The Princess of Wales surprised royal watchers and fashion followers with her tiara choice for this evening’s state dinner. Below, the Princess as she arrived at Buckingham Palace with the Prince of Wales.
The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester as they arrived.
The Royal Collection Trust shared a video showing some of the preps involved in a state dinner.
Tonight, The King and Queen will host a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace as part of the State Visit for The President of the Republic of Korea. Find out more about the history of State Banquets: https://t.co/yhCVdFCozK pic.twitter.com/O2NWG7vXKJ
— Royal Collection Trust (@RCT) November 21, 2023
The Telegraph reports, “The flowers included ferns dug up and repotted repeatedly under the King’s quest for sustainability.”
And here you see the King and Queen giving the preparations a final look late this afternoon.
One final glimpse ahead of tonight… ✨
오늘 밤 만찬을 앞두고… ✨
🇬🇧🇰🇷 This evening, The King and Queen are hosting a State Banquet for the President and First Lady of the Republic of Korea at Buckingham Palace. pic.twitter.com/Ig0KqfWlEl
— The Royal Family (@RoyalFamily) November 21, 2023
The dinner honored South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and First Lady Kim Keon Hee. Here, you see them with the King and Queen.
More about the dinner from this BBC piece.
These are opulent occasions, with diplomacy fuelled by fine dining, using a 19th Century dinner service with more than 4,000 pieces.
The table settings are as precise and symmetrical as the military parade that greeted the president – each guest getting a place setting of 46cms.
Each guest had a nameplate on their place, which probably got smuggled out in a few pockets later as souvenirs, even with the Archbishop of Canterbury in the room.
The President and King as they walked to the Buckingham Palace Ballroom, where the dinner was held. It is the largest of the state rooms at the palace.
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The First Lady and Queen.
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The Prince of Wales and a guest I do not recognize.
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The Princess of Wales with South Korea’s Deputy Prime Minister Choo Kyung-ho.
The Duchess of Edinburgh and South Korea’s Deputy National Security Advisor Cho Taeyong.Embed from Getty Images
In this photo, you see Princess Anne with Bang Moon-kyu, South Korea’s Minister of Trade, Industry and Energy. Her husband, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, is on the far right in the photo.
The Duchess of Gloucester with Ambassador Yoon Yeocheol. Embed from Getty Images
The Times has more in Valentine Low’s story.
In what is undoubtedly a K-pop first for a white-tie palace dinner, the 171 guests also included all four members of the Korean pop group Blackpink, said to be the biggest girl group in the world. Cho So-hyun, who plays for the South Korean women’s football team and Birmingham City, was also a guest.
Town and Country reports in this piece, “Blackpink is believed to have traveled to the UK specially to attend the state banquet. In July, they made history as the first Korean band to headline a major UK festival when they played at the BST Hyde Park festival.”
Below, a wide shot after guests were seated.
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We return to the Times of London article.
The banquet did, however, include telling clues about the transition of reign. The glasses on the top table had been re-engraved with Charles’s cypher CIIIR, while other guests had glasses with the late Queen’s EIIR.
Most — but not all — of the side plates, which were from the 1953 coronation set, had also been updated.
The Princess, President, King, and Queen standing as national anthems were played.
King Charles began his address with a welcome in Korean, which was met with applause, and praised the relationship that South Korea and Great Britain share, further commending South Korea’s strides in sustainability — a longtime cause close to heart for sovereign — and BLACKPINK’s impact.
“It is especially inspiring to see Korea’s younger generation embrace the cause,” King Charles said. “I applaud Jennie, Jisoo, Lisa and Rosé, better known collectively as BLACKPINK, for their role in bringing the message of environmental sustainability to a global audience as Ambassadors for the U.K.’s Presidency of COP 26, and later as advocates for the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals.”
More from The Court Jeweller’s coverage.
…including the late Queen’s Burmese Ruby Tiara and the Crown Ruby Necklace from Queen Victoria’s Heirlooms of the Crown collection. She also added ruby and diamond clip earrings from her own jewelry box—the ones previously worn in 2015, I think, with the lower section removed—plus a diamond bracelet.
The Princess was in a customized gown from Jenny Packham’s spring/summer 24 resort collection, with thanks to Katie and Laura for their speedy ID work. The Princess’s dress is most like the Anemone gown ($4834) seen below left, but I included the Dreamland ($3820) on the right so you could see how the gold embellishment looked against the ivory fabric.
The floor-length gown features a slim silhouette, slash neckline, a fitted bodice with a full skirt, concealed back zipper, and wide cape-effect sleeves. The piece also has structured shoulders with shoulder pads. The sleeves are only ‘cape-effect,’ and no cape fully covers the back, as you can see in this pink version of the Anemone ($4834). All of the off-the-rack gowns are described as being made of stretch crepe, and I would guess the Princess’s dress is as well.
The gown worn tonight (shown in the center photo) does not have the level of embellishment seen on the off-the-rack dresses. It lacks the beading and larger sequins used on the Anemone and Dreamland; the pattern itself looks different.
More on the embroidery from Bethan Holt’s column for The Telegraph.
…delicate floral embroidery which may have been chosen especially to tie in with the Strathmore Rose tiara. It could also be seen as a tribute to the South Korean national flower, the mugunghwa or South Korean hibiscus which is also referred to as the Korean rose.
The biggest news about tonight’s ensemble, by far, was the Strathmore Rose Tiara. It has not been worn for nearly one hundred years.
We learn more from The Court Jeweller.
The Strathmore Rose Tiara became a royal jewel in April 1923, when it was given to Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon by her father, the Earl of Strathmore, to celebrate her marriage to the Duke of York. Acquired from Catchpole & Williams, the antique nineteenth-century tiara was described as “a diamond bandeau of five roses, with diamond sprays between, forming separate brooches.”
The Queen Mother wore the tiara on occasion when she was Duchess of York. She placed it low across her forehead, in trendy 1920s fashion, and also later wore it atop her head on a second, more traditional tiara frame. But the Strathmore Rose was largely consigned to a place in the vaults when she became Queen Consort. Most recently, the tiara was photographed for Sir Hugh Roberts’s book on royal diamonds, published in 2012 to coincide with Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
A closer look.
And this from Vogue’s story.
Upon the Queen Mother’s death in 2002, her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, inherited the tiara. Yet it stayed in the royal vault for decades—reportedly, it hasn’t been worn by a royal woman since the 1930s. Rumors arose that perhaps it was too damaged or too fragile to be worn again. Now, however, the rare diamond diadem has been given a new life by the Princess of Wales.
The tiara was a surprise because the Princess primarily wears the Lover’s Knot, and she occasionally wears the Lotus Flower.
We return to The Telegraph piece by Bethan Holt for additional thoughts on the Princess’s jewelry.
The royal jewellery collection is now under the control of the King so it will have been his decision to allow Catherine to wear this almost-forgotten piece of royal jewellery history. It’s a touching gesture given the close relationship which the King enjoyed with his grandmother and the fondness with which he’s spoken of his daughter-in-law. Earlier this month, he referred to her as ‘beloved’ during a speech in Kenya.
Lauren at The Court Jeweller offers an interesting theory.
Kate has often indicated through jewels and photographs that she’d like to emulate the same kind of supporting royal role as the late Queen Mum, and the use of this tiara is just one more sign that she’s aiming to be like a modern-day version of the beloved QEQM. After all, the Strathmore Rose is the third tiara from the Queen Mother’s collection that Kate has worn, after the Cartier Halo Tiara and the Lotus Flower Tiara.
We also saw the late Queen’s Diamond Frame Earrings.
The Princess wore her Queen Elizabeth II Royal Order, as well as her Royal Victorian Order sash, star, and cross. The Princess carried an Anya Hindmarch clutch I don’t recall seeing before. It looks like the Pearls Maud Clutch (£395, about $495 at today’s exchange rates), so-called because of the pearl closure. It may be a bespoke version, as it looks darker than the ivory color shown in this product photo, although that could just be lighting. UPDATE NOV 22: This is not a new clutch. With thanks to Katie for her comment pointing this out, the bag was first carried at a military passing-out parade in Jamaica in March 2022.
In case you missed today’s earlier post covering the official welcome, you can read it here.
Sky News offers coverage of both the King’s and the President’s speeches.