Royal mourning dress is governed by strict protocols, and that extends to jewellery. For the Queen’s funeral procession on 14 September, the Princess of Wales paid tribute to the late monarch by wearing Her Majesty’s Diamond and Pearl Leaf Brooch, which features three large pearls at the centre of a diamond pavé leaf. Elizabeth II is only thought to have worn the design once, to a Seoul concert on her 73rd birthday. It caught the attention of royal-style followers again in 2017, though, when the Duchess of Cambridge borrowed it for an appearance in Ypres, Belgium, to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Passchendaele.
Catherine’s earrings, meanwhile, honoured Diana, Princess of Wales – whose title she assumed following the Queen’s death on 8 September. Originally gifted to Diana by Collingwood Jewellers ahead of her wedding to Prince Charles in 1981, the pearl drop style became a favourite of the late royal, who often paired them with Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot Tiara. The Duchess of Cambridge has followed suit during a number of State Banquets at Buckingham Palace over the years, as well as wearing the earrings in one of her 40th birthday portraits, taken by Vogue photographer Paolo Roversi.
In addition to being a personal gift from the Queen, the brooch and earrings are also symbolic of grief; pearls have been associated with mourning since at least the reign of Victoria. It’s widely known that the late monarch never wore colour again after the death of Prince Albert, her beloved husband, including precious stones. In lieu of sapphires, emeralds and rubies, Victoria exclusively favoured jet and pearls, cementing the latter’s association with tears in the 19th century.
Expect to see many more tributes to the Queen – sartorial and otherwise – from the Windsors in the coming days.
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk