Random Royal Rotogravure

Sunday was International Women’s Day, so let’s celebrate with some International Women! Taken at the “Women in Business” Reception at Buckingham Palace, February 14th, 2007.

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This is quite a treat, isn’t it? I mean seriously, how often do we get to see all of these ladies all at once, doing their thing? Do you have any favorite photos of Royal Lady “togetherness”? Pop them in the comments!

Britain · Sweden

Rocking The Royal Lady Hard Hat

Will and Kate visited the Tata Steel plant in Port Talbot, South Wales on Tuesday, February 4th, and looking at her looking fabulous in a hard hat got your friendly neighborhood hofdames to thinking: What is it about Royal Ladies that makes them look so good in hard hats? Maybe you can tell us.

Since Kate is the one that kicked this whole question off, let’s take a look at her first. The other day in Wales, in Sunderland in 2018, and her first Royal Lady hard hat experience in Denmark, right after her wedding in 2011.

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Not to be out done, here are some other British royal ladies over the years. Look at Anne. You know she just single handedly provided power to Hucknall for the next six months.

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The British ladies certainly make an effort, but I’d be willing to bet Vickan wears more hard hats than anyone. It seems she’s good for at least a half dozen hard hatted engagements a year.

All Photos:Kungahuset

So what do you think of our choices? Do you have a favorite photo of royal ladies donning hard hats/safety gear? Drop them in the comments, and be sure to let us know why you think they look so good!


In Defense of the Tiara – The Grand Duchess Vladimir

Programming Note: Tune in this weekend for coverage of Ingrid Alexandra’s confirmation. The service is at noon, local Norwegian time, with a luncheon at the palace at 1:30 p.m. Ingrid Alexandra’s royal godparents will be in attendance, including King Felipe, Crown Prince Frederick, and Crown Princess Victoria. The hofdames will be tucked in their beds during the actual ceremony, so this will not be a live open post. We do, however, intend to have a post on Saturday for your reading pleasure.

For the next in our series of convertible tiaras, I present the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara.

Pearl Vlad

The History

This tiara has a long history with royals, starting in Imperial Russia with Grand Duchess Vladimir (born Duchess Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin, thus the aunt of Alexandrine and Cecilie). This tiara was made in 1874 by the Russian court jeweler, Bolin. The tiara is designed as 15 intertwined diamond circles, with a ribbon connecting them on the top and originally set with hanging pearl pendants.

During the Russian Revolution the tiara, along with many of Marie’s other jewels, were hidden away in Vladimir Palace. They were returned after a family friend, who happened to be a member of the British Intelligence Service, retrieved them (okay…that’s a movie I’d pay to see…).

With her jewels returned, she promptly set to bequeathing them to her children. This tiara went to her daughter, Princess Nicholas of Greece (born Grand Duchess Elena), who in 1921 sold it to Queen Mary of the UK. Mary being Mary, she couldn’t leave well enough alone, and incorporated the Cambridge Emeralds into this tiara.

Emerald Vlad

Upon Mary’s death in 1953 this tiara, along with many others, were inherited by Queen Elizabeth II. Queen Elizabeth doesn’t play with her jewels as much as Queen Mary did, but she did wear this tiara one way her grandmother didn’t…without any hanging pendants.

Empty Vlad

The Case for the Tiara

The Handbag: Filled with pearls it is magnificent. Filled with emeralds it is queenly. Filled with nothing? It reminds me of a gymnasium apparatus. Since two out of three delight me, sign me up as a “For”.

The Case against the Tiara

OC: Newp. I think it’s the size of the hoops that I don’t care for. I’m always disappointed when I see it worn.

LG: This actually used to be one of my faves, before I got deep into the royal world. Looking at it now, it just seems bulky. The pearls look tight in their circles, and the emeralds don’t really fit. Without either, it just looks sad.

LiL: Nope. Not at all. I don’t like the pearls and can barely tolerate the emeralds. If she has to wear it, I’d prefer her to leave out the stones and go “au naturale”. That’s the only version I remotely like.

Which of the versions of the Vladimir is your fave?

Royal Wedding Gowns – British Embroidery

Welcome our Royal Wedding Gown feature, where we look at royal gowns from a different perspective. Today we’ll talk about how embroidery can transform an ordinary bridal look into that worthy of a royal wedding. We will focus on three British weddings.

Sadly, it is worth noting that photos, even high-quality photos, can’t reveal all of the nuances of embroidered elements. In some cases, we’ll have to rely on descriptions from those who have seen the gowns in person.

Previous entries in this series include Danish Heirloom Lace , Royal Wedding Venues, Venue Size and Scale, Historical and Artistic References, and Orange Blossoms.

Bride: Princess Elizabeth
Designer: Norman Hartnell

This is the grandmother of all symbolically embroidered gowns. Initially, there were fears that the entire wedding would be a quiet and reduced scale affair. The country was still under rationing, but royalty being what it is, Princess Elizabeth was allowed an additional 200 coupons for the creation of her dress. She then engaged Norman Hartnell, the king of exuberant embroidery, to design her gown. Fears of a grim, ration-induced celebration and un-embellished gown were set to rest.

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The overall theme of the dress is rebirth and growth after World II, and Hartnell used Botticelli’s Renaissance masterpiece Primavera as an inspiration. He blanketed the bodice and skirt with diamanté-encrusted star flowers, roses, jasmine blossoms and ears of wheat using thousands of seed pearls, silver thread, crystals, and tulle appliqués.   The dress included an unusual silk tulle train, embroidered in a star pattern, which was starkly visible when viewed against the dark flooring of the Abbey. It is a lot of embroidery, and a heavy dose of symbolism – the message of Queen-to-be and country beginning anew is strong.

Primavera/Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Bride: Princess Mary
Designers: Messrs Raville

1922: From left to right; Queen Mary, King George V, with their daughter Victoria Alexandra Alice Mary, the Princess Royal, and Viscount Lascelle, 6th Earl of Harewood, on their wedding day. (Photo by W. & D. Downey/Getty Images)

World War I was fresh in the collective memory of Britain when Princess Mary, the Princess Royal, married Viscount Lascelle. The Princess elected to pay honor the British Empire with the embroidery of her dress. The symbols in the gown reflected the contributions of the Empire and Dominions to the Allied cause during the First World War.

Princess Mary’s wedding gown is to be of cloth of silver of magnificent design. The material was bought by the Queen from India some years ago and is described as a triumph of native manufacturing

The Associated Press

 The hand-woven ivory silk as embroidered with floral symbols, including the maple from Canada, the lotus from India, the wattle from Australia and the fern from New Zealand.

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Bride: Meghan Markle
Designer: Clare Waight Keller
, for Givenchy

Meghan Markle was an American marrying a British prince, and both their wedding and her wedding dress were highly anticipated. She chose to announce her new-found commitment to husband, family, and country by wearing a veil that embodied the elements of her new role. The Prince and the Duchess of Sussex are Commonwealth Youth Ambassadors. To emphasize the importance of this role, Clare Waight Keller designed the 16-foot veil with embroidered signature flowers from the 53 Commonwealth countries. In a nod to Duchess’ home state, a California poppy was also included. According to the Duchess, the veil details were a secret to everyone prior to her entrance, and she reported later that Prince Harry, in particular, was touched and delighted by the thoughtful inclusion.

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Detail of Veil, Screen Capture Pedestrian TV

Which of these showcases the best symbolic use of embroidery?

In Defense of the Tiara – Alex’s Kokoshnik

To round out a thoroughly British week here at the Handbag, lets discuss another of Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite tiaras – Queen Alexandra’s Diamond Kokoshnik Tiara.

The History

This tiara was created for Queen Alexandra, wife of King Edward VII and daughter-in-law of Queen Victoria, in 1888 for Edward and Alexandra’s 25th anniversary. It was designed at Alex’s request after a tiara of her sister’s, Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia (born Princess Dagmar of Denmark, and mother of the future Nicholas II). The tiara was a gift of The Ladies of Society, a collection of the 365 peeresses of the realm.

The tiara was created by Garrard, and was made of 61 platinum bars containing 488 diamonds, the largest two weighing in at 3.25 carats each. Upon Alex’s death in 1928, the tiara passed to Queen Mary, and then to Elizabeth II upon Mary’s passing in 1953.

The Case for the Tiara

The Handbag: It’s a wall of diamonds. A WALL OF DIAMONDS THAT YOU WEAR ON YOUR HEAD. I rest my case.

The Case against the Tiara

LG: While I appreciate a straight up wall of diamonds on someone’s head, the bars of this one remind me of popsicle sticks on a good day, and tongue depressors on a bad one.

LiL: I have to agree with LG. This is just too clunky/chunky/ ice-lolly-sticky for me. Zero personality.

OC: Unimaginative but I can’t deny the sparkle.


What do you think of Alexandra's Kokoshnik