Queen Camilla is wearing her first tiara in her new royal role.
Camilla brought out the dazzling piece for Charles’ first state visit as King, welcoming Cyril Ramaphosa, the President of South Africa, to the U.K. The tiara was previously owned by the late Queen Elizabeth II, who wore the sparkler to Singapore in 1989 and for China’s state visit to the U.K. in 2015.
Continuing to wear royal blue as she did earlier in the day, Queen Camilla looked regal in a lace evening gown by Bruce Oldfield and royal regalia — the blue Order of the Garter sash plus Dame Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order star and sash. She further accessorized with the Belgian Sapphire Tiara’s coordinating necklace and bracelet.
While Camilla opted not to wear the designated earrings, the whole set together is known as the King George VI Victorian Suite. King George gave his daughter, then-Princess Elizabeth, the tiara, necklace and earrings as a wedding gift in 1947. The jewels are believed to date back to the mid-1800s, with the bracelet added to the suite in the 1960s.
The Queen Consort has historically had a bolder taste in tiaras than Kate Middleton, who sported her go-to Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot tiara for the state banquet. While the Princess of Wales has worn the Queen Mary’s Lover’s Knot and Lotus Flower for previous state occasions, Camilla has chosen the larger Delhi Durbar and Greville Tiara for diplomatic dinners.
The tiara wear is a first for the British royals in nearly three years. Due to pandemic-related delays, the South African state visit is the first hosted by the British royal family since then-U.S. President Donald Trump came to the U.K. in 2019.
Intrigue continues to shroud what crown Camilla might wear for her husband’s coronation this spring. Buckingham Palace previously confirmed that the Queen Consort will be crowned beside King Charles on May 6, 2023.
The obvious choice — the crown made for the coronation of the last Queen Consort, Charles’ grandmother Queen Elizabeth (later known as the Queen Mother to avoid confusion with her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II) in 1937 — contains the controversial Koh-i-Nûr diamond as its centerpiece. The 105.6-carat gem was initially acquired by the then-East India Company and brought to Britain, where it ended up as part of Queen Victoria’s collection. Demands have grown in India for the magnificent diamond to be returned, and the Koh-i-Nûr is also subject to ownership claims in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Since the gem is completely detachable (as is the velvet cap usually worn for the coronation service), King Charles and Queen Camilla might choose to remove the controversial gem completely. It’s also possible that they will opt for a different crown completely.
A royal source confirmed that President Ramaphosa’s three-day stay was on the calendar before Queen Elizabeth died “peacefully” on Sept. 8.
Prince William and Kate Middleton, both 40, welcomed the South African leader at London’s Corinthia Hotel earlier on Tuesday. They then traveled to Horse Guards Parade, where the full pageantry of the British state was on display as King Charles III and Queen Camilla made the official welcome.
The royals then took place in a royal carriage procession through London to Buckingham Palace, where a private lunch was held and President Ramaphosa viewed an exhibition in the Picture Gallery of items from the Royal Collection related to South Africa.
In the afternoon, President Ramaphosa visited Westminster Abbey to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior and take a tour, including viewing the memorial stone for Nelson Mandela, who served as South Africa’s president between 1994 and 1999.
Ramaphosa also visited the Palace of Westminster, where he delivered an address in the Royal Gallery to members of the houses of Parliament and other guests.
Courtiers gave a glimpse into the preparations for the state banquet on social media Monday. The Royal Family Twitter posted footage of the culinary team hard at work, showing a chef recreating South Africa’s national flower, the Protea, into sweet confections to be served at the end of the evening.
The menu for the diplomatic dinner has also been circulated, and guests are in for a treat. The palace will serve grilled brill with wild mushrooms and truffles with sorrel sauce, followed by ballotine of Windsor pheasant filled with artichokes, quince compote and port sauce. Vegetable sides include an assortment of Chantenay Carrots, kale with roasted butternut squash and braised fondant potatoes, plus salad.
For dessert, an iced vanilla parfait with caramelized apples will be served alongside coffee, petit fours and the edible sugar Protea flowers. A selection of French wines will also flow throughout the evening.
In a sustainable nod to the season, the Royal Family Twitter gave a peek into the prep for the floral arrangements that grace tables in the ballroom. The foliage comes from the gardens of Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle, plus crab apples from Kent.
As seen in a quick clip, the King and Queen even popped into the ballroom before the banquet to check out the splendor for themselves.