17 January 2018

Jewelry Additions from the Royal Gift List, 2017

It's time once again for the annual release of the royal gift lists for the previous year - and, of course, our scouring of those reports and lists to see if any sneaky jewelry items we didn't know about made the lists. Might not hit on any such luck this time around...

Reported lists of The Queen’s official gifts for 2017 include such treasures as glitter ball Christmas ornaments from the German president and the Union Flag from Major Tim Peake's spacesuit, but seem to be fairly jewel-free. We do know that she accepted a new garnet brooch from the Czech president.

The Duchess of Cornwall’s lists are low on jewelry as well, and seem to include mainly small items like a necklace from an individual while on tour in Canada. Her overseas travel in 2017 included a trip to Brunei, where her gift from The Sultan and The Raja Isteri was a handbag and The Prince of Wales received a set including wristwatch, a pair of cufflinks, a ring, and a ball point pen. Both received medals for The Sultan’s Golden Jubilee.

Charles and Camilla both picked up a tremendous amount of books, on a non-jewel note. And scarves, which are always a popular royal gift. The Princess Royal picked up 12 scarves in addition to 8 brooches and an array of other gifts during her busy working year.

The Duchess of Cambridge received a number of likely smaller items as well, including three pairs of earrings from individuals in Poland and Germany, a brooch and charm bracelet from an individual in Luxembourg, and a necklace accepted on her behalf by Prince William from a member of the public in Finland. She also received an amber necklace from the Mayor of Gdańsk, and a picture was published of that. The Duke of Cambridge received amber cufflinks.
The Duchess of Cambridge's amber necklace from Gdańsk
Grzegorz Mehring/www.gdansk.pl

Articles about the gift lists can be found in many places, including this PA article and this Birmingham Mail article.

About official gifts: Official gifts are those received during an official engagement or in connection with an official royal role. These gifts are not the private property of the royal recipient. Members of the royal family can use these gifts for their lifetime (and some, depending on the type of gift and its value, can be given to charity or staff or consumed, as in the case of food); on their death, they are passed to the monarch, who will decide if they should become part of the Royal collection or continue to be used by the deceased's successors. The official gift policy was created in 2003 following issues with distribution of gifts; it can be read here

14 January 2018

Highlights from The Coronation


It took the filmmakers 22 years to get the palace to agree to a sit down with The Queen to discuss, on camera, her recollections of her coronation. The result is the BBC's new documentary, The Coronation - airing on the BBC and the Smithsonian Channel (so far) - and it was pretty delightful.

All parties are careful to characterize Alastair Bruce's time with The Queen as a "conversation" and not an interview; he was not supposed to pose direct questions to the monarch. Still, the dry wit of her responses and the casual ease with which she handled her crowns were the most entertaining parts of the hour. A few highlights:


A smiling explanation that "your neck would break" if the crown slipped off, accompanied by her general (and slightly cheeky) ease in manhandling the Imperial State Crown:



She poked at Elizabeth I's dangling pearls on the crown and declared them "quite sad" looking; "Pearls," she noted, "are sort of living things. They need warming up and these have just been hanging here." She prefers the view including the Black Prince's Ruby and declared the Stuart Sapphire to be unfortunately pale but rather useful, given that it helps tell which side is the front and which is the back. A retelling of the story of the cutting of the Cullinan Diamond earned a casual gesture towards the "chips" - the Cullinan III and IV Brooch - on her shoulder. The Queen speculated that they might not have been reunited since they were cut. (That's an interesting question to ponder, how often the major Cullinan pieces have been in the same room; Queen Mary's Crown used at the 1911 coronation included both Cullinans III and IV.) Incidentally, we have Alastair Bruce to thank for that brooch selection; it was his request, as was the blue dress to contrast with the red of the room. He details that in this audio interview. (H/t to OrangeChia!)


Meanwhile, St. Edward's Crown was tested to see if it was just as heavy as she remembered (it was), and was entertainingly poked and prodded just after it was noted that Her Maj is one of only three people allowed to touch it.


Viewing footage of her coronation at Buckingham Palace, The Queen delivered an entertaining round of one-liners. A succinct assessment of the experience of riding in the Gold State Coach: "Horrible." A reaction to learning that the Crown Jewels were hidden under Windsor Castle during World War II, some key stones pried out and hidden in a biscuit tin: "Did he remember where he put them? Because he might have died in the middle." A recollection of what the children were doing on coronation day: "No idea, I wasn't there."

An enjoyable - and rare! - hour, all in all. Did you have a chance to watch The Coronation?

It is available to view on the BBC's iPlayer, for those with access. The Smithsonian Channel aired it in the U.S. In Australia, ABC will air it on February 4th. I'm sure other methods of watching will pop up as well.

Church at Sandringham

The Queen and members of The Royal Family attended church at Sandringham, Norfolk.
Embed from Getty Images

The Modern Ruby Brooch looks so different from this angle, no? Almost got my hopes up for something new...

07 January 2018

Church at Sandringham

The Queen and members of The Royal Family attended church at Sandringham, Norfolk.
Embed from Getty Images

We've got our first brooch-in-the-wild sighting of 2018, and it's pink! May this bring us a colorful brooch year from here on out.

03 January 2018

Upcoming Documentary: The Coronation (Plus, a Serious Brooch Appearance!)

The BBC is set to air The Coronation this month, a special documentary telling the story of the coronation and the Crown Jewels. The documentary will feature something rare: thoughts from The Queen herself, in conversation with expert Alastair Bruce.

The Queen with Alastair Bruce
BBC
"I've seen one coronation, and been the recipient in the other, which is pretty remarkable," The Queen says as she shares memories of her own 1953 coronation in addition to memories from her father's 1937 coronation.

This documentary doesn't just give us a rare opportunity to hear The Queen's personal thoughts as the 65th anniversary of her coronation approaches; it gives us a rare opportunity to see "Granny's Chips" in action.

The Queen with St. Edward's Crown
BBC
Cullinans I and II are contained within the Crown Jewels she'll be discussing, so The Queen chose to round out the collection by wearing the Cullinan III & IV Brooch for this documentary appearance. The last time the brooch was worn was in 2012, for the Diamond Jubilee Thanksgiving Service. This blue dress is the perfect background for this spectacular carat display, and I think we're pretty lucky to see this brooch in use twice in six years!

On a related note, here's an old video of The Queen speaking about the Imperial State Crown:

The Coronation airs on the BBC on January 14th at 8 pm. It is part of the Royal Collection Season, a partnership between the BBC and Royal Collection Trust, which will also include a four-part television series, Art, Passion & Power: The Story Of The Royal Collection. The Smithsonian Channel will also air The Coronation on January 14th at 8 pm Eastern. It will air along with several other royal documentaries that day (h/t to scott).

01 January 2018

2017: The Year in The Queen's Jewels

It's time! We're here to wrap up the year in The Queen's jewels, for the sixth year in a row. (Previously: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012.) Big brooch tally stuff, new stuff, rare stuff, tiara stuff, other stuff:

The Most Popular Brooches 
The Queen wore no fewer than 65 different brooches and badges this year, which - believe it or not  - has proved to be about average in the years I've been counting. Just one appearance is all it takes to separate the spots at the top of her most worn list. These are 2017’s most worn brooches (as always, this count is pulled from those public appearances cataloged here which included a brooch with a generally agreed upon identification):



Singapore’s gold and diamond gift to The Queen has been inching its way up the favorites list since its 2012 debut. It finally smashed its way to the top in 2017 - managing to run her old gold favorite, the Frosted Sunflower Brooch, off the road along the way.

The New Brooches
We know of two brand new brooches added to The Queen’s collection in 2017, a Czech garnet brooch gifted by the Czech President and the Sapphire Jubilee Snowflake Brooch from Canada. Both are still awaiting their public debuts.

The Rare Brooches
Embed from Getty Images
While this year didn’t really see any "new" mystery brooches appear, we did get new looks at several rare brooches:
--We finally got a great view of Queen Mary’s Thistle Brooch, worn in Scotland
--I didn’t think we’d ever see the Diamond Swan Brooch again, but it’ll reappear for a documentary to be aired in 2018.
--The Queen Mother’s Lily Brooch also reappeared in a new portrait this year. 
--We got a reminder that there are even more floral brooches in Her Maj’s stash when the Diamond Rose of York Brooch reappeared. 

The Most Significant Brooches of the Year
In the year of Canada’s 150th anniversary of Confederation, the Maple Leaf Brooch was bound to have a few appearances, and it sure did: three, or four if you want to count the January 1st message for the anniversary which was filmed alongside 2016’s Christmas message (and if you count that one, you can add the Maple Leaf into the tie for 4th place in this year’s brooch race). The Australian Wattle Brooch racked up an unusual three appearances of its own this year. (We even got an appearance of the New Zealand Fern Brooch in 2017, for the Commonwealth realm hat trick.) In the year of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh’s platinum wedding anniversary, the Grima Ruby Brooch – a gift from Philip – seemed to be the designated symbol, appearing in their anniversary portraits as well as another occasion.

The Tiara Appearances
We ran a little low on tiaras in Britain in 2017. There were only two tiara appearances for The Queen, and since one was the Diplomatic Reception with no chance to see what she wore, we’re really down to just one: the Spanish state banquet in July. (But oh, what an appearance it was!) Two other appearances that would usually have included some sparkly headgear opted out in 2017: the State Opening of Parliament was in “dressed down” mode and Her Maj chose day dress for May’s Order of the British Empire Service.

The Loans of the Year
The past few years have seen the vaults open more and more for loans to other ladies in the Royal Family (as you'll see if you browse through our past yearly reviews). The Duchess of Cambridge seriously cleaned up in the loan department in 2017, debuting multiple new-to-her pieces:

The Queen's work load may be slowing down a bit, but the jewel action is powering full speed ahead. With a royal wedding and a new royal in-law added to the fold in 2018, I'm excited for another year of tracking the vault happenings. A sincere thanks and Happy New Year to all of you who join in the fun here!

What was your favorite sparkly moment in The Queen's year?

31 December 2017

Church at Sandringham

The Queen and members of The Royal Family attended church at Sandringham, Norfolk.
Embed from Getty Images

I was all set to publish my year in review post with the 2017 tally of Her Maj's brooches this week, and then I realized that we were going to get one last appearance before the end of the year! So here it is, and...no brooch. Couldn't resist one last opportunity to troll us in 2017, could she?

Queen Mary's Button Earrings

Anyhoo, that review post will be up tomorrow!