30 June 2014

Royal Outfit of the Day: June 30

Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg (formerly Princess Alexandra of Denmark, first wife of Prince Joachim) turns 50 today! (Or so her 1964 birth date would have us believe; the lady herself hasn't aged in, well, ages.)
Not passing up any occasion to feature the Alexandrine Drop Tiara, today's outfit is a late model Princess Alexandra gem, if you will. Worn in the later years of her marriage as well as during the period after her divorce when she was still attending state occasions, the design is a bit more sleek than some of the enormous gowns she sported at the beginning of her marriage. But in keeping with the example set by her former mother-in-law Queen Margrethe, it still features a nice train. (The train is best seen on video, below.) The blue silk gown with swirling embroidery and floral embellishment is from Henrik Hviid, a favorite designer.
Video: State banquet for the President of Bulgaria, 2006. Alexandra enters at 1:55, and there are plenty of other royal sighting in there too - including one of my favorite Mary gowns. Part 2 is here.
She's long since ditched the big princess gowns, but she hits 50 elegant as ever. Happy birthday to her!

Photo: Antony Jones/UK Press via Getty Images

27 June 2014

Royal News Update of the Weekend: An Engagement in Sweden!

A special update is in order for some special news: Prince Carl Philip of Sweden is engaged to his longtime girlfriend Sofia Hellqvist! Carl Philip, 35, and Sofia, 29, will marry in the summer of 2015.
The newly engaged couple with the King and Queen following the announcement.
Photo: kungahuset.se
The news was announced in a hastily called press conference on Friday and the couple said the engagement had happened that morning (although they were already having what was reported as an engagement party on Friday night, as you can see in the Expressen tweet below, so maybe there was a bit of advance planning? Not that it really matters...). The timing of the announcement was a surprise, but the news really wasn't for those that follow the family; Sofia's been a fixture in Carl Philip's life for several years, and they share a home. The happy couple was joined by the King and Queen at the press conference, and Queen Silvia couldn't help but note that they had been waiting for this news just like the rest of us.
Sofia wore a red Roland Mouret dress and showed off her engagement ring, a round diamond with a diamond surround and a diamond-set split shank band.
As seems to be the time-honored tradition of a royal engagement, the new family member is welcomed by a rousing round of criticism using anything the press and the public can get their hands on. In this case, Sofia comes rife with material, since her pre-CP days included some modeling (of the scantily-clad and, uh, occasionally un-clad varieties) and a turn on a reality show. The backlash won't be anything new for her, since the rumblings have been there since her relationship with Carl Philip was first disclosed back in 2010. There were the obligatory initial reports of family disapproval (how right or wrong those were, we'll never know), but in the past few years she seems to have been accepted by the royal family, including attending public family events. She's put an emphasis on her charity work during her relationship with the prince.
I know there are mixed reactions out there to the engagement, but we can all unite on the superficial level - that's what we're here for, folks, as far as this particular blog is concerned - and look forward to another tiara-filled Scandinavian wedding. Right?

Again, they've announced that the wedding will be next summer, dates and all the rest to come. As far as attendance and scope, my personal guess is we're in for something like what Princess Madeleine and Chris O'Neill had, but we'll just have to see what happens.

Royal Outfit of the Day: June 27

Video: Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary attended the awards show for the Reumert Prize last Sunday.
Mary has had several engagements recently, and this was my favorite frock of them all. It's a pretty dress on its own, definitely made better in movement, and I love that she went with a detailed lace shoe. But what I love more is that she's rocking a dress she first wore nearly 10 years ago - pre-babies, yes, but a classic look that doesn't really go out of style.
The dress from Céline Ready-to-Wear Fall 2004, the last collection Michael Kors designed for the brand.
And we must give out some recognition to Frederik and his navy tux too - he completed a triathlon the morning of this event! (I did a triathlon last weekend too, if a triathlon is a thing that involves three different desserts.)

Mary also debuted a dress from Mary Katrantzou this week. Katrantzou's stuff is instantly recognizable due to her use of prints, in particular stunning landscape prints - probably a love-it-or-hate-it thing, but this one I love. (Click here for pics.) Now if I could only get her to scoop up some of these dresses that have a little more purple in them...

Photos: Style.com/Matches fashion

26 June 2014

Tiara Thursday: Luxembourg's Aquamarine Bandeau Tiara

Luxembourg's Aquamarine Bandeau Tiara
Worn earlier this week for National Day (but hardly seen behind the hair) was one of several small colored stone tiaras from Luxembourg. This tiara features diamonds and five aquamarines, and it came from the collection of the late Grand Duchess Joséphine-Charlotte. It's part of a set which includes the bandeau-style tiara (which I believe can also be used as a bracelet), earrings, and a necklace with pendant, all made of large rectangular aquamarine stones joined by knotted diamond motifs.
Left to right: Joséphine-Charlotte, Margaretha, Maria Teresa. Joséphine-Charlotte wore it in bandeau style, closer to the forehead.
Like most of the tiaras belonging to the grand ducal family, this one has been seen on a few different family members: Joséphine-Charlotte and daughters Princess Margaretha and Princess Marie Astrid, plus daughter-in-law Grand Duchess Maria Teresa. I hope we see it on as many family members as they can manage, as it's grown to be one of my favorite aquamarine tiaras. Aquamarine just works so well in an Art Deco design, for whatever reason, and the diamond ornamentation here is subtle enough to allow the blue to take center stage. As we've seen in other tiaras, rectangular aquamarine stones aren't always the easiest to incorporate into tiara form (looking at you, Brazilian Aquamarine Tiara), but this one's a great example.

Is this an aquamarine favorite for you?

Photos: Hello/Getty Images

Royal Antennae of the Day: June 26

On the second day of their state visit to Poland, Queen Máxima wore a...thing...on her head. 
Presented without comment.
Okay, one comment: HEEHEEHEE.
Okay, two comments: I like to imagine Willem-Alexander spent the whole day attempting to remain on her safe side, free of potential eye stabbing hazards. Look how delighted he is, standing there with two successfully un-stabbed eyes.
Okay, three comments: I had to seek it out on video to believe it was real, and you can click here if you require the same.

Photos: NOS video

25 June 2014

Royal State Visit of the Day: June 25

King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima are on a state visit to Poland, arriving yesterday.
State visits are a time for diplomacy...and a time for maximum sparkle wattage. A win-win situation. Queen Magpie wasted no time getting to the point on this Polish state visit, sporting a pair of diamond and ruby earrings in their longest possible form, her Tutti Frutti-style bracelet, and a ruby and diamond brooch on the shoulder of her fantastic pink dress for her arrival.
It's a lot of big jewelry for the daytime, I'll give you that, but I see how she got there. The length of the earrings balances the width of the hat, the brooch is the perfect scale to emphasize the shoulder detail, and the thick bracelet is a nice balance for the hand that stays ungloved for most of the time. (She removes one of her gloves so that she can shake hands, not because she thinks she's Michael Jackson, by the way.)

And now comes a rare statement from me: I think the day outfit was a bigger highlight than the tiara appearance in the evening. I KNOW. I have come to the conclusion that, purple though it is, this repeated Benito Fernandez dress and all its varied design details is not my favorite. I suspect it breaks the #1 commandment for gala gowns: Thou Shalt Not Detract From The Jewels.

Video: The banquet
Thankfully there's always solace in sparkle, and the Ruby Peacock Tiara will sparkle no matter what you pair it with.

Photo: Adam Nurkiewicz via Getty Images

24 June 2014

Royal Outfits of the (National) Day: June 24

National Day in Luxembourg was celebrated yesterday with a military parade, a Te Deum, and a gala reception drawing multiple members of the grand ducal family.
National Day began with a tense debate between the two leading ladies over the rights to wear dodgy hot pink outfits. Or so I like to think it did, at least.
The Hereditary Grand Duchess won out at the military parade, with a Libélula coat that I like on the whole (the Duchess of Cambridge wore the same style in black once upon a time) and a hat that seriously looked like a fuchsia peppermint candy from afar. (Which would have been kind of awesome, to be honest.)

And the Grand Duchess won out for the Te Deum later, repeating the Armani outfit she wore to Prince Félix's wedding last year. Dodgy based on excessive levels of shine alone, though I will give her that it looks less shiny on video.
And then the pink was long gone and it was time for tiaras! Maria Teresa repeated the exact same dress and aquamarine tiara we saw from her the last time she got tiara'd up, but you can always count on Stéphanie to bring something new. In this case, her tiara's a bit like the other floral tiaras in the family, but maybe not quite, so it might be something we haven't seen before. (Update: This is a never-before-seen tiara, with a butterfly motif, likely a modern piece.) I often have quibbles with Stéphanie's styling, but she's been on a mission to try new tiaras since she got married and I do love her little magpie soul for that.

Photos: Wort.lu video, and Anouk Antony/Wort.lu

23 June 2014

Royal Outfits of the Day: June 23

Crown Princess Victoria was up to some stuff last week. Some good-looking sartorial stuff, that is. A double shot to start off our week...

Crown Princess Victoria attended the installation of a new archbishop, wearing a white L.K. Bennett dress.
I loved this dress back when the Duchess of Cambridge wore it (in blue) and I love it in white too. I also love a big hat and a black and white combo, even though I'm not entirely sold on this hat with this dress. But I give it a thumbs up anyway.

Then, she and Daniel headed off for a trip to gorgeous Iceland, and we saw...wait for it...that H&M Conscious Collection dress! Yes, the one that both she and Mette-Marit own. Again. Different color this time, but I think I'm partial to the darker version. Still, I can't fault her for spotting a princess-worthy dress and scooping it up in as many versions as she can get. Once again, I come down on the thumbs up side of things.

Photos: LK Bennett/Aftonbladet TV/SVT video/@crownprincely

19 June 2014

The Spanish Proclamation: The Main Event

Video: A short look above,
or click here for a full replay (I'm not sure if it will be up permanently)
It was a great day for a Proclamation in Spain – the sun was shining, the crowds were cheering, and King Felipe VI is officially on the throne. While I attempt to break my habit of writing “Princess Letizia”, let’s recap the sartorial side of the royal family’s big day.

Felipe has a commanding presence as king, don’t you think? Being dressed to the nines in his army gala uniform with his newly awarded red Captain General sash doesn’t hurt, obviously. He gave a strong speech that received a worthy (and lengthy) standing ovation, and that was just part of the warm welcome the royal family received today.

I felt like yesterday was about Juan Carlos and today was about Felipe, and I think Queen Letizia’s outfit choices have reflected that focus well. Today she chose a sleek white coat and dress with a hint of sparkly embellishment at the collar, needless to say from her favorite designer Felipe Varela. It was more formal than her usual choices, but not a drastic attention-grabbing departure from the style for which she is known. The collar added a patriotic touch with hints of red and yellow in the decoration, but not on a level that would make you wonder if she’d gotten lost on the way home from the World Cup. She avoided big jewelry but did add the small bow decoration of the Order of Charles III as a nod to the formality of the occasion. All in all, she walked a fine line and she walked it well, and unless she drops an enormously fabulous tiara appearance on us in the months to come, this will be a strong contender for her best of the year.

The brand new Princess of Asturias (Leonor) seemed a bit bemused by the extra attention, as did her sister Infanta Sofia, but they were both on their very best behavior. They wore matching outfits in different colors (pink for Leonor, blue for Sofia) with a little bit of fun in the hair department in the form of braids for Leonor and a sparkly dragonfly headband for Sofia. An A+ appearance if there ever was one.

Queen Sofia received her own well-deserved standing ovation during the Proclamation, and she sweetly accepted the affection in a sleek yellow ensemble with pearl and ruby jewelry (the pendant on her necklace belonged to her mother, Queen Frederika). She was supported by Infanta Elena, who wore cream and was spotted dropping a graceful curtsey to her brother. Also present at the Congress, and you can pick them out above, were Juan Carlos’ sisters Infantas Pilar and Margarita, plus Sofia’s siblings Princess Irene and King Constantine (with wife Queen Anne-Marie).

This was the rare day where there were no royal outfit flops to be found. Everyone was appropriate and everyone looked fantastic, and that really allowed the true purpose of the day to shine through. Well played, Spain.

P.S.: We won't have our regular post on Friday. Ascot is still happening over at the Vault, if you haven't checked in there.

Photos: RTVE video

18 June 2014

The Spanish Proclamation: The Abdication

Juan Carlos I ended his reign today, as he signed the bill of abdication in the grand Hall of Columns at the Royal Palace. The bill goes into effect (and Felipe becomes king) at midnight. (...and, as an update after my initial posting, it now is past midnight in Spain, so the change is official!)

Video: The abdication
The ceremony was short but moving, and extended applause greeted the King as he symbolically switched chairs with his son after the signing.
The King appeared quite unsteady on his feet and accepted a kiss on the cheek from an elegantly dressed Queen Sofia after the signing, before embracing his son.
It was, as expected, an understated occasion (although as it was pointed out in the live post, you can't help but have a regal event in this setting). In keeping with that, Letizia wore a repeated dress from Felipe Varela.
She did, however, use the diamond earrings she wore on her wedding day. They were a gift from the King and Queen, so it's not only a nice upgrade for a special occasion, but a nice nod to her in-laws.
Rounding out the family party, a pair of slightly squirmy infantas (judging by their mother's reactions, that is) sat to the side with Infanta Elena. Behind them sat the King's two sisters, Infanta Pilar and Infanta Margarita.

Stay tuned for updates from Thursday's proclamation! If you'd like to watch live, you can comment here on the open post.

Photos: CasaRealTV/Felipe Varela

The Spanish Proclamation: Open Post

As promised, this is your open post for discussion of the abdication of Juan Carlos I and the proclamation of Felipe VI, if you're watching live. For the timeline, click here.

Live Streams:
(Feel free to add more in the comments!)

Tiara Thursday (on a Wednesday): Infanta Pilar's Sapphire Tiara

Programming Note: Juan Carlos abdicates today. We'll have an open post up later for those that want to watch live. Also, because of the abundance of events happening in the non-British royal world right now, Ascot coverage this year will be entirely at the Vault, where things are already up and running.
Before the action in Spain kicks off, let's take care of our weekly tiara dosage...

We have another Spanish tiara to add to our list, just in time for the switchover to a new king.
Infanta Pilar's Sapphire Tiara, shown upside down as worn by Laura Ponte
They aren't often seen at tiara-wearing events in Spain, but there are tiaras associated with both of King Juan Carlos' sisters nevertheless. Today's sapphire tiara is primarily associated with Infanta Pilar, the eldest of the siblings. The tiara features a small sapphire at the heart of each of a series of diamond loops with a scalloped edge detail. These are connected at the base with diamond swags accented with a single sapphire.
The tiara enters the Spanish sphere with Pilar's mother, the Countess of Barcelona. She was born Princess María de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies; her mother was Princess Louise of Orléans, and the tiara is said to have come from the Orléans family originally. It's now thought to belong to Infanta Pilar, who has been its most consistent user for decades. (Her sister Infanta Margarita has also worn it on at least on occasion, though.)
Bárbara (left) and Laura (right)
Unusually for a sapphire tiara, this one also done wedding tiara duty - and it's even done upside down wedding tiara duty, no less. Bárbara Cano wore the tiara in the traditional position for her 2002 wedding to Pilar's son Bruno, and Laura Ponte turned it upside down for her 2004 wedding to Pilar's son Beltrán. It takes a delicate piece to coordinate seamlessly with a bridal outfit and to be successfully worn in an unusual position, and I think this one does the trick.

Does this make your list of favorite sapphire tiaras?

Photos: Hola/Cover Press/Ebay

17 June 2014

Royal Plumage of the Day: June 17

Yesterday was the annual service for the Order of the Garter, an occasion containing both feathers and capes, which automatically launches it pretty high on the delightful scale. My two standouts:

The Garter getup is quite the costume (you can read more about what they wear and the Queen's gems at the Vault), and it requires a certain amount of panache to pull it off. The Princess Royal handles it like a boss (that's the only way she knows how to handle things, let's be honest) and her brother the Prince of Wales does it well too, but my permanent favorite is Princess Alexandra of Kent. I like Princess Alexandra at any event, but get her in full-on Lady of the Order of the Garter mode, and she's so regal it hurts.
She was sorely missed at last year's service, so I'm extra glad to have her back this year. So elegant! So classy! So many synonyms!
Photo courtesy of the lovely @gabeyslave

In the category of People Who Are Not Princess Alexandra, I have just one thing to say: SOPHIE. Oh, Sophie.
Here's how I imagine this went down...
Edward: "You know, dear, this might be the one day out of the year when you couldn't possibly out-feather me, not even if you tried."
This is the only explanation I will accept.

P.S.: It's a two post day! Keep scrolling.

Photos: Chris Jackson via Getty Images and @gabeyslave

The Spanish Proclamation: Event Details

I've made a few updates to my last information post on the handover between Juan Carlos and Felipe in Spain, but here's the schedule for those that want to watch live. (RTVE.es streams live, and I'm sure there will be other options as well if the events aren't on television in your country.)

All times below are local. Here's a timezone converter.
  • Wednesday, June 18th, 6:00 P.M.: King Juan Carlos signs the bill of abdication.
  • Thursday, June 19th:
    • 9:30 A.M.: King Juan Carlos bestows the sash of Captain General on his son, now Felipe VI.
    • 10:00: The new King and Queen and their two daughters, the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia, depart from the palace.
    • 10:30: They arrive at the Congress. After military honors, the Proclamation begins. The ceremony is followed by a speech from King Felipe and then a military parade. Queen Sofia, Infanta Elena, Infanta Pilar, and Infanta Margarita will be present; King Juan Carlos will stay away so as not to detract attention from the new king. Infanta Cristina won't be there either.
    • 11:30: The royal family departs, returning to the palace where they will appear on the balcony and later hold a reception.
We will have an open post here for those that want to watch live. I'll post it just before the abdication gets started on Wednesday, so if you're planning on watching, stay tuned!

16 June 2014

Royal Balcony Appearance of the Day: June 16

Trooping the Colour, the Queen's official birthday parade, went on in London this weekend. Hats and the upper two-thirds of outfits, here we come:
The Queen and her Duke first, of course (more on her gems at the Vault), followed by her Royal Colonels on horseback. (Shown at right are the Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge, and the Princess Royal. William's in the middle.) Everybody's all very smart and such, not my favorite of the Queen's outfits but there are enough uniforms around her to distract me.

Any time Camilla wears her pink topaz pearl choker, she wins, those are the rules. The Duchess of Cambridge wore a brooch that looked pretty faux to me, but she still stood out as her smart suit was quite a bit smarter than what's going on with Sophie and Eugenie, I'm afraid to say. Yeah, I'm on Blergh Patrol today.

Over on this side of the balcony, we've got a selection of Kents for you, looking very neat and tidy all around. Well, I'm not sure what's happening with Lady Helen's outfit (she's the one in raspberry), but I'm sure it's all very fashion-y. Anyway, it's always nice to see Lady Gabriella (center) hasn't lost her fondness for a proper hat.

And finally, a selection of Gloucesters and some trailing Kents. We could talk about all of them individually but we won't because CAPE ALERT! Princess Michael has arrived. Dramatic (so we know it's still her), but tasteful too. Well played.

P.S.: Garter Day is on tap for tomorrow!

Photos: BBC1 video

13 June 2014

Royal Family Gathering of the Day: June 13

Video: The Danish royal family gathered at their French residence Château de Cayx to celebrate Prince Henrik's 80th birthday.
My favorite dress on Mary? Nah. Mostly because I am generally opposed to wimpy belting. Not a bad number for lounging around one's château, though.
The maxi dress is from Ilse Jacobsen, available in a variety of colors
It did give the whole family picture a bit of needed color, so credit for that.

We also must mention that there's a new portrait of Prince Henrik out in honor of his 80th. By photographer Jacob Jørgensen, the photo art depicts Henrik riding a unicorn. OH YES. See it, plus an article on the intentions behind it (basically, Henrik has a good sense of humor and a great love for art, and the idea comes from one of his own artworks) at Royalista (link). Not only does this totally capture the spirit of Henrik (and is really well done), but frankly I'd be more interested in royal portraiture on the whole if more mythical creatures were involved. Where's my picture of QEII fighting a dragon, artists of the world? Hmm?

Photos: Ilse Jacobsen/Fashionola/Amazon/Getty Images by Patric Aventurier

12 June 2014

Tiara Thursday: Queen Maria Christina’s Cartier Loop Tiara

The Fleur de Lys Tiara is the Spanish royal family’s best-known large tiara, but it’s not the only big one they have to pick from. Today’s tiara is nearing the same size, and it is also a piece chock-full of Spanish royal history.
Queen Maria Christina's Cartier Loop Tiara
Made of diamonds and pearls set in platinum and reportedly made by Cartier, this large tiara was a wedding present to Archduchess Maria Christina of Austria (1858-1929) for her 1879 wedding to King Alfonso XII of Spain. It features round pearls at the center of upright diamond loops, each loop composed of an inner ring of large round diamonds and a thinner outer ring. More round pearls top the tiara between each loop and in the very center.
Maria Christina (l), Maria de las Mercedes (r)
The tiara passed to Queen Maria Cristina’s son, Alfonso XIII. It does not seem to have been used by his wife, Queen Victoria Eugenia, and Alfonso XIII gave it to Princess Maria de las Mercedes of Bourbon-Two Sicilies (1910-2000) when she married their son Infante Juan, Count of Barcelona, in 1935. (The Count and Countess of Barcelona were the parents of King Juan Carlos.) As Countess of Barcelona, Maria de las Mercedes used the tiara herself and loaned it to her family as well. Queen Sofia, before she became queen, loaned it early on for the 1971 celebrations in Persepolis of the Persian Empire’s 2500th anniversary.
Pilar (l), Simoneta (r)
The Loop Tiara was worn by the Countess of Barcelona’s daughter, Infanta Pilar, on her wedding day in 1967 and by Pilar’s daughter Simoneta for her own wedding in 1990. Infanta Pilar also wore the tiara during a 1988 state visit from Queen Elizabeth II. Many thought the tiara to be Pilar’s property, particularly after the death of the Countess of Barcelona in 2000. But everybody was in for a surprise when Queen Sofia showed up at a banquet during a state visit to Norway in 2006 wearing, for the first known time since 1971, none other than Queen Maria Christina’s Cartier Loop Tiara. She has worn it for a few other state occasions in the years since. Some speculated that perhaps King Juan Carlos had bought the tiara from his sister Pilar, or some other sort of arrangement between the siblings had been made – but perhaps the more likely scenario is that reports of Pilar’s ownership were mistaken, and the tiara passed to Juan Carlos after his mother’s death.
This tiara is the last of the set of tiaras worn by Sofia as queen to be featured here, just in time for the throne to change hands: the Prussian Diamond Tiara, the Spanish Floral Tiara, the Mellerio Shell Tiara, the Niarchos Rubies, the Cartier Diamond and Pearl Tiara, Queen Maria Christina’s Cartier Loop Tiara, and the Fleur de Lys Tiara.

Which of the collection is your favorite?

Photos: AOP/Corbis/Pool/Hola

Royal Outfit of the Day (with a Bonus Tiara Watch!): June 12

Crown Princess Mette-Marit attended the AmfAR Inspiration Gala in New York this week.
Well, it made the celeb red carpet rounds, and now this dress is making the royal rounds - first on Crown Princess Victoria, now here on her Scandinavian neighbor Mette-Marit. I'm a little disappointed, though...I thought surely if I could count on anyone to deliver a fierce shoe with this dress, it would be my dear M-M, but instead she's delivered Just Another Nude Shoe. Le sigh.
So, who's next? Mary? She's a fan of the H&M Conscious Collection, maybe she'll go for it.

After royally repeating in New York, she popped back home to participate in a state visit from Germany. And you know what that means: Tiaras Ahoy! Last night, the gala dinner was held. (Click here for a video, or here's an article with a full length Mette-Marit picture.) Queen Sonja wore Queen Maud's Pearl and Diamond Tiara, Mette-Marit was in her usual barely-there Diamond Daisy Tiara, and Princess Astrid wore her delightfully wacky Gold Bandeau.
What we learn here is that Mette-Marit is a big fan of the Pia Tjelta by Ti Mo collection. We've already seen her in two floral dresses from the line. Now, this gala dress is a customized version of the white dress seen at right above (in a tiered full length, with a shorter sleeve) - and she already has the off the rack version of the white dress too. She's got to have an entire closet devoted to white dresses at this point, right? Not that I'm complaining. This Nordic princess wears the pristine color like no other.

Photos: Kevin Tachman/Getty Images and H&M and MSN Video and by TiMo

11 June 2014

Royal Garden Party of the Day: June 11

At Buckingham Palace yesterday, the Queen hosted a garden party with several members of the royal family in attendance.
And who was the best dressed royal at the garden party, you ask?
The birthday boy, of course! The Duke of Edinburgh turned 93 yesterday, and he's still one of the most debonair royals around. Look at this coordinating tie/boutonnière/top hat game! And on a gray morning suit no less, a very sophisticated color palette. Yes, he takes the bite-sized garden party-appropriate cake here.

The Queen was my second best dressed pick, but that's what my other blog is for, so click here.

And after those two kids comes, well, everybody else. Line up, ladies!
Thank you, very helpful, let's work from left to right: We've got the Duchess of Gloucester, very understated but elegant by default. The Princess Royal seems to be wearing a hat purchased in the last decade for a change, always a delightful surprise, and she's got lovely aquamarine accessories (including a brooch that used to be the central part of her Aquamarine Pineflower Tiara). The Duchess of Cambridge is repeating an outfit I loved the first time around, but she removed the ribbon belt and changed up the hat and accessories. As much as I appreciate trying to shake it up for a repeat...I, uh, really miss the original belt and hat. Oh well. On the bright side, Princess Eugenie's got some shoe interest happening, and that will always cheer me up right quick. Well done.

Photos: British Monarchy instagram and WPA Pool/Getty Images

10 June 2014

Tiara Watch of the Day: June 10

Tiaras haven't been out since 2011 in Spain, but they're back with a vengeance for the last state visit of King Juan Carlos' reign.
The Spanish royal family welcomed the President of Mexico and his spouse for a state visit, including a gala dinner.
Queen Sofia is wearing the Fleur de Lys Tiara - her most significant piece, the biggest possible tiara show she can put on - for the first time in several years. Huzzah! Most of the jewels she's wearing here (tiara, long collet necklace, bracelets, big earrings) are among those intended to be passed from queen to queen per Queen Victoria Eugenia's will. Heckuva last hurrah there, Sofia. Are jumpy claps not dignified enough for this stately queen? I fear not. Standing ovation then.
Meanwhile, Letizia gave us a showing of the Spanish Floral Tiara, one of the prettiest floral tiaras around (in my humble opinion). There's nothing really new here - she's repeated the exact look she wore to the abdication dinner in the Netherlands last year, with added Order of the Aztec Eagle sash from Mexico - but seeing tiaras in Spain once again is such a treat, you'll get no objections from me. (More of this, King Felipe and Queen Letizia. Pretty please?)

Photos: Getty as indicated

09 June 2014

Royal Christening of the Day: June 9

Official photograph, Anna-Lena Ahlström/Kungahuset.se
Princess Leonore of Sweden (daughter of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O’Neill) was christened on her parents’ first wedding anniversary yesterday, and you know what that means: RETURN OF THE BABY SASH.
Yes, Leonore’s grandfather, King Carl Gustaf, gave her the Order of the Seraphim (Sweden’s highest order) and just as he did with Princess Estelle, he made it complete with a miniature sash and badge to add to the antique family christening gown. The most successful royal bid for extra cute points of our time, this is. Keep it up, Sweden.
Official photograph, Anna-Lena Ahlström/Kungahuset.se
Leonore’s entourage went with a coordinated pastel scheme. Both mother Madeleine and grandmother Silvia were in lace dresses from Valentino. A classic blue for Silvia with a Philip Treacy hat and a pink baby doll-type number for Madeleine with a piece of fishnet draped over her face for good measure. (Which I dislike primarily on the grounds that it would annoy me constantly if I wore it, so I’m full of logic as usual today.)
King Carl Gustaf and Prince Carl Philip were in uniform, and Chris and Daniel, like most of the male guests, wore morning suits. Bottom left above: with all the godparents.
Madeleine was radiant, veil and all, and Silvia was elegant, but aunt Victoria was my favorite for the day. She and her partner in crime Princess Estelle showed us that thing that Sweden does particularly well: providing throwbacks to their history without knocking you over the head with the sentimentality. In this case, Estelle was wearing a dress her mother wore back in 1980 and Victoria’s Philip Treacy headpiece was clearly designed to honor the one worn by Queen Silvia for the baptism of Prince Carl Philip in 1979. (Comparisons below.)
Victoria's Dolce & Gabbana dress (with detail) and Krueger Jewellery flower earrings. All royal ladies wore the King's portrait as well..
Truth be told, I like Victoria’s gesture more than the actual result, but her Dolce & Gabbana dress was enough to sell me on the win. Actually, Victoria didn’t have to sell me on it – the work was already done for her the day before, when Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece wore the very same dress to the Epsom Derby.
Memo to Victoria: try this one with a big hat next time. It's a good look.

For more on the christening: a link to the broadcast if you'd like to watch and more details from the weekend post, a big gallery and some video clips from Aftonbladet.

P.S.: It's a two post day! Keep scrolling.

Photos: As indicated and SVT/IBL/Lyst/Krueger Jewellery

Bonus Royal Outfit of the Day: June 9

These days I stick to official events around here, but apparently there's a rare exception for cases of extreme fabulousness, because...
Queen Máxima (along with the King, their daughters, and Princess Beatrix) attended the wedding of her brother Juan this weekend in Vienna.
...wow. Just...wow.

To me, this feels like a dress ordered to do double duty for her official gala business, and I'm already looking forward to seeing it paired with a tiara in the future. But as is, this is glorious. I know some of you might think she overdid it for a family wedding, especially one with the men in morning suits (this reminds me of the Wessex wedding, late enough in the day for gowns on the ladies but without going the black tie route). But I personally love that she gave her brother's wedding the full MAX effect and treated it like the special event that it was.

Photo: Getty Images

07 June 2014

Princess Leonore's Christening: Open Post and Information

Hello, and a happy surprise weekend post to you.

Sweden's Princess Leonore, daughter of Princess Madeleine and Christopher O'Neill and second grandchild of King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia, will be christened on Sunday, June 8.

Several of you have requested an open post for comments if you want to watch live, so here you go. I will also include some information about the event here and we'll have a look at the fashion on Monday morning in our regular post.

Time: 12:00 PM (noon), local Swedish time. That's 6 AM EST. The SVT broadcast is supposed to begin at 11:15 AM local.

Live stream link from SVT:

The broadcast should remain available online after the event, at least for a limited time.

The christening will take place at the chapel at Drottningholm Palace. No foreign royal guests are expected. Leonore will have six godparents: Crown Princess Victoria (sister of Madeleine), Miss Louise Gottlieb (friend of Madeleine), Mr. Patrick Sommerlath (cousin of Madeleine, on her mother's side), Mrs. Tatjana d’Abo (half-sister of Chris), Count Ernst Abensperg und Traun (brother-in-law of Chris), and Miss Alice Bamford (friend of Chris).

Princess Leonore will wear the Bernadotte christening gown, first used in 1906 and most recently used for Princess Estelle's christening. Madeleine of course wore this gown when she was christened.

National Day was on Friday and Leonore got in the spirit, helping her mother and father open the palace dressed in a wee national costume. Dangerous levels of cuteness going on in Sweden right now, is what I'm telling you.
National dress for everybody! (Except the men. They never play along on National Day.) You can see video of the palace opening here, a gallery with Leonore here, and the whole National Day concert (including a carriage ride featuring Estelle) here.

And there you go! Enjoy the christening, and feel free to post about the christening and National Day here if you like.

Photos: Expressen video and SVT video and Kate Gabor/Kungahuset

06 June 2014

Royal News Update (with Bonus Royal Outfit) of the Day: June 6

The week began with Juan Carlos announcing his intent to abdicate the Spanish throne in favor of his son Felipe, and as it draws to a close, we still don’t have a lot of exact details on just how that transition will occur. There hasn’t been a succession (by abdication or otherwise) since the restoration of the monarchy after General Franco (when Juan Carlos became king) or since the constitution was put in place in 1978, so this is a first. The government needs to fast-track some legislation to make this happen.

Juan Carlos’ legacy as a key part of the transition to democracy from dictatorship in Spain will hold in the history books, but at the moment, scandals like the corruption investigation into his son-in-law Iñaki Urdangarín’s business (and daughter Infanta Cristina’s role in it) and the king’s own troubles (getting caught on an elephant hunting trip with his alleged mistress, for example) are grabbing the headlines. Add in things happening outside the monarchy (such as massive unemployment rates, or the coming vote on independence for Catalonia) and you get one very sticky situation. Thousands met the news of the abdication by protesting for a republic.

I mention all of this because I’ve seen a lot of comparisons to last year’s Dutch and Belgian abdications, and it must be acknowledged that the circumstances are very different. Spain’s power switch is shaping up to be very low key from what we know so far, much lower key than in the Netherlands and perhaps even more so than what we saw in Belgium.

Here’s a bit of what we know so far, on just a couple of hot topics (note that things are constantly changing, so there are no guarantees):

Felipe VI’s Proclamation. Currently there are reports that the Palace has confirmed the dates as follows: Juan Carlos will sign the abdication act at the Royal Palace on June 18. Then, on June 19, the proclamation will take place in front of the Cortes Generales. (Updated to add: these dates have been confirmed.) (I should note that many are using the term “coronation” for this event, but know that there’s no actual crowning or anointing going on here.) A video of what this looked like in 1975:

As you can see, at that time Queen Sofia was in a long court dress with sash. The ladies' dress code for what’s to come is unknown at this time. I hope that even if it is an “everyday” dress code, she’ll still have Felipe Varela make her something a little bit special.

There will be no foreign royals at the proclamation, according to the Palace. It remains to be seen how much of the Spanish royal family will be in attendance. (Updated to add: Queen Sofia, Infanta Elena, Infanta Pilar, and Infanta Margarita will be present at the proclamation in addition to the new King and Queen and their two daughters.)

Several days after the proclamation of Juan Carlos, a mass was held and some foreign royals were in attendance. Initial speculation was that Felipe would have something similar, perhaps in July, but it is now being reported that Palace says there will be no such service. As I said, it looks like they’re going an extremely low key route – make the switch and get back to work. And given the current climate that could be the best way to go. (…Yes, even if it disappoints those of us that love the pageantry.)

Title and status changes. Felipe will reign as Felipe VI. His oldest daughter, Infanta Leonor, will automatically become the Princess of Asturias when her father becomes king. It’s not yet known for sure what titles Juan Carlos and Sofia will assume after the abdication. (Updated to add: it has been confirmed that they will retain the titles of King and Queen.) On another note, the King will lose the legal immunity he enjoyed as sovereign. This could have interesting implications; a couple of paternity lawsuits were dismissed a few years ago because of his immunity. (Updated to add: it seems the government might be exploring some form of immunity for the King after abdication after all.)

Infantas Elena and Cristina, the daughters of Juan Carlos, will no longer be members of the official royal family, meaning they won’t partake in official engagements. (This pertains to official business only, not personal family relationships.) This is nothing new (the two sisters of Juan Carlos have a similar status now) and nothing unique (other royal houses, such as the Dutch, also limit the size of the royal house by degree of relationship to the monarch). Infanta Cristina has basically been removed from all of this already due to the corruption scandal.

Introductory visits. As we've seen with the other new sovereign couples, Felipe and Letizia will be making short visits abroad after the transition - France, Morocco, and Portugal are on tap for this summer. They'll also be present in Belgium in August for the World War I centenary commemoration.

Jewels. As you've gathered by now, these transitional events will not be opportunities for big jewelry. But the future of the Spanish jewelry collection is interesting to ponder; Queen Victoria Eugenia designated some jewels to be passed down and worn by future queens, including the big Fleur de Lys Tiara and some other important pieces. We can assume these will be given to Letizia for her use (though when, or if, she would wear something like the big tiara is a different question). But many of the tiaras used regularly by the Spanish ladies were gifts to Queen Sofia and are, as far as we know, still her personal property (including the Floral Tiara, the Mellerio Shell, and the Prussian Diamond, plus the Niarchos rubies). There might not be a change here, but it will be interesting how this is dealt with in the future.

So there you go, just a few points of interest. With that information (or lack of information) out of the way, let’s have an outfit to look at, shall we?
The Prince and Princess of Asturias attended an awards presentation in Navarra this week.
This was the couple’s first joint appearance after the big news. I might have picked a different style for the jacket, since this one’s a little formal for a tropical print, but I love that Letizia went with something happy and bright. Even if nothing else is cheery, dang it, her dress will be! That’s the spirit.

P.S.: 88-year-old QEII is on a mission to show us all up in the energy department during her state visit to France, and you can head over to the Jewel Vault for complete coverage of that. You can also head over there to discuss any royal appearances at the D-Day services today!

05 June 2014

Tiara Thursday: The Ruby Dragonfly Tiara

The Ruby Dragonfly Tiara
Here's a tiara for your favorite insect aficionado: made of diamonds studded with rubies, the design features plants and dragonflies. The dragonflies can be detached and used as brooches, and they are set en tremblant on the tiara. They can also be reattached to the tiara at different angles, as you can see from the photo in use below. The tiara is potentially from Chaumet, likely of French make at least, and dates from around 1900. All of that puts it right at the heart of the Art Nouveau movement and with its fluid design and nature motif, it fits right in.
The Duchess of Castro
Its exact history is unknown, but it was auctioned by Sotheby's in 1999. Luckily for those of us that like to see tiaras in action, this one soon found a home in the collection of the Duchess of Castro, née Camilla Crociani. (Another auctioned piece now in her collection: the Ancona Tiara.) Married to a claimant to the headship of the House of Bourbon-Two Sicilies, she does attend some large scale European royal events, and wore this for the pre-wedding celebrations of Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark and Mary Donaldson in 2004 and for the evening ball celebrating the wedding of Prince Albert II of Monaco and Charlene Wittstock in 2011. The tiara does tend to disappear somewhat in her blond hair, but the big ruby and diamond necklace she wears with it let you know what to look for.
Long time readers will know that I am not an insect enthusiast. Far, far from it. So in this case, while I can appreciate the craftsmanship and the design, in the end I must say: Bugs = No.

Do the dragonflies sway your opinion?

Photos: Sotheby's/dpa

Royal Outfits of the Day: June 5

Crown Princess Victoria presented the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award earlier this week in a dress from Preen, shoes from By Malene Birger, and an enamel cuff from Sophie by Sophie.
I started in with the mini jumpy claps the second I saw this little number - I have adored it in celeb appearances (Katherine Jenkins and Melonie Diaz, for example) and am so happy to see it on the royal runway! It's from Preen and it's colorful and geometric and delightful. And, bonus, Victoria let the playfulness of the dress infiltrate her accessory choices, with blue shoes plus an orange bracelet and clutch. These are the things that make me happy.

If you prefer something a little more classic, Victoria had a really lovely appearance at the Bernadotte Art Awards (here's a gallery with a full length view, plus an amusing look at Carl Gustaf considering just what he's supposed to do about his wife's runaway dress). She was wearing this dress from the H&M Conscious Collection:
And while this one has also had its fair share of red carpet appearances (Emmy Rossum, Leticia Dolera), it's also pretty princess perfect. A good little run of outfits from Victoria, no?

Photos: ALMA Video/ALMA Twitter/Lyst/By Malene Birger/Sophie by Sophie/H&M

04 June 2014

Tiara Watch of the Day: June 4

The Dutch royal family hosted a dinner for Prince Albert II of Monaco, who is on a two day visit to the country. 
Could Máxima have convinced Charlene to wear a tiara to a royal event?? Alas, the biggest burning question we had for this dinner will remain unanswered because Charlene stayed home. But if by any chance you were dying to know what tiara Kermit would pick if Kermit had a tiara to pick - well then, it's your lucky day. Emeralds, darling!
Máxima's gown is from Lanvin, and retails for $5,845.
I need a wand, fairy godmother style, so I can magically redistribute some of that shoulder fabric to the lower half of this Lanvin dress where the sizing just isn't quite right, and then some more over there on the side to cover up that terrible zipper detail. But other than that, I'm all for seeking out dresses intended for a particular tiara, and this looks like it was chosen specifically as an excuse to wear the family's emerald tiara (and emerald earrings, necklace, brooch at the waist, and bracelets, of course).
Also picking a tiara not usually on her roster is Princess Beatrix, who went for the Dutch Sapphire Necklace Tiara, to which I say YAY! Sure, you can barely see it, but any day with an outing of one of my very favorite sapphire tiaras is still a good day.

For more: here's one gallery, and here's another.

Photos: Getty Images/Lyst/Net-a-porter