Yesterday, the Duchess of Cambridge appeared in a necklace that hasn’t been publicly worn in a quarter of a century, and has a history that stretches over a century and a half. Thus, we are taking a look at Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace!
In 1863, the Prince of Wales, eldest son of Queen Victoria and the future King Edward VII, commissioned a Parure from Garrards, consisting of a versatile Diamond Tiara, a grand Pearl and Diamond Necklace (more commonly known as the Rundell Tiara), Pearl and Diamond Cluster Earrings, and a Triple Pearl Drop Brooch, which he gave as a wedding gift to his bride, Princess Alexandra of Denmark.
Princess Alexandra first wore the Necklace, Earrings, and Brooch of the Parure on her Wedding day itself, and the Tiara continued to be her most prominent diadem until she received her Kokoshnik Tiara on her Silver Wedding Anniversary in 1888. Later, Queen Alexandra wore the Diamond Chandelier Earrings now worn by Queen Sonja of Norway as additional pendants on the Wedding Necklace, and even used the pearl and diamond clusters to ornament her gown at her Coronation in 1902. After her death in 1925, the Tiara went to her daughter, Princess Victoria, who ‘disposed of it’ while the rest of the Parure went to her daughter-in-law, Queen Mary, with the earrings and brooch being inherited by the Queen in 1953, and rarely worn.
The necklace however, was among a variety of jewels, including Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara, that was given to Queen Elizabeth (later the Queen Mother) by Queen Mary after her husband’s accession in 1936. In the years before WWII, the necklace was frequently paired with the Fringe and with the Teck Circle Tiara.
However, Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace became a firm favourite of the Queen Mother after the War and the death of her husband, when she frequently paired it with her Greville Tiara, a piece she had inherited during the war, and she thus wore that combination for decades at all manner of events. Notable appearences include the Wedding of Queen Elizabeth II and Duke of Edinburgh and the Wedding of Princess Margaret.
The Queen Mother continued to attend Galas and Banquets well into her 90s, her last at the age of 98, and the last recorded appearance of Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace was at the State Banquet for the King and Queen of Malaysia at Buckingham Palace in 1993. After her death, it was inherited by the Queen, and reunited with the earrings and brooch.
The necklace remained unworn for decades until yesterday, when the Duchess of Cambridge appeared in Queen Alexandra’s Wedding Necklace at the State Banquet for the King and Queen of The Netherlands at Buckingham Palace, when she paired the piece with Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara and Princess Diana’s Collingwood Pearl Earrings, complementing the pearls in each jewel. This is thus far the oldest royal jewel loaned to the Duchess yet. Like the loan of the Queen’s Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace last year, it is probably a one-time loan to the Duchess, though it’s suitability with the trademark Tiara and Earrings of the Duchess may mean a reappearance in the not-so-near future.