Image from the Royal Tour of South Africa earlier that year, not from the Ball!
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (likely in the Greville Tiara and Greville Festoon Necklace) hosted a spectacular Ball for over a thousand Guests at Buckingham Palace on this day in 1947, ahead of the Wedding of Princess Elizabeth (wearing her South African Diamonds and the Order of the Garter) and Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (in the Greek Order of the Redeemer), which ended with the King leading a conga line through the State Rooms of Buckingham Palace at the end of the evening.
Their Majesties held an evening reception for over a thousand guests. This was the most glittering and impressive scene at Buckingham Palace since pre-war days. All the women guests wore their loveliest jewels and dresses. Although the men were not in Court dress, they wore their Orders and decorations on their evening dress. Amid this wonderful scene no one looked more beautiful than the Queen in her gorgeous satin crinoline gown embroidered in gold, on which she wore the blue ribbon of the Order of the Garter; her jewels were superb, a magnificent diamond tiara, a lovely diamond necklace and bracelets, and above her elbow a wide diamond band of the Order of the Garter. With the King, Her Majesty moved through the fine State reception rooms on the first floor talking to their guests. Princess Elizabeth looked radiantly happy and quite lovely accompanied by Lt. Mountbatten. She was wearing again on her cream tulle evening dress the blue ribbon of the Order of the Garter conferred on her by the King a few days previously, also the magnificent diamond necklace made from the twenty-one diamonds given her by the people of South Africa on her twenty-first birthday. Lieut. Mountbatten wore the pale blue ribbon of the Greek Order of the Redeemer with his evening clothes. Queen Mary was in gold lame and other members of the British Royal family present Included Princess Margaret in a gown of white tulle patterned with gold, vivacious.
There are no images from inside the Palace, but some of the Royal Guests were pictured leaving Claridge’s Hotel, led by a granddaughter of Queen Victoria and a first cousin of the groom’s mother; Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain (wearing the Spanish Fleur-de-Lys Tiara, Diamond Earrings, Diamond Rivières, and Cartier Stomacher) with the Count and Countess of Barcelona (in the Mellerio Shell Tiara and Joyas de Pasar Brooch).
King Michael of Romania, who was soon to be deposed, joined his mother, Queen Helen (wearing the Romanian Greek Key Tiara and Queen Marie’s Diamond Sautoir), and her sister Princess Irene, Duchess of Aosta (in her Diamond Tiara), both of whom were first cousins of Prince Philip and also related to the Bride.
King Peter II of Yugoslavia was a godson of King George VI, while his wife, Queen Alexandra (wearing Grand Duchess Elisabeth Feodorovna’s Emerald Tiara and Parure, the subject of great conflict with her mother-in-law, Queen Maria), was a cousin of Prince Phillip. Queen Alexandra wrote:
For the first time I was going to wear the family emeralds, which Queen Marie of Yugoslavia had given me just before Alexander was born.
Because of their vivid green and the clear red of the ribbons of my orders, I was limited in my choice of colour for a ball gown, as, long ago, Peter had warned me I should be. I chose a simple design with a low-cut bodice and an enormous skirt made in palish aquamarine satin, so pale that it was almost white.
I drove with Peter to the state ball in Buckingham Palace. I had not attended a ceremonious occasion there before. The time would come when Philip would have to assist Lilibet in receiving hundreds of guests in this great state ballroom, as Uncle Bertie and Aunt Elizabeth were doing now–he would have to take his share of making the right remarks to each one, help his wife to carry the magnitude of stateliness and ritual. As the long formal dinner went on, my head ached and hurt unbearably under the weight of the heavy tiara of emeralds I wore. Even the jewels of the necklace seemed to lie too heavily on my neck, and I longed to take them all off and to relax comfortably.
I gazed about me at the women in their rich gowns and jewels; everywhere there were the same gracious or smiling expressions on their faces, expressions worn as dutifully as their orders and decorations. I, too, had been trained to behave and appear like this. But for me such occasions were now rare. And I was glad.
My tiara bit viciously into my head. Somehow I was not sorry that Peter and I were not called on to maintain a large court.
While Queen Frederica (likely wearing Queen Sophie’s Diamond Tiara) stayed at the Palace, Prince George, uncle of the groom, and Princess Marie of Greece (in the Cartier Olive Wreath Tiara and Queen Olga’s Pearl Brooch) were seen leaving Claridge’s with their daughter, Princess Eugenie (wearing her mother’s Cartier Bandeau Tiara).
The Greek Royals were pictured alongside Prince René of Bourbon-Parma and his wife, Princess Margaret of Denmark (wearing Princess Ingeborg’s Boucheron Pearl Circle Tiara), and their son, Prince Michel of Bourbon-Parma. Their daughter, Princess Anne, met and fell in love with King Michael of Romania at a reception given by her cousin, Grand Duke Jean of Luxembourg, while in London. The two got married the following year.
King Frederik IX and Queen Ingrid of Denmark (likely wearing the Danish Ruby Parure) as well as her father, Crown Prince Gustaf VI Adolf, and the groom’s aunt, Crown Princess Louise of Sweden (possibly in the Leuchtenberg Sapphire Tiara), were among the Royals who stayed at the Palace along with King Haakon VII of Norway (great-uncle of the bride). Bridesmaid Lady Pamela Hicks noted in her autobiography that Crown Princess Juliana of the Netherlands (likely wearing the Sapphire Tiara) “caused a stir” by bemoaning that “everyone’s jewellery is so dirty”, but she (Lady P) was amazed that they had survived the Second World War.
There was also another Ball hosted by the King and Queen at Buckingham Palace during the Wedding Celebrations, but there are only images of Queen Victoria Eugenie of Spain (wearing her Cartier Pearl Tiara and Empress Eugenie’s Emeralds) as well as Princess Marie (wearing the Cartier Olive Wreath Tiara) and Princess Eugenie of Greece (in her Diamond Tiara) leaving Claridge’s.