckline tapered down to the monarch's tiny waist, with the full skirt flaring out from below and ending in a slight train at the back. On to this base of a dress came the real star of the show: the embroidery. Seed pearls and crystals created a lattice-work background for floral emblems in pastel silks and gold and silver threads.
Every country in the Commonwealth at the time was represented: the Tudor rose for England, the thistle for Scotland, the leek for Wales, the shamrock for Ireland (despite the fact that by that time only Northern Ireland remained), wattle for Australia, the maple leaf for Canada, the fern for New Zealand, protea for South Africa, lotus flowers for both India and Ceylon, and Pakistan's wheat, cotton, and jute. Unbeknownst to the queen, a single four leaf clover was added on the left of the dress, just where her hand would brush throughout the day. In order to carry and distribute the weight of all the embroidery, the dress was lined in taffeta and three layers of horsehair.
After eight months of work, the gown was delivered to the queen three days ahead of the coronation; she declared it to be "glorious". Queen Elizabeth actually wore her glorious gown six more times after Coronation Day: for receptions at Buckingham Palace and the Palace of Holyroodhouse as well as Parliament openings during her coronation tour in New Zealand, Australia, and Ceylon in 1954 and Canada in 1957.
At left, on the way to be crowned; at right, after returning to Buckingham Palace
The queen accessorized her dress with Queen Victoria's "coronation" necklace and earrings, commissioned by Victoria in 1858 and worn by queens at each coronation since Edward VII's in 1902. She departed for the coronation carrying a bouquet and wearing the Robe of State at her shoulders and the George IV State Diadem on her head. She returned in the Robe of Purple Velvet plus the Imperial State Crown and other pieces from the crown jewels - more on those later.
The coronation necklace and earrings and the George IV State Diadem
Queen Elizabeth's robes were among the other garments commissioned for the coronation. Norman Hartnell also created a simple pleated white linen covering added over the gown for the anointing.
L to R: the linen covering, the Robe of State, the Purple Robe of Estate
Both robes were new and created with hand-woven velvet made from silk from the same silk farm as the dress. The 18 foot crimson Robe of State was lined in ermine with gold lace and filigree work around the edges. It weighs more than 15 pounds and was worn arriving to the coronation; this is the robe used by the queen for each State Opening of Parliament. Special to the coronation, the 21 foot Purple Robe of Estate featured an ermine border and cape with a white silk lining. The Royal School of Needlework put 3,500 hours into the gold embroidery. The queen departed the coronation wearing this robe, and it is the one that features in all of the official photographs.
The maids of honor, L to R: Lady Moyra Hamilton, Lady Anne Coke, Lady Jane Vane-Tempest-Stewart, Lady Mary Baillie-Hamilton, Lady Jane Heathcote-Drummond-Willoughby and Lady Rosemary Spencer-Churchill
Hartnell was also commissioned to make the outfits for the queen's 6 maids of honor, all single aristocratic girls who were in charge of managing and carrying the heavy train via invisible silk handles. Smelling salts were sewn into their gloves as their dresses featured tight waists, the ceremony was long, and the pressure was high. Each wore white satin gowns with pearl blossom and golden leaf embroidery with gold tissue wreaths of forget-me-nots, freesia, and heather. They were the perfect accompaniment to the star of the show and her magnificent gown. 

Do you think Hartnell succeeded in his mission to create an iconic gown? 

Photos: Norman Hartnell/The Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II/Victoria and Albert Museum/Daily Mail

23 February 2012

Tiara Thursday: The Noor-ol-Ain Tiara

The jewel collection of Iran's former monarchy is kind of fascinating: it's huge in number of pieces and in size of individual stones, and it's filled with unique designs. Today's tiara is perhaps the single most valuable piece in the collection, and it's an excellent example of what the rest of the collection holds.
The Noor-ol-Ain Tiara
The Noor-ol-Ain Tiara is all about its centerpiece: the Noor-ol-Ain diamond. Noor-ol-Ain can be translated as Eye of Light (you'll also see it spelled a variety of different ways, by the way). It is one of the largest pink diamonds in the world: around 60 carats in an oval shape. And like many notable historical diamonds, its history isn't exactly storybook reading: thought to have been mined at the Golconda mines in India, it was part of the spoils taken by the conqueror Nader Shah as payment for retreating from his invasion and subsequent plundering of Delhi a few years after he became the Shah of Iran in 1736.
The Darya-ye Noor in its setting
The Noor-ol-Ain may have originally been part of a larger diamond known as the Great Table Diamond; if true, its sister stone is the Darya-ye Noor diamond (Sea or Ocean of Light) which is a pink diamond around 180 carats also brought to Iran by Nader Shah and currently in the Iranian crown jewels.
The Noor-ol-Ain was incorporated into a new tiara for the 1959 wedding of the Shah of Iran and Farah Diba. Designed by Harry Winston, the tiara includes 324 total stones, a combination of pink, yellow, and white diamonds set in platinum. Most of them are over 14 carats and with all that carat weight, it's even heavier than you'd guess - it's said to be in the neighborhood of 2 kilograms (more than 4 pounds)!
It's an unusual tiara, but it's a fair representation of what the rest of the Iranian collection is like. Many of the tiaras are colored stones and many have unusual shapes or arrangements of stones. This is not a collection of boring tiaras, at least. This one is particularly interesting to me because it has that same Monet quality to it as Queen Alia's Cartier Tiara: up close, it's not what it seemed from far away. From far away, it looks like a white diamond tiara in a fairly traditional, albeit especially diamond-dense, design. It's only when you get up close that you realize the diamonds are colored and the setting is modern - the base isn't even the same old straight line.
Farah wore the tiara throughout her years as Queen consort and then Empress of Iran and she will perhaps be the only person to ever wear the tiara. When the Shah and his family went into exile in 1979, Farah did not take big jewels with her; most of the tiaras and so forth belonged to the crown jewels, and so were not her property. Today, the Iranian crown jewels are on display at the National Treasury of Iran in the Central Bank in Tehran.

What do you make of this unusual tiara?

Photos: Geoffrey Munn/Rex Features/Corbis

Week in Review: Crown Princess Mette-Marit, 12-18 February

  1. At the opening of the exhibit "Royal Journeys 1905-2005" with the rest of the royal family, 15 February.
  2. a - c) In Geneva for working meetings with UNAIDS, 16 and 17 February.
I regret to bring Princess Märtha Louise's exhibit opening footwear to your attention:
Reflective SHOOTIES. Well, I never. And with big ol' stretchy black panels, just for extra aesthetic pizzazz.
But hey, those outfits look familiar!

Photos: Daylife/Getty Images

22 February 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Empress Farah's Gown

HIM The Shah of Iran and Farah Diba
December 21, 1959
Tehran, Iran

By 1959, Mohammed Reza Pahlavi was in a bit of a desperate situation - he needed a wife. Well, he needed a son, to be more accurate, as only men could inherit his throne and he had no heir. An unsuccessful first marriage to Princess Fawzia of Egypt ended with one daughter; his second marriage to Soraya Esfandiary-Bakhtiari ended in 1958 when it became clear she couldn't bear children; reported interest in marrying Princess Maria Gabriella of Savoy had been shot down by Pope John XXIII.
Lucky for the Shah, 1959 was also the year in which he stumbled upon just the girl to solve the Great Matter for him. While in Paris he held one of his customary meetings with Iranian students studying abroad and was introduced to Farah Diba. By November they were engaged, and in December they married. Farah was 21; the Shah was 40.
For her wedding dress, Farah returned to France and sought out Yves Saint Laurent, then the designer for Dior. (The friendship between the empress and the fashion icon would last the rest of Saint Laurent's life.) The dress itself featured a scoop neck, with a modest coat to go over top. The whole affair was embroidered with Persian motifs depicted in sequins, imitation pearls, and silver thread. The train had a distinctive fur-lined hem; unseen, blue was sewn in to some of the hems as a sort of a good luck charm for the birth of a boy.
To go with her dress, Farah wore the Noor-ol-Ain Tiara containing one of the world's largest pink diamonds as well as a selection of other pieces from the Iranian crown jewels.
After her marriage, Queen Farah dispensed quickly with the pressure to produce a son by delivering a crown prince in less than a year. Three more children would follow - two girls and a second boy. Farah was initially quite popular; she didn't restrict herself to a purely ceremonial role as queen and dug in to some real issues. The Shah showed his appreciation for all she'd done in 1967 by crowning her Empress, or Shahbanou, of Iran in an elaborate ceremony. She was the first of his wives to earn that title, and indeed the first to carry it in modern Iran. The Shah even took it a step further by naming her Empress Regent in the event that he died before their son was old enough to rule on his own - an unusual promotion for a female in the region.
But as with all things, backlash ensued. Farah was criticized for excess, particularly in her coronation and in the lavish celebrations for the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian Empire in 1971. Unrest was building in Iran as a whole against the imperial government, and the imperial family fled the country in 1979.
Farah's coronation
Life in exile has not been kind to Farah. The Shah died of cancer in 1980. Her youngest child, Princess Leila, was found dead after an overdose in 2001; her youngest son, Prince Ali-Reza, committed suicide in 2011. Today, Farah splits her time between Paris and the U.S., and we get to see her occasionally at big royal events where she is always impeccably turned out.

What do you make of Farah's wedding gown?

Photos: Topfoto/Rex Features