Like many of you right now, I’ve spent the last few months retreating into comforts—comfort food, comfort clothes, and comfort TV. And nothing is more comforting than re-watching your favorites, the shows and movies you’ve seen hundreds of times and can recite line by line. After watching the much anticipated season 4 of The Crown (whether you liked this season or not, Gillian Anderson was INCREDIBLE), I found myself going back to seasons 1 and 2 again.
The Queen’s jewelry reproductions were amazingly accurate, something I found lacking in seasons 3 and 4. For her visit to the Duke of Windsor, depicted in season 3, the Queen wears a rather modest brooch, and I can’t even tell what the Duchess of Windsor has on her collar. When the visit did happen, Her Majesty wore the stunning Dorset Bow, a wedding gift from her grandmother Queen Mary. Made by Carrington, the brooch was a gift from the County of Dorset to then-Princess Mary of Teck when she wed the Duke of York in 1893. Someone with a better eye than I can probably identify the brooch worn by the Duchess of Windsor- probably a piece by Van Cleef & Arpels!
I found a 1968 copy of The Queen’s Jewellery by Sheila Young on my shelves—how wonderful—it covers the same time span as the first two seasons!
I’ll start with my favorite, The Vladimir Tiara, which is probably the most iconic. It has a fascinating history, enough to be a blog of its own, but I’ll delve into it briefly. Bolin, the imperial court jeweler to the Romanovs, made the diamond tiara with removable pearl drops for Grand Duchess Vladimir around the time of her wedding in 1874. The Grand Duchess fled the Vladimir Palace during the Revolution in 1917 but left her jewels behind—they were later smuggled out of Russia and brought to London. After the Grand Duchess’s death, her daughter sold several jewels, including the pearl and diamond tiara, to Queen Mary in the 1920s. The tiara suffered damage while in transit and was restored by Garrard. Also, Queen Mary had Garrard alter the tiara around that time so that the pearl drops could be interchanged with the Cambridge emeralds. The Queen inherited the tiara and numerous other jewels from Queen Mary at her death in 1953.
Claire Foy wears a reproduction of the Vladimir Tiara throughout the first two seasons, and the Queen has worn it often through her reign (though it only makes one appearance in season 4). Foy wears the tiara in its emerald state with an emerald and diamond necklace in the show’s depiction of the Queen’s visit to Ghana while she dances the foxtrot with President Nkrumah. The necklace, also from her grandmother, was intended to be worn together with the tiara’s emerald version. For those of us who love jewelry history, a note on the Cambridge emeralds: they belonged to Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, daughter-in-law to George III, and grandmother to Queen Mary. She apparently bought some raffle tickets for a charity lottery and won a small box that contained around forty cabochons!
Earlier in the same episode, we see the meeting of the Queen and the Kennedys. Again the jewelry is perfect. Foy wears a reproduction of an early Victorian sapphire and diamond necklace and earrings, a wedding gift to Princess Elizabeth from her father, George VI. She wears a historical sapphire and diamond brooch, a wedding gift from Prince Albert to Queen Victoria in 1840. Queen Alexandra wore it for her coronation, but she is dripping in so many jewels it’s almost invisible.
I also love the reenactments of the official portraits. Foy wears a reproduction of The Diamond Diadem, made by Rundell Bridge & Rundell in 1820 for the coronation of none other than George IV, formerly the Prince Regent (see all these blogs have a theme!). Along with the Vladimir Tiara, it’s probably the most recognizable, worn by the Queen in her depiction on stamps and currency. The diadem is also worn by Her Majesty while traveling to and from the State Openings of Parliament.
Well, this has turned into a post on tiaras, but who am I to stop it. Let’s close with the Poltimore Tiara. Made by Garrard c. 1870 for Lady Poltimore, the tiara converts to a necklace and series of brooches. The tiara went up for auction in 1959 and found its way to the collection of Princess Margaret. Vanessa Kirby wears a reproduction of the tiara for her wedding scene, but more famously when Helena Bonham Carter recreates the infamous photograph of Princess Margaret wearing the tiara in the bath!
There are so many jewels I’ve left out, but this brings me to dusk on a snowy day in New England during a pandemic. I’m going to curl up on my couch and queue up a season of Real Housewives of New York City. After all, there is a countess!