The vote is in and the consensus is that the British State Visit to the Netherlands – with half that extensive Dutch vault on display – is the Handbag fifties favorite. Next decade, please.
The sixties. Swinging London. Carnaby Street. Revolution in the streets. Against this backdrop, we also had some utterly stupendous state visits by the royals.
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Danish State Visit to France, April 1965
In the spring of 1965, President and Madame de Gaulle hosted a State Visit for Denmark, and King Frederik and Queen Ingrid were the honored guests. The State Banquet was held at the Élysée Palace on the first evening. The elegant Ingrid wore the Pearl Poire tiara and necklace.
The royal couple hosted the Return Banquet at the Danish embassy, and the Queen wore her Ruby Parure and a fabulously simple sleeveless gown.
It was a trifecta of tiaras on this visit. The royal couple and the President and Madame de Gaulle attended one last gala on the final evening of the visit. The Queen is wearing the Floral Aigrette Tiara.
The Queen did not restrain herself when it came to non-tiara events, either. For a luncheon given in their honor at the Quay d’Orsay, she wore a frothy display of headgear, four strands of pearls, a daisy brooch, and I suspect if we could see her wrists the Danish bracelet would be on display.
Belgian State Visit to Great Britain, May 1963
So, so much sparkle, and not just on the tiaras! King Baudouin and Queen Fabiola arrived in Britain for a state visit in May 1963, and they brought the charm offensive with them. The royal couple were greeted at Victoria Station, and Fabiola started things off with a bang by wearing Quite A Hat. It won’t be the last hat-to-remember we see on this visit either.
There are no photos of the first night’s State Banquet, but the glitter came out in full force for the next night’s Gala Performance at Covent Garden. The extended family was all in attendance, adding to the firepower. Imagine Queen Alexandra’s Kokoshnik, the Nine Provinces, the Poltimore, and the Greville Tiara, all in the same room. Rather remarkably, the tiaras aren’t even the most sparkling items on display. Look at the gowns and evening coats on the Queens!
Tiara event number three was the Return Banquet at the Belgian Embassy. The Queens represented. The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland (not pictured), the Oriental Circlet (not pictured), as well as the Spanish Wedding Gift Tiara all came out to play. Princess Margaret was no slouch, either. She appeared wearing her Turqoise Parure.
We told you there were more hats to come. Fabiola waves the visit goodbye in a great big old traveling hat.
British State Visit to Belgium, May 1966
In May 1966, the Belgian Royal Family hosted a State Visit from Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip of Great Britain. Baguettes and royal-watchers are all aware of the star power of Princess Paola, but Queen Fabiola and a quick appearance from the Lilian, Princess of Réthy, brought additional glamour to this visit.
The State Banquet, held the first evening, featured a trio of white gowns and the Vladimir, Nine Provinces, and Queen Elisabeth’s Diamond Bandeau. It also featured some excellent long evening glove deployment.
The Queen visited with the former King, Leopold III, and the glamorous Lilian, Princess of Réthy. As if that weren’t enough beauty for the day, she also appeared with Princess Paola in Liège.
The next evening there was a Gala Performance at the Théâtre de la Monnaie, a tiara event as well. The Queens wore Alexandra’s Kokoshnik and the Spanish Wedding Gift tiaras, and Princess Paola made do (LOL) with Queen Elisabeth’s bandeau.