From Town & Country
When Lady Diana Spencer joined the British royal family, the world wanted a princess, and, at least fora while, she delivered. Her glamorous wardrobe was unrivaled, and even when her outfits weren’t bespoke, they were rarely by any stretch affordable. But over the past three decades the Windsor brand has shifted to a much more approachable aesthetic, one that’s more casual and less extravagant. It’s not uncommon today to see the Duchess of Cambridge wearing Zara jeans, or the Duchess of Sussex carrying a Cuyana bag.
“I think the idea of Diana being a princess and dressing the way you’d think a princess would, with all the fanciful clothing and jewelry, in comparison with Kate being somewhat frugal, has been a real shift,” says Elizabeth Holmes, who wrote this month’s cover feature and whose book HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style is out November 17.
While the clothes the members of the royal family wear may have become more accessible, it’s still a family tradition to go big when it comes to jewelry. And the moments when the younger generation of Windsors breakout those big jewels are significant: They use those occasions to help shape the public narrative about their family.
“Royal jewelry is beautiful, yes, but it’s also saying something,” Holmes says.“The minute any of these women step out of the car, we see pictures around the world in seconds. And what you notice first is what they’re wearing. They use that. It’s very savvy and it’s very smart, and it’s worth paying attention to.”
Few pieces show the way the Windsors use jewelry as more than adornment better than the Lover’s Knot tiara. Originally commissioned by Queen Mary from Britain’s House of Garrard in 1913, the headpiece features 19baroque pearls as well as brilliant- and rose-cut diamonds set in a repeated motif of heart-shaped knots. It was inherited by Queen Elizabeth in 1953, and though she has worn the tiara on multiple occasions, it’s best known asa favorite of Diana’s—and, now, a go-to for the Duchess of Cambridge on formal occasions.
“When you see a tiara that the queen has worn, that Diana has worn, and then to see it on Kate, it’s a reminder that these are all three women operating within the same royal family,” Holmes says, noting that it’s strategic for the queen to invoke Diana’s memory by lending the piece to Kate. “You see the continuity.”
While the Lover’s Knot is the queen’s to lend as she chooses, both Kate and Meghan Markle also have pieces of Diana’s in their own personal collections, which were given to them by their husbands. They have the power, Holmes says, to “pull on those nostalgic heartstring moments.” Markle’s something blue at her wedding reception, for example, was Diana’s aquamarine cocktail ring; in her first official appearance after the Duchess announced she was expecting her first child, she wore her