The Princess of Wales brought back a Jenny Packham gown for tonight’s glittering diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace.
A refresher on the event via a 2016 Daily Mail piece.
It is also the largest reception held at Buckingham Palace, requiring hours of intricate planning by the Master of the Household and the Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps, as well as the commandeering of almost every member of waiting staff.
More than 1,000 people from around 130 countries, including members of the British government, past Prime Ministers and the Archbishops of Canterbury and York attend the gathering.
I don’t know if the King has kept the guest list the same, but the event is a highlight of the social season for many. In a news release, Buckingham Palace notes, “The Reception, which usually takes place annually, sees The Sovereign invite the Diplomatic Corps to an event in the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace. The Reception celebrates the presence in London of one of the largest Diplomatic Corps in the world and will see Their Majesties, The King and Queen, meet representatives of countries accredited to the Court of St. James.”
The occasion provided the chance for a photo portrait of the King, Queen, Prince, and Princess. It was shot before the reception by Chris Jackson in the 1844 Room at Buckingham Palace.
Embed from Getty Images
This is the second time the King has hosted the reception.
Below, a photo from last year’s reception.
The Prince and Princess of Wales.
A solo shot of the Princess.
Prince William greeting guests.
Embed from Getty Images
Now, let’s take a look at what the Queen wore this evening, beginning with her embroidered evening gown by Fiona Clare, a go-to designer for her. (With apologies, we have very few photos from tonight’s event.) You see her Order of the Garter sash and star, and a pair of earrings from her own collection.
She also wore the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara, described by the Order of Splendor as “…a diamond design of festoons and scrolls set on a bandeau base of round and lozenge-shaped diamonds.” This is just the second time she has worn the piece—more from The Court Jeweller’s coverage of tonight’s festivities.
The diamond tiara, with its elegant fleur-de-lis and festoon designs, was given to Queen Mary as a wedding present in 1893. The gift came from a committee of young women, the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland. (Hence the usual name for the jewel.) Originally the tiara had a row of pear-shaped pearl toppers, but Mary later had those removed and repurposed.
Queen Mary gave the tiara to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II, as a wedding present in 1947. She wore the tiara for the next seven decades.
Queen Camilla wore a bracelet belonging to the late Queen and a striking piece called a “stomacher” that belonged to the Queen Mother. More from Bethan Holt’s Telegraph column.
Camilla also re-introduced a rather unusual piece of royal jewellery to public view at the diplomatic reception. She opted to wear a diamond ‘stomacher’ which belonged to the late Queen Mother on her cream gown by Fiona Clare, one of her most trusted couturiers. This large piece of jewellery, sometimes referred to as a devant de corsage because of the way it decorates the bodice of a dress, once featured heavily in royal women’s jewel rotations, creating opportunities for maximum adornment and status-signalling.
We return to The Court Jeweller for more on this piece.
The most exciting aspect of Camilla’s jewelry this time around, however, is the corsage ornament that she pinned to the front of her evening dress. The diamond stomacher looks to me like a late nineteenth-century piece, with its interesting diamond tassel design elements. This piece isn’t one that I can ever recall seeing the late Queen Mother wear, even in portraits from the days when she was Duchess of York. I don’t believe it matches any of the pieces described in the official lists of her wedding gifts from 1923. Could it possibly be part of the Greville Bequest? (It looks so familiar, but I can’t place it!)
I think @isaguor is right — Queen Camilla’s outfit at tonight’s diplomatic reception (left) and Annabel Eliot, standing beside her sister, in an official coronation photo (left)
— Patricia Treble (@PatriciaTreble) December 6, 2023
UPDATE: The gown is not the same style worn by Annabel Elliot, as explained by Viking Queen on Twitter.
To those speculating about Camilla’s gown tonight. It is not the same as Annabel’s coronation gown. There is no embroidery on the shoulder of Annabel’s gown & if you zoom it’s clear the embroidery on the sleeves is different as well. #QueenCamilla #KCIII pic.twitter.com/ms39txv3FH
— Lagertha of Denmark (@VikingQueen77) December 6, 2023
Now for our review of what Kate wore this evening.
If tonight’s outfit looks familiar, that’s because it is, including the accessories. The same ensemble was worn this June for the reception celebrating the wedding of Crown Prince Hussein and Princess Rajwa of Jordan. Below, a look at the Jenny Packham “Georgia” gown, a style from the A/W 2019 runway collection. The style features rose pink sequinned tuille with a row of crystal embellishments accenting the waist and neckline.
Here, you see the Princess wearing the gown on both occasions.
Many immediately recognized tonight’s tiara, the Lover’s Knot.
Background on the tiara comes via the Court Jeweller:
…the piece is definitely the most famous lover’s knot tiara today, it was originally a copy of another almost-identical sparkler that once belonged to the Cambridge family. The lover’s knot motif was very popular in the nineteenth century; the knots are the pretzel-like elements at the top of the tiara — the part from which the pendant pearls are suspended.
Below, a chronological look at the tiaras worn for all eight receptions the Princess has attended. You see the Papyrus/Lotus Flower twice and the Lover’s Knot six times.
We return to Bethan Holy’s Telegraph story.
The Princess of Wales wore her favourite tiara, the Cambridge Lover’s knot which dates back to 1914 and was created by Garrard for Queen Mary as a replica of a piece belonging to her aunt, Princess Augusta of Cambridge. The ornate design features a diamond frame with a row of drop pearls. The tiara was used by Queen Elizabeth II before being loaned to Princess Diana who wore it numerous times despite complaining that it gave her a headache.
The Princess wore Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Greville diamond chandelier earrings.
The earrings were a wedding present for the then-Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and said to be a favorite of the late Queen. In this photo, you see her wearing them in Canada during a July 2010 tour.
The Princess wore the sash, badge, and Maltese Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, anchored to her shoulder by her Bentley and Skinner deco-style diamond brooch, and the Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II.
Here is a better view of the insignia, shown when worn at a 2022 state dinner.
More on the Royal Family Order from a previous post. “The Order is a gift that was personally bestowed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to female members of the Royal Family. It features an image of the Queen in formal attire and wearing a tiara. The oval is surrounded by diamonds and topped by a red enameled crown.” Looking closely at tonight’s wearing, you will see that the yellow ribbon holding the Order has been folded under, most likely in anticipation of a new King Charles III royal family order.
Rebecca English of the Daily Mail reports that a portrait of King Charles has been chosen for the new Order, but the piece hasn’t yet been created.
We saw the return of the salmon/peach Prada clutch, a piece dating back to at least 2011. The satin hard-sided bag has rounded edges, a goldtone clasp, and the Prada logo.
Tonight’s shoes look like the Gianvito Rossi ‘Rania’ style ($2695). The pointed-toe pumps are handmade of transparent organza silk with suede trim, and embellished with 4500 crystals. (A few repliKates I found can be seen here.)
Here is a look at the ensembles seen at previous diplomatic receptions. From left to right, you see the red Jenny Packham’ Elodie’ gown worn last year with the Lotus Flower Tiara and the Queen’s Diamond Frame earrings. In 2019, we saw the Lover’s Knot tiara and Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, as well as a diamond ring and earrings worn with a dramatic black velvet Alexander McQueen gown. For the 2018 reception, a soft, sequinned Jenny Packham design was accessorized with the Lover’s Knot tiara and the Collingwood earrings. At the 2016 reception, a Jenny Packham gown was repeated and paired with the Lover’s Knot tiara, the Queen’s Wedding Gift bracelet, and Diamond Frame earrings.
We do not have great shots of two other styles worn by the Princess, including the white gown from 2017 paired with the Lover’s Knot tiara, the Queen’s shimmering collet/rivière necklace, and the Collingwood earrings.
I’ll leave you with one more view of the Princess.
I will see you Friday for the Christmas Carol Concert at Westminster Abbey.