The Jubilee Windows at Harrods

Yesterday, we reviewed the Jubilee events to look forward to in the upcoming week. We’ll have a fun time recounting them as they unfold, but in the meantime, let’s talk about the famed windows of Harrods department store which have recently been done up for the Jubilee. The department store recently had quite the Jubilee party, as you can see here:

In our recent post on the Queen’s coronation gown designed by Norman Hartnell, we shared a picture of a replica of the gown that is currently on display in one of the Harrods windows. Here it is if you missed it:

One of our Royal Posters also took this photo of a window that features William at the BBQ with Prince Charles relaxing at the table. Love the apron and that is a clever use of those masks, we think!

Harry looked great in his William mask, which he wore during a race in Brazil in March:

Quite the jokester.

Another current Harrods window features the shoe design that the Duchess of Cambridge chose during her trip to Leicester with the Queen and Prince Philip.

Check out our post on that day out by clicking here. The Harrods website explains,

Designed for the Duchess as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the blue suede and lace creation by De Montfort University student Becka Hunt will be displayed in Harrods’ windows alongside five runner-up entries

Part of the deal was that the winning design would be worn by Kate – wonder when that will happen? Here’s design student Becka Hunt with her winning shoe:

Our final window is of a Jubilee street party. Love all that bunting. Very festive!

Happy Jubilee to Her Majesty the Queen! We’ll be updating the blog with our thoughts on the Jubilee celebrations as they unfold. Hope you join us!

Diamond Jubilee Preparations and Festivities

This weekend, the Diamond Jubilee celebrations will be in full force and we’re really looking forward to the festivities. Here is a roundup of the key events as well as some pictures we took of how things are shaping up in London…

Key Jubilee Events

On Saturday, June 2, the Queen will attend the Epsom Derby. While this isn’t an official Jubilee event, hopefully some more of her family will join her in some fantastic hats for us to gossip about.

Here’s a snapshot from last year’s Derby to tide us over for now:

On Sunday June 3rd, a procession of over 1,000 ships will glide down the river Thames, which apparently was an idea inspired by a Canaletto painting. The flotilla will begin at 2pm from Chelsea Pier and will culminate at Tower Bridge two hours later at 4pm.  The massive planning that must have been behind this is mind boggling…

The official website explains:

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant celebrates Her Majesty’s 60 years of service by magnificently bringing the Thames to life; making it joyously full with boats, resounding with clanging bells, tooting horns and sounding whistles; recalling both its royal heritage and its heyday as a working, bustling river.

You can read more on the official website by clicking here. In any event, the Queen will be joined on the Royal Barge by the most senior members of the Royal Family in terms of succession; the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry. Other members of the family will be on other barges and the Middleton family has been included as well.

This photograph of the Queen in front of the brand new Royal Barge, which has appropriately been named Gloriana.

Another close up:

And here it is in action:

This will be a really interesting event to see unfold. Fingers crossed for good weather!

On Monday, June 4, the fun continues with a televised concert at Buckingham Palace attended by 10,000 members of the public. There will be a picnic before the concert begins at 7:30. Performers include Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney.

One of our Royal Posters is in London and took photos of the preparations underway front of the palace today.

That big star burst will be the roof of the stage that has been set up around the wedding cake (aka the memorial to Queen Victoria). Look closely to see the blue bleachers set up around it. The people who didn’t get tickets will be able to listen to the concert in nearby Hyde Park and St. James’ Park.

A close up of the roof! Again, fingers crossed for good weather….

On Tuesday, June 5th there will be a service of Thansgiving at St. Paul’s Cathedral at 10:30am.

After the service, there will be a reception at Guildhall which will be attended by the Royal Family. There will then be a formal carriage procession down the Mall, and the Queen will again be joined by the most senior members of the Royal Family in terms of succession.

At 3:30 pm, the Queen, Duke of Edinbburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and Prince Harry will appear on the Buckingham Palace Balcony (whoohoo!) for the RAF fly past. Interesting that no other members of the family are listed – they really are trying to just focus on the line of succession, just as Prince Charles has been rumoured to be keen to do. We’re really looking forward to that – and it will be the third Buckingham Palace balcony appearance for Kate. Not too shabby!

Other Random Preparations

Our royal poster got this great snapshot of some guards practicing their march in St.James’ Park:

Gardeners in the park were hard at work constructing this massive plant crown thing. Gotta love that!


And we took a picture of it all finished as well – lovely!

UPDATE: We have some more info on this. The Royal Parks website explains:

In honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee The Royal Parks, London today installed a four metre tall floral crown in St. James’s Park. The crown, which took five weeks to construct and weighs approximately five tonnes, sparkles with the brilliant blooms of 13,500 plants in the colours of the precious stones in the crown The Queen wore on her coronation day. In the next couple of days our gardeners will be adding a plump red cushion of flowers as the final floral flourish

Click on the red letter to see our post on the Jubilee windows of Harrods department store. The Jubilee count down is on!!

Royal Designer Norman Hartnell Part Four: Princess Margaret’s Wedding Dress

Before we get too busy with all of the upcoming Jubilee events later this week, we thought we’d finally get to our fourth post on royal designer Norman Hartnell. Today, we’re all about Princess Margaret’s wedding dress. If you missed our past posts on Mr. Hartnell, click here to catch up! He’s quite a gem in our books.

Naturally, there was much anticipation and fanfare ahead of the May 6, 1960 wedding of Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones. Norman Hartnell was commissioned to design the bride’s wedding dress, and it was to be his last significant gown for a State occasion.

The bride knew that she wanted clean and simple lines, and originally the dress wasn’t going to have the full skirt that she ended up with. Several layers of tulle created this fullness, and a lot of technical work was done by the Hartnell seamstresses to make it flow ‘just so.’ The result was a sophisticated gown that was a great choice for the petite Margaret. We think that this dress still looks amazing over forty years later, and chose this gown as one of our top ten royal wedding dresses ever. Click here to check out that post.

Notably, Hartnell designed the dress to split at the back of the skirt, so that the Princess wouldn’t crush it too badly while she was riding to Westminster Abbey. Too bad the Emmanuel’s didn’t think of that when they designed Lady Diana’s dress, which was famously crushed in the carriage en route to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Princess Margaret was accompanied to the chuch by her brother-in-law Prince Philip, who gave her away.We get a good look at the Poltmore Tiara in this photograph. And, yes, that’s Prince Philip even though it doesn’t really look like him here:

Looks like that skirt opening came in handy here, too:

Lovely family photo:

Decades later, Princess Margaret’s daughter-in-law Serena Stanhope used this dress as inspiration for her own wedding gown. She married Viscount Linley on October 8, 1993. The silhouette, neckline, and long sleeves are all very reminiscent of Margaret’s dress:

She also kept the 1960’s big hair:

We also have an upcoming post featuring Princess Alexandra of Denmark’s 1995 wedding dress, which seems to have taken some cues from Princess Margaret’s gown as well. Stay tuned for that!

Margeret’s dress has been on display over the years so fortunately we have some more great photos of it:

So, what do you think of this Norman Hartnell dress? Has it held the test of time?

Our other Norman Hartnell posts inspired by the book Be Dazzled! Norman Hartnell 60 Years of Glamour and Flash can be found below, and if you’d liked to pick up a copy of the book, it can be found here.

Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation Dress

Princess Elizabeth’s Wedding Dress

Norman Hartnell’s Career

Princess Athena of Denmark’s Christening

Last week, Princess Estelle of Sweden wasn’t the only European princess to be christened. Princess Athena of Denmark, daughter of Prince Joachim and Princess Marie, was also christened on May 20, albeit in a slightly more low-key ceremony. The baby princess is currently tenth in line to the succession of the Danish throne.

As we discussed in our post after the new Princess was born (click here for a refresher), the name of Danish royal babies is not revealed until their christening day, so it was a bit of a thrill to hear the princesses full name. Her full name is: Her Highness Princess Athena Marguerite Francoise Marie of Denmark, Countess of Monpezat. As many publications have pointed out, Athena is the name of the goddess of wisdom while Marguerite is the French spelling of Queen Margrethe’s name and Francoise in Marie’s mother’s name. Marie, of course, is after Princess Marie.

What a poppet!

Princess Athena wore the same christening gown that her brother Prince Henrik wore. The Danish Monarchy’s official website explains:

 The gown is of cream-coloured Jacquard-woven Swiss cotton sewn in Empire cut. The christening gown is made with small pleats on the upper part, the bottom of the sleeves and on the skirt. On the back, the gown is fitted with buttons.Cotton lace is used to border the collar and sleeves, along the front of the gown’s breast and between the small pleats on the skirt.The christening gown has a removable petticoat in pink silk.The bonnet is also of cream-coloured Jacquard-woven Swiss cotton, bordered with cotton lace and fitted with a pink tie-string in silk.

The christening gown was made by Henrik Hviid, H.H. Design, and was used for the first time at His Highness Prince Henrik’s christening in 2009.

 There were lovely flowers in the church, which the monarchy’s website details. The site explains:

On the door into the church’s vestibule are four hearts, the large ones made of hydrangeas and the small ones made of sea lavenders.

The pews are decorated with half-circles of small pink-coloured polyantha roses.

The church’s baptismal font is covered with a wreath of peonies, roses, eustoma (lisianthus), polyantha roses and various types of greenery.

The altar rail is adorned with a vegetative decoration, which looks like it is growing up the front balusters. The decoration consists of peonies, roses, snapdragons, lisianthus and eucalyptus.

It was a real family affair. Prince Joachim’s two sons Prince Nikolai and Prince Felix (from his first marriage to Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg) arrived with their grandparents Queen Margrethe and Prince Henrik:

Princess Mary and Prince Frederik were also there with their two oldest children, Prince Christian (the future King of Denmark) and Princess Isabella. Toddlers Prince Vincent and Princess Josephine are too young to join in.

This is a lovely shot as well:

Princess Athena’s godparents include two of her maternal uncles as well as three close friends of Marie’s. The most interesting addition to the godparent roster to me was the inclusion of Carina Axxelson, the long time girlfriend of Gustav, hereditary prince of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg (and Prince Joachim’s first cousin). Here she is at the christening with a broken ankle situation:

She and Princess Marie have become friends:

As for why she and Prince Gustav haven’t married, it seems that the Prince’s grandfather left a completely archaic stipulation in his will that his heir (Prince Gustav) had to marry a Protestant woman of noble descent to retain his inheritance. Miss Axxelson is neither of those things (she is a Roman Catholic who grew up in Northern California), so she makes do living at the palace (Schloss Berleberg). She also wears a ruby ring on her wedding finger and has been loaned three different tiaras to wear to various occasions.  She has been known to refer to herself as a princess in interviews which raises eyebrows, but whatever else she certainly makes for good royal gossip!

Here’s one of the tiaras:

And another:

And another:

My, I did get side tracked didn’t I?? Better end with a final shot of Princess Athena:

To read more on the Danish Royal Family’s christening gowns, click here.

The Greek Emerald Parure Tiara

The second of our emerald tiaras for the month of May, the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara!

The Greek Emerald Parure Tiara

This tiara’s history begins in 1867, when Her Imperial Highness Grand Duchess Olga Constantinovna of Russia arrived in Greece to marry King George I. She brought with her a set of cabochon emeralds in varying sizes, and during her lifetime Queen Olga of Greece wore those emeralds in a variety of settings – in her kokoshnik, as pendants on a necklace, and as brooches.

Upon Queen Olga’s death in 1926 her emeralds passed to her grandson, King George II, and his wife Queen Elisabeth of Greece decided to really use the emeralds. She wore it as a single emerald in a bandeau low across her forehead, which was in fashion at the time, and she also had several emeralds set in a diamond frame. However, Queen Elisabeth eventually decided to have a new tiara commissioned by Cartier that was quite similar to a tiara that was owned by her sister, Queen Maria of Yugoslavia. This tiara is in the style of the kokosnik tiara, and features 5 cabuchon emeralds set between stylized ‘E’’s made out of diamonds, in honour of Elisabeth’s name.

Queen Elisabeth and King George II ended up divorced with no children after a period of exile. The tiara remained in the Greek Royal Family, and it makes its next appearance on Queen Frederika, the wife of King Pavlos, the younger brother of King George II.

Queen Frederika loved the emeralds, and wore them on a regular basis, both as a tiara, or as a necklace in combination with other tiaras in the Greek Royal family. Queen Frederika altered the tiara and removed the band at the top and bottom of the tiara, making it the tiara that exists today. Queen Frederika also completed the elements of the parure, making use of the remaining cabochon emeralds in a pair of drop emerald earrings, a large brooch with multiple mirrored diamond ‘E’s and more emeralds, and 5 single emerald drops which can be suspended from any necklace, or suspended from the brooch.

Queen Frederika passed the full parure to the wife of her son King Constantine II upon his marriage in 1946 to HRH Princess Anne-Marie Dagmar Ingrid of Denmark.

The new Queen Anne-Marie, who was married to King Constantine II just two weeks after her 18th birthday, is the youngest sister of Queen Margarethe II of Denmark, and the cousin of King Carl Gustav of Sweden. (See our most recent tiara post on the Danish Emerald Parure, for Queen Anne-Marie’s sister Queen Margarethe II of Denmark in more fabulous emeralds!) King Constantine II, Queen Anne-Marie and their children went into exile in 1976, and King Constantine was official deposed in 1973 when Greece declared itself a republic. The majority of the jewels of the Royal Family of Greece remained their property even after the monarch was abolished, and this is true of the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara.

Queen Anne-Marie has worn the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara frequently, both with the full parure, and with the tiara by itself or parts of the parure separately. She seems especially fond of the brooch, which she often suspends from a necklace she was given by her mother, Queen Ingrid of Denmark, which she received from Queen Alexandrine of Denmark. Queen Ingrid separated the necklace into two pieces, one of which she gave to Anne-Marie, and the other to her sister Princess Benedikte of Denmark, Princess of Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg. Queen Anne-Marie has also worn the separate emerald drops suspended from the necklace.

You can really see the ‘E’ diamond motifs in the photo on the right.

Queen Anne-Marie and King Constantine II of Greece with daughter Princess Theodora of Greece and Denmark at the Gala in honour of HM Queen Margarethe’s 40th year on the throne of Denmark, 2010

What do you think of the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara?

See the Danish Emerald Parure for the first in our emerald tiara series for May.

Up next in emerald tiaras – The Emerald Parure of the Netherlands.

Princess Estelle of Sweden’s Christening

On May 22, Princess Estelle of Sweden was christened at the Royal Chapel in Stockholm. This was heralded as the biggest royal event in Sweden since her parent’s (Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel) wedding back in June of 2010. The service was broadcast live in Sweden, and the streets outside the chapel were filled with people hoping to catch a glimpse of baby Estelle:

Shortly after Princess Estelle was born, we took a look at the Swedish Royal Family’s christening traditions and unearthed a few adorable snapshots of christenings past. Click here if you missed that post As per tradition, the Royal Family’s silver baptismal font was used. It was commissioned in 1696 and took eleven years to complete. Before Princess Estelle’s christening, the last time this font was used was for Princess Madeleine’s christening in 1982. We can get a glimpse of it in this photograph below:

As well, Princess Estelle wore the same gown that has been in use by the Royal Family since 1906:

Here’s baby Princess Victoria in the gown in 1977:

The best part of this christening to me was seeing Princess Estelle wearing the Order of the Seraphim.

Adorable! She is the first royal infant to have been awarded the order since her grandfather King Carl Gustaf was at his christening in 1946. Here’s the then Prince Carl on his christening day…look closely to see the ribbon of the Order attached to his gown:

According to the Swedish Royal Family’s official website, the Order of the Seraphim is a Swedish Royal Order of Chivalry that dates back to 1748. It is awarded to members of the Swedish Royal Family as well as to foreign heads of state, or to people of comparable rank. The website also states that:

A Knight or Member should submit proposals regarding his Seraphim arms and a motto to the armorial painter to the Royal Orders.

On the death of a Knight or Member of the Order, his (her) coat of arms, designed in accordance with the above, will be mounted in Riddarholmen Church on the occasion of the funeral of the deceased Knight or Member.

The bells are tolled at Riddarholmen Church on the occasion of the funeral of a deceased Knight or Member.

Interesting…here is Princess Estelle’s Coat of Arms:

Prinsessan Estelle vapen.svg

Princess Victoria was wearing her Order of the Seraphim, and it appeared that a several other royal attendees were wearing their Orders for the occasion as well. The King and Queen were both wearing the Order:

As was Princess Madeleine:

Crown Prince Haakon of Norway was also wearing the Order. He’s pictured below on the far right with Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands on the far left (who was granted the Order of the Seraphim back in 2006; maybe he forgot to pack it?) and Crown Princes Mary of Denmark in the middle. These three Royals were all named godparents, just as we guessed they would back in February:

Here’s a closer shot of Mary and Haakon:

Prince Carl Philip (also wearing the Order) and Anna Westling Soderstrom (Prince Daniel’s sister) were also named godparents:

Prince Philippe and Princess Mathilde of Belgium were also there… and that is another Order of the Seraphim we spy. Prince Philippe was granted the Order in 2001:

Princess Maxima of the Netherlands, pictured here with Prince Frederick of Denmark and Princess Madeleine, looked divine in red:

On that note, we’ll leave you with this final picture of the future Queen of Sweden taken during the service:

Any thoughts on this delightful Royal occasion?

Royal Designer Norman Hartnell Part Three: The Coronation Gown

We are looking forward to seeing the royal barge travel down the Thames on June 2nd, so what better time to reminisce about the exquisite coronation gown that she wore 60 years ago? Queen Elizabeth’s coronation on June 2,1953 was naturally an enormous occasion and seeing as Norman Hartnell was the go-to designer for the Royal ladies, he was deeply involved and designed several gowns that were worn that day.

Of course, the Queen’s coronation gown was the most important of the day, but Hartnell also designed the dresses of Princess Alexandra, the Duchess of Kent, Princess Margaret, and the Queen Mother.

A lot of thought went into the new Queen’s coronation gown to make it a truly symbolic and landmark gown. Norman Hartnell submitted several designs, and the then Princess Elizabeth was deeply involved in the design process. At the Queen’s suggestion, the gown was ornately embroidered with the emblems of the Commonwealth countries. We thought that the Queen’s wedding dress had a lot of embroidery, but this one really takes the cake! As you can see in the picture below, the Irish shamrock, Scottish thistle, British Rose, New Zealand silver fern, Australian wattle, and Canadian maple leaf were all included, among others.

All of this beading made for a very heavy dress, and while it was being sewn together, Hartnell and his seamstresses could see that the weight was causing the skirt to hang in what he described as a “limp and disappointing nuance” according to the book Bedazzled! Norman Hartnell and Sixty Years of Fashion. How eloquent. This was fixed and “glorified into regal fullness by mounting it on an underskirt of ivory taffeta laced with bands of horsehair and further strengthened with countless strands of whalebone.”

Thank goodness it worked!

Here is the new Queen with Prince Philip, Princess Margaret, and the Queen Mother. This formal portrait was taken at Buckingham Palace after the ceremony:

.And we do love any and all royal balcony appearances:

Notably, the Queen didn’t just put the gown into storage, but has worn it several times since the Coronation which I think is pretty fantastic. This photograph was taken during a State Visit to Canada in 1957. The Queen wore the dress while reading the Speech from the Throne during the Opening of Parliament on October 14:

The Jubilee celebrations are well underway in London, and Harrods has gotten into the fun of things with some pretty spectacular window displays. One window is showing an exact replica of the Queen’s coronation dress. One Royal Poster took this photo of it over the weekend. It really gives a good sense of the amount of embroidery and beading involved:

So what do you think?? Next up, we’re chatting about Princess Margaret and her Norman Hartnell designed wedding dress. See you then!

Royal Designer Norman Hartnell Part Two: Princess Elizabeth’s Wedding Dress

In our last post on Norman Hartnell, we reviewed the major impact that Queen Elizabeth’s ‘white wardrobe’ had during her 1938 State Visit to France.

During the war years, Norman made very few original pieces due to restrictions, but he did help to update existing pieces owned by the Royal family. A major commission came in 1947, when he was asked to design the wedding dress for Princess Elizabeth’s marriage to Prince Philip of Greece.

Despite the numerous gowns he had created for society brides, the dress he came up with for the Princess was completely original and different from what he had designed before. It didn’t quite make our Top Ten Favourite Royal Wedding Dresses, but it is beautiful in it’s own way and for its time. Princess Elizabeth’s gown was was made of ivory duchess satin and had enhanced shoulders, long sleeves, a full skirt, and an elaborate 15-foot train.

The satin for the train came from Lullington Castle and the satin for the dress came from the Scottish firm Winterhur, which created quite a stir. According to the book Bedazzled! Norman Hartnell, Sixty Years of Glamour and Fashion, Hartnell explained, “I was told in confidence that certain circles were trying to stop the use of the Scottish satin on the grounds of Patriotism. The silk worms, they said, were Italian, and possibly even Japanese! Was I so guilty of treason that I would deliberately use enemy silkworms?” In the end, it was determined that the silk worms came from China so all was well. What a to do.

The dress was ornately embroidered with “garlands of star shaped lily heads and white York roses with orange blossoms and ears of corns.” Thousands of seed pearls and crystals were used. The pearls were brought in from the United States:

Here is a good look at the bodice:

In a write-up of the wedding, the New York Times reported that, “Her long embroidered train seemed at first to float behind her, but in walked two tiny creatures in Royal Stuart tartan kilts, Prince Michael of Kent on the left and Prince William of Gloucester on the right.”

There they are:

 Love this formal portrait

Norman also created all of the attendant’s gowns. Here is Princess Margaret looking lovely in her bridesmaids dress:

The wedding dress and attendant’s outfits have been put on display in recent years. These photographs reveal some of the details that aren’t so evident in the pictures from the actual wedding day:

Just in time for all of the upcoming Diamond Jubilee celebrations, we will next look at Princess Elizabeth’s Coronation Gown, which was all designed by Norman Hartnell. The wonderful book Be Dazzled! Norman Hartnell Sixty Years of Glamour and Flash which inspired this post can be found here.

UPDATED: Our post on the Norman Hartnell designed Coronation Gown can be found here and our post on his design for Princess Margaret’s wedding dress is here.


Royal Designer Norman Hartnell Part One

I’ve recently finished poring over the book Bedazzled! Norman Harnell Sixty Years of Glamour & Fashion by Michael Pick and highly recommend it. It highlights how Norman Hartnell led the charge to turn London into a fashion capital and has oodles of rarely seen pictures of the Queen to boot (you can pick up the book here).

Here’s the dashing fellow himself in front of his Bruton Street couture house: 

Norman Hartnell was born on June 12, 1901 and started his business on April 23, 1923.

According to Michael Pick, his first customers were the mothers and sisters of his friends from his days at Cambridge, where he studied Modern Languages. While at university, he also started designing costumes for plays and found he had quite a knack for it.

Here’s an example of one of his early designs. This dress is from 1924:

Fun Fact: each of Hartnell’s dresses were given a witty name, like “Grandma’s Garnet’s.” I’d like to think that the dress above was called something like “Cascading Crystals.”

The Royal Connection Begins, 1935

We recently touched on the 1935 wedding of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, to Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas Scott.  It was this wedding that brought Norman firmly into the Royal fold. When he heard about the impending wedding, Norman took the smart move of sending a letter to the bride asking for permission to submit designs for the wedding. Lady Alice took him up on the offer and came to see his work at his salon. She was so impressed with what she saw and chose him to design her dress as well as those of the bridesmaids. Two of her bridesmaids were Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret.

On the day of the wedding, he was asked to be at Buckingham Palace while the official wedding photos were taken at which point Queen Mary told him. “We are very pleased. We thing everything is very, very pretty.” He must have been all, “HECK YA!” at that.

Lady Alice’s dress was made in pale pink satin (her father had recently died so white wasn’t considered appropriate) and was beautifully draped:

The Duchess of York (the future Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mum) was impressed and asked him to start making clothes for her as well. In particular, he help build her wardrobe after the abdication crisis.

The 1938 State Visit to France 

The 30 outfits that Norman Hartnell designed for this significant trip became known as “The White Wardrobe.” The Queen’s mother Coutness Strathmore passed away five days before the trip, and consequently the visit was postponed by three weeks. Since a wardrobe of black mourning clothes would just not do for a hot Parisian summer, it was decided that the clothing that had been created for the visit would be recreated in all white. He wrote, “silks, satins, velvet, cloth, taffeta, tulle, chiffon, and lace were all to be in white.” We can only imagine how frantic they must have been. It must have been a sewing frenzy over at the House of Hartnell!

All that hard work paid off because the trip – and the Queen’s stunning wardrobe- was a HUGE success. This was the equivalent of the ink that was spilled to recount the Duchess of Cambridge’s wardrobe during her North American tour. The Queen was all over the papers and everything she wore was considered a sensation.

The clothes that Hartnell designed helped to solidify her image as a strong Queen of England and resonated with many. Christian Dior paid Hartnell the ultimate compliment when he said “Whenever I try to think of something particularly beautiful, I always think of those lovely dresses that Mr. Hartnell made for your beautiful Queen when she visited Paris.” Oh la la! That’s almost as good as the “we are very pleased” comment we just spoke about.

Here are a couple of those frothy, floaty designs:

Queen Elizabeth loved the dresses so much she put them on for some formal portraits taken by Cecil Beaton at Buckingham Palace:

She loved that parasol:

The white wardrobe is now preserved as part of The Royal Collection and an exhibition of the gowns was put on at Buckingham Palace during the summer of 2005. The Queen popped in for a look:

Our next post on Normal Hartnell will review the war years and beyond. He was a very busy man. See you then! In the meantime, what do you think of the white wardrobe?


Click here to Read Part Two

Click here to Read Part Three

and Click here to Read Part Four…and then you’ll be all caught up 😉

The Danish Emerald Parure

Happy May everyone!

We thought we would highlight some emerald tiaras and parures as May’s birthstone is the emerald, so here’s our first in a series:

The Danish Emerald Parure Tiara

HM Queen Margarethe

This parure was commissioned in 1840 for Queen Caroline Amalie, the wife and consort of King Christian VIII of Denmark, on the occasion of their 25th silver wedding anniversary. It is part of Denmark’s Crown Jewels, and as such is not allowed to leave Denmark, and it can only be worn by the Queen. It was made by C.M. Weisshaupt in 1840. The parure consists of emeralds and brilliant diamonds in a tiara, necklace, brooch and earrings. The necklace can also be taken apart into three brooches, or used as pendant. It consists of 67 emeralds and 2,650 diamonds.

There is a great deal of history associated with this parure, which isn’t surprising given that it is part of the Crown Jewels. The emeralds came from two sources – part were from Princess Charlotte of Denmark, the sister of King Christian VI, and the other (and larger) emeralds were a gift from King Christian VI to his wife Queen Sophie Magdalene upon the birth of the Crown Prince (the future Frederick V) in 1723. These emeralds were put together with diamonds that already were owned by the Royal Family when the parure was commissioned in 1840.

A quick little info on the Crown Jewels of Denmark. They were started when Queen Sophie Magdalene left some of her jewelry for the use of future queens of Denmark in her will, and the collection has been added to ever since. In 1914 Queen Alexandrine had them sent to Rosenborg Castle, and they are now on public display, but available for sole use by the current Queen at her pleasure.

The Queens who have worn the Danish Emerald Parure are:
1. Queen Caroline Amalie of Denmark
2. Queen Louise of Denmark
3. Queen Louise of Denmark
4. Queen Alexandrine of Denmark
5. Queen Ingrid of Denmark
6. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark

HM Queen Margarethe wearing the Emerald Parure at a Formal Dinner at Christiansborg Palace in May 2004 in honour of the upcoming wedding of her son Crown Prince Frederick to Mary Donaldson (now Crown Princess Mary of Denmark). That’s quite the dress!

Here’s some photos of Queen Ingrid wearing the Danish Emerald Parure

HM Queen Margarethe – definitely a favourite parure. She has worn it many times throughout the years

Next up, an emerald tiara worn by HM Queen Margarethe’s sister, HM Queen Anne-Marie of Greece, the Greek Emerald Parure Tiara!

What do you think of the Danish Emerald Parure?