The Queen Mum's Lotus Flower Tiara

I do enjoy taking a good look at every tiara royal tiara out there, and I know many of you do, too! This post focuses on one of the Queen Mum’s tiaras, the Lotus Flower Tiara (this beauty also  goes by the name Papyrus Leaf Tiara sometimes, too).

Photograph from Tiaras: A History of Splendour
Photograph from Tiaras: A History of Splendour

As we know, Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon did not choose to wear a tiara on her wedding day though she already had at least two at her disposal. She decided to keep things simple, and go for flowers instead which was more in vogue at the time.

Honestly, I think she really missed a great tiara wearing opportunity here. I mean, come on!!

Via Royal Musings
Via Royal Musings

Side Note Fun fact: James Pryce, Kate Middleton’s hairdresser for her wedding day, has confirmed that Kate did originally plan to wear flowers in her hair but by February had switched to a tiara.

However, after the wedding, she started to get her tiaras out and the Lotus Flower Tiara became one of her go-to’s in the early years. According to the fabulous book Tiaras, A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn, Queen Elizabeth let it be known that this tiara was originally owned by Queen Mary.

It may very well have been made from the diamonds and pearls of this necklace and was said to have been made by William Davis of E. Wolff & Co., who were suppliers to Garrard.

Via Royal Fandom
Via Royal Fandom

George Munn describes it as being “one of the prettiest of Queen Elizabeth’s tiaras…was Egyptian in inspiration, arranged as a band of stylized lotus flowers and overreaching arches, with the graduated pinnacles surmounted by a single pearl…The lotus flower tiara was given to Queen Elizabeth by Queen Mary.”

The then Duchess of York sat for a series of portraits in 1927 which were taken to mark her tour of Australia that year. As you can see, she chose to wear it low on the forehead as was the fashion at that time. (Check out our posts on Tiaras worn in Untraditional Ways for more, here, here, and here).

The Duchess of York c. 1925 (via Royal Dish)
The Duchess of York photographed by Vandyk in 1927 (via Royal Dish)

Apparently, she also took the tiara to Canada on her trip there in 1939 and wore it for the Opening of Parliament. Still hunting for a picture, and will post one if or when it is unearthed!

Later, the Queen Mum gifted the tiara to Princess Margaret, who wore it on numerous occasions, and with great aplomb.

via Colored Diamond Info
via Colored Diamond Info

Margaret also chose to wear it when she sat for this portrait by John Gilroy. The portrait is owned by The National Portrait Gallery:

The National Portrait Gallery, London
The National Portrait Gallery, London

Later, Princess Margaret’s daughter-in-law the Hon. Serena Stanhope wore it on her wedding day, which unfortunately is the last time it was actually seen on top of anyone’s head (at least in public!). She also wore a wedding gown that was inspired by Princess Margaret’s wedding dress.


It seems to still be owned by the family since this tiara was not included in the action of Princess Margaret’s personal effects after her death, so here’s to hoping we see it out again soon.

I think that this tiara is a real treasure because of it’s history (it started out as Queen Mary’s necklace!) and it’s appearance at key events over many decades. Plus, it’s elegant and does well with many different hair do’s (total bonus!). What do you think of this taira?

UPDATED December 2013: Kate was photographed wearing this tiara to a ball at Buckingham Palace. Hurrah! This is only Kate’s second tiara appearance and it’s a fabulous choice of tiara for her, don’t you think? Check out our post on Kate and this tiara here.

Kate in the Lotus Flower Tiara en route to Buckingham Palace on December 3, 2013 (via Daily Mail)
Kate in the Lotus Flower Tiara en route to Buckingham Palace on December 3, 2013 (via Daily Mail)

5 Fun (and Possibly Surprising!) Royal Facts

How about a little royal trivia to add to your repetoire? Today we’re counting down five surprising royal facts that you just may not have known. Let’s start with number #5…

#5 Coleherne Court

It is well known that Lady Diana Spencer lived in a beautiful apartment block called Coleherne Court before her engagement to Prince Charles was announced.

Via Princess Diana Remembered
Via Princess Diana Remembered

The apartment block is on Old Brompton Road and is a very short walk from the Earl’s Court tube stop. Diana’s apartment was in Block H, and was purchased by her mother. Diana rented the other bedrooms out to friends while she was dating Charles, and had a sign on her door that said “Head Chick”. Our post on the building gives some more details on Diana’s days and can be read here.

Via Flickr
Via Flickr

Since then, another future royal bride lived at Coleherne Court! You see Sophie Rhys-Jones also lived there before she married Prince Edward. What are the odds!? She moved out shortly afterward and she and Edward now live in an enormous estate called Bagshot Park, which is a relatively short drive from Windsor Castle.

Sophie in January 1999 before her engagement to Edward was announced (via The Royal Forums)
Sophie in January 1999 before her engagement to Edward was announced (via The Royal Forums)

#4 Nottingham Cottage, Kensington Palace

Onto another fun fact about royal homes. As you know, William and Kate moved into Nottingham Cottage within the grounds of Kensington Palace back in 2011.

It’s probable that William was already pretty familiar with the house by that time, since he likely visited the cottage as a youngster, when his aunt (Princess Diana’s sister) Lady Jane Fellowes lived there with her husband Robert Fellowes. At that time, Robert Fellowes was serving as Private Secretary to the Queen and a perk of the job was living there.

Lady Diana with Patrick Robertson
Lady Diana with Patrick Robertson (via Pinterest)

In The Diana I Knew, which was written by the American lady who hired Lady Diana Spencer to be a nanny for her son Patrick, she recalls that Diana mentioned taking Patrick to “see my sister in Kensington” on a few occasions. Diana failed to mention that these visits actually took place within in the palace grounds.

#3 Royal Godparent Surprise

So by now we all now that Zara is one of Prince George’s godmothers. But did you know that one of Zara’s godparents is none other than Andrew Parker-Bowles, Camilla’s ex-husband?

Camilla and Andrew Parker-Bowles' 1973 Wedding Via Lamberdebbie's blog
Camilla and Andrew Parker-Bowles’ 1973 Wedding Via Lamberdebbie’s blog

Yep, when Zara Philips was christened on 27 July, 1981 in the Private Chapel at Windsor Castle, he was named one of her three godfathers (the Duke of York was another). You see, he and Camilla were both good friends of Princess Anne, and in fact he and Princess Anne even dated for awhile.


All these years later, it seems that they still have a close relationship. Andrew and Anne were were spotted at Ascot together in 2010 and here he is with Zara and Princess Anne at Cheltenham in 2011. Andrew was also one of the guests at Zara’s wedding that year:

Via Sydney Racing
Princess Ann, Andrew Parker-Bowles, and Zara Via Sydney Racing

#2. Sarah Ferguson & The Duchess of Devonshire

You probably are well aware that Diana Spencer and Sarah Ferguson were distant cousins, but did you know how?If you’ve seen the movie The Duchess with Keira Knightley, this next fun fact may just ring a bell.

Fergie and Diana (via Huffington Post)
Fergie and Diana (via Huffington Post)

Keira Knightley’s character was based on the true story of Lady Georgina Spencer, who went on to marry the Duke of Devonshire on her 17th birthday, the 7th of June 774. The new Duchess of Devonshire was the toast of the town wherever she went and she was quite the trend setter in her day.

Keira Knightley as The Duchess of Devonshire (Via The Daily Mail)
Keira Knightley as The Duchess of Devonshire (Via The Daily Mail)

Years later, she had an affair with Charles Grey which resulted in an illegitimate daughter named Eliza Courtney, who was born in 1792. Eliza never knew the true story of her parentage, but it turns out that she is the great-great-great grandmother of Sarah Ferguson and thus the  great-great-great-great grandmother of Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

Via The Daily Mail
Via The Daily Mail

#1 Diana Spencer, Prince Andrew, & Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Diana’s nickname growing up was “Duch” since, according to her family,  she was “determined to be a Duchess at least.” A future Duke she may have had her eye on from a young age was Prince Andrew, who was a childhood playmate.

Prince Andrew is seated on the bench
A young Prince Andrew is standing next to the bench (via News Conner)

You see, before her dad became Earl Spencer and moved the family to Althorp,  Diana grew up in Park House, which is on the Sandringham estate in Norfolk. Diana’s parents rented it from the Queen for several years.

Park House in Norfolk (via
Park House in Norfolk (via

Over the Christmas holidays, the Spencer family would be asked over to the main house and Diana and Prince Andrew would play together.

Diana at Park House with her pram
Diana at Park House with her pram

When speaking to Andrew Morton for Diana Her True Story, Diana remembered, “We were all shunted over to Sandringham for holidays. Used to go and see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, the film. We hated it so much. We hated going over there. The atmosphere was always very strange when we went there and I used to kick and fight anyone who tried to make us go over there and Daddy was most insistent because it was rude. I said I didn’t want to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for the third year running.”

That just rings so true!

In the end, Diana helped set up Fergie with Prince Andrew by inviting her to a lunch at Windsor Castle in 1985. And the rest is history.

Do you have any other fun royal facts to share with us?

Thoughts on Prince George's Christening Day

It was so much fun to wake up to more great coverage of Prince George’s christening than expected. There had been talk that nothing would be released until tomorrow, after all. So let’s begin!

The Footage

We’ll start with the Royals arriving, captured on video!  Check it out here:


Even if you didn’t watch it, no worries! Because I did watch it. Many times. All so that we could have some detailed analysis, because that’s how we roll around here.

First of all, all the bowing and whatnot is so fascinating, right? This video doesn’t show how Camilla first greets the Queen with a curtsey and then she moves over to Prince Philip. She gives him a more informal greeting and no curtsey (maybe she forgot?) and  a casual “how are you?” and clap on the shoulder. Goes to show how far Camilla has come in the last ten years!

Camilla greeting the Queen (via Daily Mail)
Camilla greeting the Queen (via Daily Mail)

Meanwhile Harry ducks over to greet Granny with two kisses and a deep head bow, followed by Kate who greets the Queen with a tentative smile, kiss and a curtsey. William, who is carrying Prince George, gives the Queen a quick head bow and then we hear him having a few words with the Queen and the clergy.

“He’s just got quiet. He’s all ready…so far so good.” That sort of thing.

William, George, and Kate (via
William, George, and Kate (via

Then Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby says “I have five children myself” and no one seems to really hear him, which is sad. Then another member of the clergy greets Kate with a “Your Royal Highness.” Kate responds with a “Good morning.”

Oh dear.

The service was scheduled for three pm, so Kate clearly still gets a but tongue tied around the Queen and video cameras. Can’t really blame her but the haters will have a field day. Shortly afterwards, Kate notices the Duke of Edinburgh and heads over for a curtsey. It’s quite sweet, actually. Everyone seems more warm around Prince Philip today! They then walk in with Prince Philip keeping up the rear and that’s the end of the video coverage.

The Invite List

While there was speculation that two of Kate’s midwives were invited, we didn’t see any evidence of that today. However, we do know that apart from the godparents the attendees were:

  • Kate, William, and George
  • The Queen and Prince Philip
  • Charles and Camilla
  • Harry
  • Mike and Carole Middleton
  • Pippa and James
The Queen arrives in regal blue with Philip (via Daily Mail)
The Queen arrives in regal blue with Philip (via Daily Mail)
Carole, the Queen, and Zara all chose blue
Carole, the Queen, and Zara all chose blue (via Daily Mail)
James, Earl Grosvenor, Pippa, and Carole (via Daily Mail)
James, Earl Grosvenor, Pippa, and Carole (via Daily Mail)

The fact that they wanted to keep it so small to the exclusion of Sophie and Edward, Andrew, and Anne seems a bit short sighted to me.  I mean, why not bring the family together for a happy event? Maybe they just didn’t want to then have to invite wayward Uncle Gary? Or Earl Spencer?

The Godparents

The rest of the gathering was made up of the chosen godparents and their spouses. Courtesy of the press release on William and Kate’s official website, the godparents are:

  • Mr Oliver Baker (Oliver Baker attended the University of St Andrews with The Duke and Duchess)
  • Mrs David Jardine-Paterson (Emilia Jardine-Paterson attended Marlborough College with The Duchess)
  • Earl Grosvenor (Hugh) (Earl Grosvenor is the son of The Duke of Westminster)
  • Mr Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton (Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton served as Private Secretary to The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry from 2005-2012 and continues to serve part-time as Principal Private Secretary and Equerry)
  • The Hon Mrs Michael Samuel (Julia Samuel was a close friend of The Princess of Wales)
  • Mrs Michael Tindall (Zara Tindall is The Duke of Cambridge’s cousin)
  • Mr William van Cutsem (William van Cutsem is a childhood friend of The Duke of Cambridge)
Emilia, via Daily Mail
Emilia, via Daily Mail
William and Ollie Baker in 2007 (shortly before the William-Kate Break Up!)
William and Ollie Baker in 2007 (shortly before the William-Kate Break Up!)

I think it’s just perfect that Kate and William have their two good friends Emilia and Oliver there on the top of the list.  Ollie lived with Kate and William for a couple of years at St. Andews and apparently Emilia introduced Kate get into William’s circle before Kate decided to go to St. Andrews (more on that here). Both are also very discrete and protective so they definitely deserve a place.  Nice for Kate to have a pal on there, too (there’s so much ink spilled on her not having many friends, so this will help show ’em). Oh, and Emilia is married to the brother of Pippa’s ex boyfriend JJ Jardine-Paterson, so there’s that. No wonder Pippa wanted to show up looking GOOD!

The young Earl (left) celebrated his 21st birthday with great fanfare
The young Earl (left) celebrated his 21st birthday with great fanfare (via Chester Chronicles)

The young Earl of Grosvenor is another nice choice, he’s the closest in age to Prince George and will be a good ally. The Grosvenors own much more of London than the Queen, and no doubt he’ll be able to be a big help to George when it comes to estate planning and what not.

Kate and Jamie at a Polo Match c. 2006 (via Zimbio)
Kate and Jamie at a Polo Match c. 2006 (via Zimbio)

I have to say I was also a bit relieved to see Jamie Lowther- Pinkerton on the list. I’d wondered if perhaps there had been a slight rift, what with him leaving full-time service lately. More info on Jamie can be read in our post on William and Kate’s staff here.

The final three godparents also make a lot of sense.

Zara and Kate at Cheltenham just before the big break up
Zara and Kate at Cheltenham just before the big break up

And here’s Zara today, looking great in Navy. Why not have a cousin and Olympic champion on the roster? Also, her kid and Prince George will be very close in age.

Zara at Prince George's christening (via Daily Mail)
Zara at Prince George’s christening (via Daily Mail)

Julia Samuel was another thoughtful choice. She was a good friend of Princess Diana and is the founder of Child Bereavement, a charity that William is involved with.

Prince William with Julia (via Hello!)
Prince William with Julia (via Hello!)

Wlliam Van Cutsem is the final member of the godparents club. His family has long been close with the Wales’ and his inclusion had been speculated about.

I think it makes sense that Harry and Pippa weren’t included on the list. After all, they will already be closely involved in George’s upbringing.

The Service 

Pippa and Harry were honoured in that they were both asked to be readers at the service. A nice touch! Maybe James will get his turn next time round. It was also revealed that one of the hymns that was sung had been written for Prince William’s christening.

More details can be seen on the official press release here.

The Christening Gown

It’s no surprise to us that the gown itself has been a source of intrigue since our post on the British royal family’s Christening gowns has been one of our most popular posts ever since it was first published (it’s gotten well over 30,000 hits to date!).

From 1841 to 2004, members of the royal family have been christened in a gown that was commissioned by Queen Victoria for her eldest daughter’s christening. Here’s a photo of the future Queen Elizabeth II in the original gown on her christening day on May 29, 1926:


The Royal.Gov.UK website gives these details of the gown:

The Royal christening robe, of fine Honiton lace lined with white satin, was made in 1841 for the christening of Queen Victoria’s eldest daughter, Victoria, Princess Royal.
In 1894 the robe was given by Queen Victoria to the Duchess of York (later Queen Mary), all of whose children were christened in it. 
In the next generation it was worn by the children of King George VI, of Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, and of Prince George, Duke of Kent. 
The children of The Queen and of Princess Margaret were christened in it, and it has subsequently been used for the christenings of all The Queens grandchildren and other Royal babies, including the grand children of Princess Margaret.

Here’s Lady Louise in the gown – little did she know she’d be the last one to wear it!

Via Days of Majesty
Via Days of Majesty

After Lady Louise’s 2004 christening, the gown was retired in order to preserve it and a replacement was comissioned by the Queen. Lady Louise’s brother James Viscount Severn wore the new gown for his 2006 christening. A press release for the occasion states:

The Christening Gown worn by Viscount Severn is a hand-made replica of Queen Victoria’s daughter’s Christening Gown, which was worn at subsequent Royal Christenings and has now been preserved. It is the first time this gown has been worn by a member of the Royal Family and was commissioned by The Queen.

Since then it’s believed that both of Peter Philips’ children have worn this new gown. That makes Prince George the 4th of the Queen’s grandchildren or great-grandchildren to wear it.

Kate’s Outfit

The other outfit that looked smashing today was Kate’s. She chooses McQueen for big events, and today’s outfit was no exception. The colour and ruffle details echoed the christening gown.

Kate with Prince George after the ceremony (via Daily Mail)
Kate with Prince George after the ceremony (via Daily Mail)

I also immediately thought of the white Reiss dress that Kate wore in her engagement photographs and in Ottawa for the Canada Day celebrations. She does like a good ruffle, doesn’t she?

Kate & William's engagement portrait by Mario Testino
Kate & William’s engagement portrait by Mario Testino

I also liked how Camilla and Pippa showed up in creamy whites – they just looked so fresh and calm. Zara, the Queen, and Carole also all looked great in blue.

Spencer Christenings

Before we end, I thought this would be as good a time as any to take a moment to look over at Princess Diana’s own christening. This photo shows the Hon. Diana Spencer with her parents on her christening day in 1961. Her father was not yet the Earl at this point.

Via Pinerest
Via Pinerest

(and psssst…SO MANY rarely seen photos of a young Diana can be seen here. I was blown away by how many I hadn’t seen)

And finally, A rarely seen photo from Diana’s older sister Sarah’s  1955 christening can be seen here.  As you can see in the picture, the Queen Mother attended – it’s worth click, I promise.

More Christening Fun

If you haven’t had enough yet, reading some of our past posts on royal christenings might tickle your fancy!

Swedish Royal Family Christening Traditions they have a few, and some of these pics are pretty darn cute

Princess Estelle of Sweden’s Christening, when the little Princess wore a wee Order of the Seraphim sash

The Royal Family of Denmark’s Christening Gowns (the oldest one has been in use since 1870!)

Princess Athena of Denmark’s Christening, when one of the chosen godmothers raised some eyebrows

So, thoughts? Please share!

Prince Philip's Steps in the Galapagos Islands

All was quiet on the blog recently because the Royal Posters were travelling around the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador. They are close to 1,000 kilometres off the mainland and suffice to say are not known for having great wifi access!

A handy map at the Quito airport
A handy wall map at the Quito airport

As I’m sure you know, the Galapagos are  famed for their incredible biodiversity and the number of endemic species that lead Charles Darwin to come up with his Theory of Evolution. The islands were made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 in order to help preserve them. The trip was awesome and it was exhilarating to be out (and in!) the water seeing such a variety of beautiful birds and fish as well as the Galapagos penguin and many sea turtles and tortoises. Here are a few snapshots I took during the trip:

Off on a snorkelling adventure...those mesh bags hold the gear!
Off on a snorkelling adventure…those handy mesh bags hold the masks and flippers.
A Red Footed Booby, not to be confused with the Blue Footed Booby.
A Red Footed Booby. Not to be confused with the Blue Footed Booby.
And what a pretty blue!
And what a pretty blue!
These Furry Seals and Sea Lions were tuckered out!
These Fur Seals and Sea Lion were tuckered out from hunting and were taking a snooze on the cliffs of Genovesa Island.
We snorkeled with these penguins. They are FAST!
We snorkeled with these penguins. They are FAST!

But  what does this all have to do with royalty, you may wonder?

Well, our last day exploring the islands involved an excursion to a lovely spot known as Prince Philip’s Steps. They are on Genovesa island and were named in recognition of Prince Philip’s 1964 visit to the islands. He was there due to his interest in conservation and wildlife research and sailed in on the Royal Yacht Britannia.   The steps are extremely steep and a bit of a hike to get up. Apparently a recent crop of tourists fell like dominoes on the way down and one poor fellow ended up in the water. You can see why:

The Approach to Prince Philip's Steps. Excuse the smudge on the lens!
The Approach to Prince Philip’s Steps. Excuse the smudges on the lens!

Here’s a closer view, extra big to get the effect:

Mind your stepping!
Mind your stepping!

A highlight of our hike around the island was spotting not one but TWO owls. They are so camouflaged. Can you spot the guy below?


I can’t track down any photo’s of Prince Philip climbing up the steps himself. However, we do have this photo from his most recent visit in 1980 when he struck this awesome pose on a rock. Love the sneakers!

Prince Philip visiting the Galapagos  Islands in 1980. Via Prince Philip Galapagos ALbum Facebook.
Prince Philip visiting the Galapagos Islands in 1980. (Via Prince Philip Galapagos Album Facebook.)

Prince Philip’s interest in the Galapagos continues. He is Patron of the Charles Darwin Foundation, and in 2009 he unveiled this life-sized bronze statue of Charles Darwin at Cambridge University. The statue is meant to show Darwin as he would have looked in his student days. There he is, looking into the future with great seriousness.

Prince Philips with a statue of Charles Darwin
Prince Philips with a statue of Charles Darwin (Via

Other Royals who have visited the Galapagos include Prince Charles and Camilla. They were there in 2009 as part of a tour of South America. THIS is how you dress for a beach walk to observe wildlife, am I right?? I love that Prince Charles thought to wear a Panama hat, too. Fun Fact: although they are called “Panama” hats, they actually traditionally come from Ecuador where they are still woven by hand.

Camilla and Charles in the Galapagos in 2009, via Daily Mail
Camilla and Charles in the Galapagos in 2009, (via Daily Mail)
Another day, another outfit. Here they are with Lonesome Geroge! (via Daily Mail)
Another day, another outfit to see some Giant Tortoises (via Daily Mail)

On a more serious note, in 2011 it was announced that the Prince’s Foundation would assist with ensuring that a building development would impact the islands as little as possible. More information on the project can be found here. Perhaps he’ll make another visit soon to track the progress.

To end, here’s a pic of one of the giant tortoises we saw. Thanks for popping by!

Just moseying along...
Just moseying along…

The Greville Jewels

Today let’s chat about a formidable lady who was affectionately known to friends as “Mrs. Ronnie.”

The daughter of Scottish brewer, philanthropist, and MP William McEwan and Margaret Anderson, she was born Margaret McEwan in 1863.   Hilariously, she would freely announce she’d “rather be a beeress than a peeress” and married the Hon. Ronald Greville in 1891. She quickly earned a reputation for her spirited personality and for throwing enormous parties.

Portrait c. 1900, via
Portrait c. 1900, via

Though she was quite a bit older than the Duke and Duchess of York, she became a good and loyal friend to both of them. When she passed away in 1942, she left her extensive collection of jewels to HM Queen Elizabeth “with my loving thoughts” in their entirety.

This short video entitled “Have You Heard About Mrs. Greville?” gives some more insights into her life.

Thanks to a delightful book called Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother by William Shawcross, we have great insights into how the Queen Mum felt about Mrs. Greville and her jewels (and many other things!).

In fact, fact one of the first letters that Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon wrote to Prince Albert alludes to her. In a letter dated to 13 December, 1920, she wrote:

Dear Prince Albert,

Thank you so much for your letter. I am looking forward very much to Mrs Ronnie Greville’s party – though the thought of it terrifies me! I haven’t been to a proper dinner party for months and months, and have quite forgotten how to behave! I expect it will be great fun though…”

Notably, the new Duke and Duchess spent their honeymoon in 1923 in Mrs. Greville’s home Polesden Lacey in Surrey.

via The National Trust
via The National Trust

This photograph shows the Duke and Duchess on their honeymoon there.

Via The Daily Mail
Via The Daily Mail

We now jump ahead many years to September 1942 when she wrote to Osbert Sitwell (a write that she got to know through Mrs. Greville) of a recent visit she had with their ailing friend. Her letter reads:

“I saw Mrs. Ronnie about three weeks ago. She was at Braemar and quite miserable there. She came over to Balmoral, & it was too pathetic to see this little bundle of unquenchable courage & determination, quite helpless except for one very bright eye. I had not seen her for a couple of months, & was very shocked and sad at the change. But with all her weakness there was just the same tenacity of purpose, & I felt full of admiration for such a wonderful exhibition of ‘never give in’. 

After she passed away that month, the Queen wrote another letter dated to Mr. Sitwell. It is dated to 27 September 1942 and gives a sense of Mrs. Ronnie’s sense of humour:

“I shall miss her very much indeed..she was so shrewd, so kind, so amusingly unkind, so sharp, such fun, so naughty (‘amn’t I naughty’), that must be very Scotch to say ‘amn’tI’, and altogether a real person, a character, utterly Mrs. Ronal Grenville and no tinge of anything alien”

Queen Elizabeth in 1942, via The BBC
Queen Elizabeth in 1942, via The BBC

The first mention of her jewels comes in a letter dated to 13 October 1942 when she wrote to her mother-in-law Queen Mary from Balmoral Castle. She says:

“…I must tell you that Mrs. Greville has left me her jewels, tho’ I am keeping that quiet as well for the moment! She left them to me “with her loving thoughts”, dear old thing, and I feel very touched. I don’t suppose I shall see what they consist of for a long time, owing to the slowness of lawyers and death duties, etc, but I know she had a few good things. Apart from everything else, it is rather exciting to be left something, and I do admire beautiful sones with all my heart. I can’t help thinking most women do!”…

There has been some conjecture that Queen Mary, who certainly loved beautiful stones with all her heart, may have had her eye on Mrs. Greville’s collection, so knowing that I read Queen Elizabeth’s letter a little differently. She must have had an inkling that there may be a case of ‘green eye’ on Queen Mary’s part!

Anyhow, the final letter I have to share before we dive into the jewels is from June 27, 1944. It is addressed to Princess Elizabeth and reads as follows:

Buckingham Palace

My Darling Lilibet,

This is just a note about one or two things in case I get ‘done in’ by the Germans! I think that I have left all my own things to be divided between you and Margaret, but I am sure you will give her anything suitable later on – such as Mrs. Greville’s pearls, as you will have the Crown ones. It seems silly to be writing these sorts of things, but perhaps it would be easier for you darling if I explained about the jewels.

I am sure that you would find Cynthia Spencer & Dorothy Halifax very helpful over any difficult little problems & of course Granny!

Let’s hope this won’t be needed, but I know that you will always do the right thing, & remember to keep your temper & your word & be loving – sweet – Mummy.

It is a rather silly thing to be writing about! Note the allusion to Cynthia Spencer, Princess Diana’s grandmother (the lady below). They really were close!

Portrait by John Singer Sargent. Via Wikipedia.
Portrait of Cynthia Spencer by John Singer Sargent. Via Wikipedia.

And now, here are some of the key pieces of the collection known as the Greville Jewels:

The Greville Scroll Brooch, Cartier, 1929

We’ll start with this quite dainty and lovely brooch was made for Mrs. Greville by Cartier. It was worn numerous times by the Queen Mother, once even on a hat.

Via Her Majesty's Jewel Vault
Via Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault

Since 2002, Queen Elizabeth has brought this brooch out a few times. More information can be found over at the always delightful blog, Her Majesty’s Jewel Vault.

Chandelier Earrings, Cartier, 1929

These beauties were apart of the exhibit Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration put on at Buckingham Palace in the summer of 2012. You can read about our visit and impression of those jewels here, if you like.  Aren’t they stunning?

Via The Royal Collection Trust
Via The Royal Collection Trust

King George and Queen Elizabeth gifted these earrings to Princess Elizabeth when she married Prince Philip, and she wore them quite a bit in the ’50’s and ’60’s.

Via Windsor Jewels Tumbler
Via Windsor Jewels Tumbler

They haven’t made an appearance in awhile which is just all sorts of wrong. It’s about time they did, I say.

The Greville Peardrop Earrings, Cartier, 1938

These drops are comparatively dainty!

Via The Royal Collection Trust
Via The Royal Collection Trust

The Queen Mum kept these in her collection and also bequeathed them to Queen Elizabeth upon her death in 2002.

Ruby & Diamond Necklace, Boucheron, 1907

Via The Royal Collection
Via The Royal Collection

This necklace is not for the faint of heart and was passed along to Princess Elizabeth on the occasion of her wedding. Princess Elizabeth modified the necklace slightly by removing two of the flower clusters to shorten it.

And voila, the necklace on an outing:

Via Gracie Jewellery
Via Gracie Jewellery

Since the Queen has taken to wearing higher necklines, this necklace hasn’t been worn in some time. It really needs a good dress to work around it! I think Sophie should be allowed to give it a go.

Marie Antoinette’s Emerald Necklace

There is some conflicting information about this one, so I’ll update this if I come across some more credible information. For now, let me tell you that it is believed that this emerald necklace, which once belonged to Marie Antoinette, was also included in the gift. It was also bequeathed to Queen Elizabeth upon the Queen Mother’s death, but as far as I know the Queen hasn’t worn it publicly. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

via Royal Jewels of the World
via Royal Jewels of the World

The GrevilleTiara, Boucheron, 1921

Mrs. Greville had this tiara made by Boucheron out of diamonds that she had on a pre-existing tiara. I would love to find a portrait or picture of Mrs. Greville wearing it, but haven’t tracked one down yet.

According to Geoffrey Munn in Tiaras: A History of Splendour, Mrs. Greville had the tiara made by boucheron using stones from an old tiara. The order is dated to January 8, 1921 and this is how it orignally appeared:

Via Tiaras: A History of Splendour
Via Tiaras: A History of Splendour

The Queen Mum certainly made good use out of it, wearing it on numerous occasions and in oodles of portraits. She had it modified slightly in 1953, when she increased the tiara’s height by adding the pinnacles to the top. It really is fit for a queen and is more of a crown than a tiara.

Via Artemesia's Jewels
Via Artemesia’s Royal Jewels

It has since graced the head of the Duchess of Cornwall, who carries it with aplomb. This tiara needs a proper amount of hair to sit on and Camilla’s ‘do works, I think.

Via The Daily Mail
Via The Daily Mail

The Greville Diamond Necklace

Ok, this piece is a bit of a mystery to me still. Geoffrey Munn alludes to it saying that the gift included “a spectacular necklace of brilliant and baguette diamonds by Cartier.” Still working on tracking down a picture, and will post it when I do!

So, what’s your favourite piece? I’d be quite content with the chandelier earrings and would most likely take to wearing them in the bath!

Margaret photographed by Lord Snowdon (Via The Oddment Emporium)
Princess Margaret photographed by Lord Snowdon (Via The Oddment Emporium)

Oct 3, 1922: A Letter to Prince Bertie

So I’m currently LOVING reading  Counting One’s Blessings: The Selected Letters of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Have you read it? If not, add it to the list (it can be purchased here)!

via Amazon
via Amazon

This book was published in 2012 and is an interesting read because it really gives so much insight into the life and times of the Queen Mum. It starts off with a letter written to her dad in 1909 when Lady Elizabeth Bowes Lyon was aged 9 and ends with a letter to Prince Charles when she was 101.

In order to put the book together, editor, William Shawcross was given access to the Glamis Castle archives which are up in on of the turrets (and would be such a dream come true to get to pore through) as well as unrestricted access to the Royal Archives. So there are letters, diary entries, and in some cases direct quotes from a conversation the Queen Mother had with her biographer sprinkled throughout the book. It is, to use one of Queen Elizabeth’s most repeated words in her letters, ‘delicious.’

The following letter was written 91 years ago today: on October 3, 1922 from Glamis Castle. By this time, Prince Bertie had already proposed several times and was turned down but as we all know his luck was about to change. In the end, she agreed to an engagement on Sunday, January 14, 1923 and Bertie quickly sent a telegram off to his parents reading simply “All right – Bertie”. They had a pre-arranged understanding of what this message would mean. I suppose the alternative could have been “Not all right – Bertie.”

Lady Elizabeth and Prince Bertie January 18, 1923 (via forum.alexanderpalace)
Lady Elizabeth and Prince Bertie January 18, 1923 (via forum.alexanderpalace)

It’s fun to see how her letters to Prince Bertie evolve from being quite stiff and formal to more relaxed and jokey. You can see she’s warming up a bit in this letter. She likes his photo! And put it up in her room! And she loves the records he sent!

Well, read away, but first press play on this video, which is a 1922 recording of the song “Stumbling.” Do it! And then start to read. You’ll see why in a second.

Dear Prince Bertie,

Thank you ten million times for sending me all those gramophone records, which arrived in record time (oh! a joke, accident I promise). I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed playing them. When one is in the country far away from everything, it is too delicious getting new records. Thank you so much, it was very angelic of you to take the trouble to get them for me. I enclose some notes of enormous value, but I don’t know quite how much I really owe you. I hope two crackly sovereigns is enough? Thank you also so much for the excellent photograph, it is a very good one I think, and I am so pleased to have it. 

I am listening to “Stumbling” as I write, it is so good, I love it, and also ‘Limehouse Blues’ and ‘I’m Simply Mad About Harry’. 

We all went into Perth races on Saturday to see Joe Arlie win his race – he did it quite easily, as one man fell off & lost his horse, & the other never got over the first jump! There were only three of them. Diamond [a mutual friend who suffered from leukaemia] is here now, I think she looks so ill poor thing. […]

Many thanks again for your photograph, which I have stuck up in my room, & the best of luck on your trip abroad.

Yours Sincerely,


A Review of Kate: The Future Queen

Over the weekend, I got my hands on a copy of the recently released book Kate: The Future Queen by Katie Nicholl. Obviously, I sat down with it right away to see what all the fuss was about.

The Canadian Version of the book on my Canadian desk
The Canadian Version of the book on my Canadian desk

As you can see,  they put out a Canadian version of the book which is pretty cute. Unlike the regular version which has a picture of Kate at the Garter Ceremony (shown below), the oh-so Canadian version features Kate on Canada Day during her 2011 visit to Ottawa with William. She’s got on her maple leaf hat, a white dress, the maple leaf diamond brooch, the whole thing. I would have taken the necklace off. There’s just too much going on. But A+ for patriotic effort, am I right?

Katie Nicholl at her book's launch party (Via Zimbio)
Katie Nicholl at her book’s launch party (Via Zimbio)

Anyway, Katie Nicholl is the go-to royal correspondent for CNN, ABC, and ET, and the BBC. She seems to be pretty “in” with the younger royals and has met most of them out and about at parties over the years. Some have speculated that she may have some sort of arrangement going with the Middletons, but I’m not sure that’s the case. However, it is true that she is definitely very pro-Kate and certainly avoids saying anything negative about any of the royals whatsoever.

There has already been a lot of ink spilled over the “exclusives” of the book, and here’s my take on them.

Exclusive #1: Kate Switched from Edinburgh University to St. Andrew’s after William Announced his University Choice

A delightful street in Edinburgh taken on a recent trip there. Note the bunting!
A delightful street in Edinburgh taken on a recent trip there. Note the bunting!

The major exclusive is that Kate really did turn down a spot at Edinburgh University in order to re-apply for a spot at St. Andrew’s after it was announced that William would be going there. There had been some conjecture about that in the press, but this is the first time it’s really been confirmed. She has quotes from teachers at Kate’s school, Marlborough College, confirming the switch.

Can’t say I’m surprised. I think Kate figured she might as well give it a try, and clearly she was right, eh?

Exclusive #2: Kate had already met William before she got to St. Andrew’s

Kate and William at St. Andrew’s Via

So perhaps this helps to explain why Kate made the switch!  Katie Nicholl also spoke to friends who confirmed that Kate had already met Prince William “once or twice” before she got to know him at St. Andrew’s, despite William and Kate’s claim in their engagement interview that they met at the school. I think the explanation for that is that Kate was one of many in the group whenever she did meet William, and didn’t make much of an impression until later.

Here’s what Kate said in the engagement interview:

“Well, actually I went bright red when I met you and sort of scuttled off, being very shy about meeting you. But, actually William wasn’t there for quite a bit of the time initially. He wasn’t there for Fresher’s Week so it did take a bit of time for us to get to know each other, but we did become fairly close friends from quite early on.”

To Kate’s credit, she kept the fact that she’d met William before close to her chest when she was doing her gap year. If she did have her sights set on William – and, come on, she totally did- she knew she had to be very smart about it and be careful about what she said and how she behaved.

After spending three months in Italy, Kate joined a Raleigh International expedition in Chile (which we already knew and like William did) where she helped build fire stations and conducted marine surveys. Rachel Humphreys was an interpreter on Kate’s trip and said “She was very mature…she was always in control of herself and impeccably behaved.” That summer she worked at Ocean Village Marina in Southampton. Her colleague there Paul Horsford confirms Rachel’s impression and is quoted as saying:  “She was always very professional and very private, and very careful with what she said.” He also confirms that she told him she’d met William before, and that she told him that herself in what seems to have been a more unguarded moment.

Exclusive #3: Kate Did some Secret Charity Work

The third tidbit that Katie unearthed is that Kate undertook some secret charity work when she was dating William. Katie is very diplomatic about it, but the point is made that this was strongly encouraged by the Queen. A source close to the family is quoted as saying around 2007 that:

“The Queen has no idea what Kate does. Privately, she is very concerned about what the repercussions could be if Kate is not in a stable job as and when William is ready to propose…the Queen is of the opinion that Kate should be working.”

So, as part of her “let’s win over the Queen” plan, Kate started making secret trips to Naomi House, a children’s hospice close to the Middleton’s home. This is also around the time that Kate started taking on more responsibilities for Party Pieces, her family’s company.

It must have been privately validating for Kate when she arrived at Naomi House this past April to all this fanfare:

Kate At Naomi House April 2013 (Via Zimbio)
Kate At Naomi House April 2013 (Via Zimbio)

There are a few other little tidbits here and there that are interesting like:

  • William’s floor in residence was directly above Kate’s
  • When she moved to London, Kate was given permission to swim in the Buckingham Palace pool, like Diana had done. Not sure I believe it, but there you go.
  • In 2008, Kate visited Mustique 3(!) times! Oh, dear…no wonder the Queen was concerned.
  • Since the Middleton’s could not invite their own guests to the lunchtime reception at Buckingham Palace, they hosted a “in lieu of” party at the Goring. I didn’t realize that they couldn’t invite ANY guests to the reception, only their immediate family. Maybe this was the Queen’s way of avoiding a meeting with Kate’s embarrassing Uncle Gary?
  • Kate, William, and Harry watched the wedding coverage together before getting ready for the Buckingham Palace reception. Kate still had her tiara on when her hairdresser James Pryce arrived to give her a fresh blow-out for the evening. It was sewn into her hair so it must have been tricky to take off, but still…who’d want to take it off?? Love that!
Via FabSugar
Via FabSugar

I was a bit disappointed that some sections of the book were identical to other Kate and William books out there, almost to the letter. So those parts were oh so dull, but overall it is a fun read for any royal watchers.

So the question is, has Kate read the book yet? Hell, yes. I think she’s very aware of what’s said about her in the press and can’t help herself from keeping tabs on it. When Katie Nicholl was speaking to Vanity Fair in 2010 about her book William and Harry: Beyond the Palace Walls she said:

I sent a couple of copies of the book to William and Harry because they wanted to read it, and I know the book is also in the Buckingham Palace library which is rather nice. (Source)

So there we have it. Have any of you read the book or are planning to read it? Let’s chat.