The ladies of the royal family wore jewelry with special significance and personal connections to Queen Elizabeth II at her state funeral in Westminster Abbey on Monday.
Some of the pieces had been loaned to members of the royal family by the Queen. Camilla, Queen Consort, wore a historical diamond and sapphire piece from the royal family's collection — a brooch known as the "Hesse Jubilee Diamond Brooch" that was once owned by Queen Victoria. Catherine, Princess of Wales, (more commonly known by her maiden name, Kate Middleton) wore a four-row pearl choker and the Bahrain pearl drop earrings that were worn in the past by the Queen and Princess Diana. (In a sweet touch, she wore the same set of jewelry to the funeral of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, on April 17, 2021.)
The jewelry was identified by Lauren Kiehna, who chronicles the collections of the world's royal families on her website, the Court Jeweller. Kiehna explained the significance of the Queen's practice of loaning jewelry to BuzzFeed News.
"The Queen shared jewelry with other members of her family largely as a way to provide them with the pieces they needed to wear for important occasions," Kiehna said. "I do think there's sometimes some sentimental resonance involved with some of the loans, which were usually given on a long-term basis."
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and Princess Charlotte of Wales, however, wore jewelry that had been gifted to them by the Queen.
Here's a closer look at the jewelry that Camilla, Kate, Meghan, and Charlotte wore:
Camilla wore the Hesse Diamond Jubilee Brooch, a piece that was gifted to Queen Victoria by a group of her grandchildren — specifically, those descended from her daughter Princess Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse and by Rhine — to honor her Diamond Jubilee in June 1897. As the Court Jeweller notes, the piece features the Cyrillic numeral 60 (for Victoria's 60 years on the throne) in diamonds and three cabochon sapphires.
Kate wore the Bahrain pearl drop earrings, which were made from pearls that then-Princess Elizabeth received as a wedding gift from the Hakim of Bahrain upon her marriage to Lt. Philip Mountbatten. She wore them frequently in the early part of her reign. She loaned them to Princess Diana on several formal occasions during her marriage to then-Prince Charles. Since then, the earrings have been worn by the Queen as well as her daughter-in-law, Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Forfar. However, they've been primarily worn by Kate in the past few years — most notably to Philip's funeral last year.
This unusual four-row pearl choker was created by Garrard Jewelers, possibly from pearls acquired by the crown during the Queen's state visit to Japan in1971. The Queen has worn it on several occasions over the years, particularly in settings that require tiaras. She loaned it to Princess Diana in 1982 for a state dinner — and Diana wore it with the Bahrain pearl drop earrings. Kate has previously worn it to an anniversary party for the Queen and Philip in 2017, and at Philip's funeral last year.
The Queen gave Meghan the earrings she wore on Wednesday on June 14, 2018, shortly before they both attended an official engagement in Halton, England.
The Duchess of Sussex told Oprah in the March 2021 interview that she and the Queen were traveling to the engagement by train when the monarch gifted her “beautiful pearl earrings and a matching necklace.”
“We had breakfast together that morning, and she’d given me a beautiful gift. I just really love being in her company,” Meghan said.
Buckingham Palace confirmed on Monday that a diamond horseshoe brooch worn by Charlotte was a gift to her from her great-grandmother the Queen, whom she and her siblings called "Gan-Gan." The Queen's love of horses was one of the defining constants throughout her life.
(As the Court Jeweller notes, the Queen's granddaughter Lady Louise Windsor wore a necklace with a pendant of a horse head on it to the Queen's funeral.)
Kiehna told BuzzFeed News that she thought the jewelry was appropriate and symbolic for the historic event.
"There were pieces with lots of connections to the memory of the late Queen, as well as pieces that reinforce the history of the family and the monarchy," she said. "So much of what we've seen in recent days has been about reinforcing the continuity of the monarchy, and the jewelry helped to serve as a reminder of the legacy that the royal family will be working to continue."