16 February 2018

Royal Flashback of the Day: Margrethe and Henrik's Wedding

The Danish royal family are this week continuing to mourn the loss of Prince Henrik and prepare for his funeral. They have emerged to view the flowers left outside the palace by the crowds and to accompany Prince Henrik's coffin from Fredensborg Palace to Amalienborg Palace. Queen Margrethe has declared court mourning until March 14th, during which time the royal family and court will wear dark clothing for public appearances and will not take part in any social or entertainment events. The funeral will be held on February 20th. It will be a private family event in accordance with Prince Henrik's wishes, not a state occasion (no foreign royals in attendance).

As they say goodbye, let's take a video look back to when they said hello: Margrethe's wedding to Henrik on June 10, 1967. The future queen wore the Khedive of Egypt Tiara and a Jørgen Bender gown that incorporated antique family lace; her groom could have passed for a French James Bond in his dapper white tie. Theirs may not have been the easiest match all the way through, but it certainly seemed to be a wonderful artistic and intellectual pairing, and they were clearly head over heels on this happy wedding day.

15 February 2018

Tiara Thursday: The Cartier "Lusitania" Tiara

Some tiaras are set apart by their extraordinary materials or craftsmanship, some become known for their ownership, and some simply have a story you can't forget.

The Cartier "Lusitania" Tiara
This tiara was commissioned from Cartier Paris in 1909 by Sir Hugh Montagu Allan for his wife, Marguerite (1873-1957). It features a classic Greek key or meander motif created with circular-cut diamonds in a millegrain setting, with a border of seed pearls and a large detachable old-mine cut diamond at the center. Sir Montagu, as he was known, was a prominent Canadian banker and ship owner and the family were fixtures of Montreal society.

Lady Allan wearing her Cartier tiara
In 1915, the family was packing up their life in Canada and heading to England, where they intended to stay for the duration of World War I to assist in the war efforts. Lady Allan was to help open a hospital in England for Canadian serviceman. Sir Montagu was still in Canada closing up the family's mansion when his wife and two of the couple's four children, 16-year-old Anna and 15-year-old Gwendolyn, set out to sail from New York to Liverpool on the RMS Lusitania. Joining the Allans on their fateful journey were two of Marguerite's maids, Emily Davis and Annie Walker, plus a load of luggage that included Lady Allan's jewels - and her diamond and pearl Cartier tiara. The ship left New York on May 1, 1915.

The Lusitania was one of the largest and fastest ships on the sea, and it continued to ferry civilian passengers across the Atlantic even as submarine warfare intensified. Germany had declared the seas around the United Kingdom a war zone and had warned that allied ships were in those waters were risking attack. The German embassy in the United States even warned specifically of the threat to the Lusitania on its May 1915 voyage. Many, however, thought that the ship's speed would keep it safe from attack. They were wrong.

On the afternoon of May 7, 1915, the Lusitania was torpedoed by a German U-boat off the southern coast of Ireland. It sank in just 18 minutes. Of the nearly 2,000 passengers and crew on board, 1,198 died. Among the fatalities were both of the Allan's teenage daughters. (Heartbreakingly, Sir Montagu and Marguerite would later endure the losses of their remaining two children: son Hugh was killed on his first service flight as a member of the Royal Naval Air Service in 1917, and eldest daughter Martha died at the age of 47.) Though she was severely injured, Lady Allan survived the sinking of the Lusitania. Her two maids survived the shipwreck as well. Unbelievably, one of them also managed to save Lady Allan's Cartier tiara, concealing it in her clothes throughout the tragedy.

Marguerite Allan kept her shipwrecked tiara for the rest of her life and bequeathed it to a cousin, Elspeth Paterson Dawes. Ms. Dawes' granddaughter placed the tiara up for auction in 2015, telling The Globe and Mail that while she was sad to see it leave the family, the 100th anniversary of the war was the right time to let it go. The tiara sold for $799,265, well over its estimate of $293,994 - $443,483 (USD). It was reacquired by Cartier and is now part of the Cartier Collection.

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On display at the V&A
Cartier's reserve of historical tiaras are regularly loaned for museum exhibitions, and if you happen to be in London in the first half of 2018, you have an opportunity to see the Lusitania tiara in person at the Victoria & Albert Museum. The tiara joins furnishings, ship fittings, clothing of wealthy passengers, and other items from the age of the great ocean liners in the Ocean Liners: Speed and Style exhibition, which runs now through June 17, 2018.

14 February 2018

Royal Outfit of the Day: Meghan and Harry in Scotland

{A note before we carry on with our usual fare: Very sadly, Prince Henrik passed away on the 13th. Tidbits has been updated and continues to be open, as always, for discussion.} 


Prince Harry and Meghan Markle visited Edinburgh yesterday.
MOD/Crown Copyright 2018
You'll never guess what Meghan wore for her first trip to Scotland: a long coat and trousers, okay, yeah, and also TARTAN, because what else. A Burberry coat this time around with some Veronica Beard trousers that proved a little too long for a stroll outdoors.

MOD/Crown Copyright 2018
When in doubt, match yourself to the regimental mascot. (This is Cruachan IV, the Shetland pony that spends more time hobnobbing with royalty than the royals themselves do, or so it seems. Cruachan met the Queen twice last year alone, once attempting to turn her bouquet of flowers into a tasty snack. Cheeky Cruachan tried to make a snack out of Harry this time, but who among us can blame him for that.)

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She's still doing an excellent job of matching her outfit to Harry's, formality-wise, and I can't complain that I'd like to see her in something more formal (as I know many of you would) when the occasion doesn't call for it. It does, however, make me look forward to a more expanded program somewhere out there in the future - if for no other reason than putting an end to grand pronouncements on her style based on only a few appearances.

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P.S.: Who am I to deny you a ring close up?

13 February 2018

Royal Outfits of the Day: Letizia in Lace

The King and Queen of Spain attended the Innovation and Design awards yesterday.
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The latest update from the world of fussy lace comes to us by way of Letizia (in a Zara shirt), surprisingly enough. She's not the first one to reach for the voluminous sleeves, but she might be the only one that could make the voluminous sleeves and voluminous top work.

House of HM the King
It's really an awful lot of volume, though, isn't it? Yeah.

Queen Letizia attended the Princess Of Girona Foundation Prize in Arts and Literature last week.
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There's a touch of lace in this gem from last week, too, on the top underneath her sharp jacket. It was my only minor quibble on this an otherwise sleek combo of Carolina Herrera and Hugo Boss. Although I was entirely distracted from the lace - and all the other things - once I realized that she went full animal print on arrival.

House of HM the King
A cheetah print coat! Oh yeah.

12 February 2018

Monday Tidbits for February 12: Wedding Updates, Health Updates

Update: Prince Henrik of Denmark passed away peacefully in his sleep on February 13th, at Fredensborg Palace with Queen Margrethe and the couple's two sons at his side. 

It's a mix of good news and bad news this time around:

--New details have been released regarding Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding on May 19th. The ceremony will take place at noon at St. George's Chapel and will be conducted by the Dean of Windsor with the Archbishop of Canterbury officiating the vows. At 1 pm, the couple will embark on a carriage procession through Windsor. There will be one reception right after the service in St. George's Hall at Windsor Castle (where state banquets are held when at Windsor) and a private reception hosted by Prince Charles for close friends and family later on.
St. George's Hall, Windsor Castle
By Joshua Barnett - CC BY 2.0

--Sadly, the Danish royal household announced last week that Prince Henrik's health has "greatly worsened", enough so that Crown Prince Frederik cut short his trip to the Winter Olympics in South Korea and returned home. Henrik's brother, Etienne de Montpezat, was quoted by BT as saying "it seems to be a matter of weeks." Prince Henrik has been hospitalized since January, when he was transferred home to Denmark after falling ill during a trip to Egypt; he's been through months of health issues over the past year, including surgery last summer, a dementia diagnosis, and now a benign tumor and infection in his lung. The whole royal family visited the hospital over the weekend and Queen Margrethe has cancelled immediate engagements.

--Princess Mako made her first official public appearance since the imperial household announced that her wedding to Kei Komuro, which was intended to happen in November, will be postponed until 2020. (The official reason of “lack of preparation” has only caused more speculation, including about a reported financial dispute in the groom's family.) Mako carried on, attending a calligraphy exhibition. [Japan Times, Japan Today]

--Over at the Jewel Vault, an orange-clad Queen came back to London and is back to work in purple one day and in a brooch we haven't seen in a few years another day.

--And finally, since we're doing the 2018 royal wedding rounds, here's one for those of you that have posed this very question in the past couple weeks: Have you been pronouncing Princess Eugenie's name wrong all this time? [Hello]

Tidbits is your spot for royal topics we haven't covered separately on the blog, all week long. Please mind the comment policy, and enjoy!