On 11th May the President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, is schedule to pay a State Visit to the Kingdom of Norway. According to the original plans His Majesty King Harald V would be hosting the President at the Royal Palace. However, on 8th May a press release from the Royal Palace stated that His Majesty had been admitted to hospital due to an infection that needed treatment. The press release went on to say that it was expected that the King might have to remain in hospital for a few days.
A new press release today stated that the King’s situation is improving but that he will be on sick leave for the rest of this week. It is thus very likely that the role of host will be taken on by His Royal Highness the Crown Prince.
There have not been many Italian State Visits to Norway since Norway gained its full independence in 1905. In fact, the first one did not take place until 60 years after the independence, in 1965, when President Saragat paid a State Visit and was received by King Olav V. To read more about this visit you are welcome to visit my page on it by pressing here. Very unusually at that time it only contained one tiara event; the State Banquet. But it was a very stylish event with the King’s daughter acting as hostess wearing some of the splendid jewels in the possession of the Norwegian Royal Family.
The only other State Visit from Italy until now took place in 2004 when President Ciampi arrived in Oslo together with his wife to be received by His Majesty King Harald V and Her Majesty Queen Sonja.
Again there was a glittering State Banquet, this time with three Royal ladies present; the Queen, the Crown Princess and Princess Astrid, Mrs Ferner. Hopefully the same three ladies will be able to attend the planned State Banquet on the upcoming State Visit too.
On 13th February the King of Malaysia opened the Malaysian Parliament with much pomp and ceremony. His Majesty arrived the Parliament building by car preceded by an escort of police on motorbikes and a white car with a small detachment of soldiers. Due to their red uniforms I suspect they are from the Malaysian Royal Armoured Corps and the Ceremonial Mounted Squadron. The car with the King and Queen followed next with another white car with more Royal guards in their splendid red uniforms.
A Royal fanfare sounded as the car approached the Parliament entrance. Here Their Majesties and a few members of the King’s family were met by the Prime Minister of Malaysia Anwar Ibrahim and his wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, herself a Member of Parliament. The Prime Minister wore his white uniform of office with several Orders. Around his neck could be seen the Collar of the Order of Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang. This was no doubt to honour the King who is also the current Sultan of Pahang. Pinned on his white uniform tunic was the Breast Star of the same Order. Across his chest he wore a Sash like that which is listed according to Wikipedia as awarded to Knight Commanders of the Penang Order of the Defender of State (thin blue line – yellow line – another blue line – white centre line – blue line – yellow line – thin blue line). However, also according to among others Wikipedia, the Prime Minister has been awarded the Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Defender of the State – which is listed as having a different combination of those three colours. So either the colour combination of the Sash of this Order has changed since the Wikipedia article was published, or the Prime Minister was wearing the Sash of a Knight Commander of the Order although he actually has a higher degree of the Order. Also pinned to his tunic was the Breast Star of the Order of Loyalty to Negeri Sembilan (Knight Grand Commander, 1994) and the Breast Star of the Order of Cura Si Manja Kini (the Perak Sword of State) (Grand Knight, 1995).
Also included in the party welcoming the Royal Family were the Speaker of the Senate (aka State Assembly) and the Speaker of the House of Representatives (aka People’s Assembly). They were both dressed in magnificent gold embroidered robes of state. Representatives from the judicial system were also present.
The King looked every inch the Majesty in his regalia. Though the Malaysian regalia do not include a crown they do include a special headdress called the Tengkolok Diraja made of black silk embroidered with gold thread. Pinned to the front of the royal headdress is a diamond ornament in the shape of a crescent moon and a 14-pointed star. In addition to this headdress the King wore the black tunic embroidered in gold called the Muskat now also part of the regalia. In his belt with the large golden Royal Buckle he wore the Keris Pendek Diraja, one of the two short blades which are part of the regalia. The second blade is the gold hilted Keris Panjang Diraja the King wore in his hand. His Majesty also wore a couple of Orders, the most prominent being the one of the Royal Family of Malaysia of which the King wore the Collar, Sash and Breast Star. Established in 1966 the Order is only conferred upon the rulers who serve the five years tenure as King of Malaysia. It is therefore a very exclusive Order and currently there are only four living recipients including the current King. In addition the King wore the Breast Star of the highest Order of his own sultanate; the Royal Family Order of Pahang. On the left side of his tunic he also wore a portrait of his late father, Sultan Ahmad Shah.
Once more the royal jewellery watchers – like myself – were given another splendid view of the Queen of Malaysia’s tiara (aka Gendik Diraja) as Her Majesty wore it on top of her tudong (headscarf) covering her hair. The Queen’s gown was of a pale green colour and looked very elegant on her. In addition to the diamonds in the tiara the Queen was seen wearing two diamond necklaces. The one being a bit longer included the State Emblem of Pahang as the centre motive and from the shorter one was fastened a diamond heart pendant. Pinned close to her shoulders were brooches in the form of delicate butterflies, one on each side. Her Majesty was also wearing the Collar and Breast Star of the Order of the Crown of the Realm which she had been awarded in 2019.
After the King and Queen had been duly greeted the welcoming party followed Their Majesties through to a dais facing an open space where a guard of honour from the 1st Battalion Royal Malay Regiment was lined up. Orders were cried out to present arms and then the National Anthem was played while the standards were lowered and the King saluted. At the same time a royal 21-gun salute was heard. His Majesty then proceeded to inspect the guard of honour accompanied by two of his Aides-de-Camp and the guard of honour’s officer. The Aides-de-Camp looked handsome in their uniforms, both donning the Sash and Breast Star as Knight Companion of the Order of the Crown of Pahang. Unfortunately I have not been able to discover their names. If anyone has some more information about them or in fact any of the court officials to the King, I would be very interested in learning more about them.
Having inspected the guard of honour the King returned to the dais and once more the Malaysian National Anthem was played. Protected from the sunlight by two large yellow umbrellas the King and Queen then made their way inside the Parliament building accompanied by a retinue.
The Members of Parliament gathered in the large Debating Chamber awaiting the arrival of the King and Queen. Most of them, if not all, wearing their uniform of office with colourful Sashes and gleaming Collars of their different Orders. It is indeed a wonderful sight and so different from the rather dull suit and tie used in most parliaments today.
Once the King and Queen were seated on their thrones His Majesty was handed the speech by the Prime Minister. Having had some political turbulence during his tenure as King since he came to the throne in 2019 His Majesty expressed his hopes that the current Prime Minister would be his last one as his reign ends in January 2024.
Hopefully it will not be the last time we get to see the King and Queen in their regalia and finery though as His Majesty’s birthday is also normally celebrated with great pomp and ceremony and that is only a few months away.
For more information you can also visit the excellent blog of The Royal Watcher,here
First of all I would like to extend my (rather late) best wishes for the new year to those who have subscribed to my blog and also to those who might have stumbled over my blog by accident or via other sites in recent times. Hopefully this year will be a great year for us all and to all those who enjoy the pageantry, pomp and glitter of grand regal events I trust you will join me in my hope and wish that we will have a few of those throughout the 2023. The peak of this will no doubt be the Coronation of His Majesty King Charles.
Looking back on 2022 I have realized that it was not such a bad year after all when it comes to regal events. It all started off a bit muted when it was known during the winter months that both the 18th birthday celebration of Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway and the Golden Jubilee celebration of Queen Margrethe II of Denmark had to be postponed. But at least they were postponed (and eventually did take place) and not cancelled like the Danish Queen’s 80th birthday had been in 2020. Unfortunately some of the events planned for 2022 were cancelled, like the glittering part of the 50th birthday celebration of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark. All these disruptions were of course all due to the Covid virus which still lingered on. With the lifting of the restrictions which had been put in place during the worst part of the pandemic, however, many other events could in the end be held. So we saw several State Visits take place in addition to the anniversary celebrations in Norway and Denmark. Quite a few of them had actually been scheduled to take place in previous years but eventually had to be postponed due to Covid. .
The first in this long row of State Visits was the visit of the Austrian President to Belgium. Here he was received by Their Majesties and in the evening of the first day the King and Queen hosted a dinner in honour of the Austrian president. However, it was disappointingly not a glittering State Banquet as a dress code of suit and tie was chosen. This meant that the Queen did not wear any of her sparkling tiaras, nor were any Orders prominently worn. So it looked more like a end of a business meeting or a casual gathering of politicians rather than a State Visit between two Heads of State.
Fortunately for us Royal Watchers another State Visit began the following day in the neighbouring Kingdom of the Netherlands. King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima welcomed the President of India and although it was a shorter visit than the three-day visits which have been more or less the standard for these visits in recent times. Even so, the first day ended with a glittering State Banquet at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam and there were no doubts as to what kind of visit this was.
Then followed the State Visits paid by the Grand Ducal Couple of Luxembourg to Portugal, the President of Finland to Sweden, the Dutch King and Queen’s to Austria, the Belgian King and Queen to Greece and the Emir of Qatar to Spain in May. The first three were also white-tie and/or tiara events whilst the two latter were not. In Greece it was again a suit and tie “gathering”, but at least this time Queen Mathilde treated us to some glitter by wearing one of her grand diamond brooches in her hair. The banquet hosted in connection with the State Visit from Qatar to Spain was indeed a white-tie event, but Queen Letizia had chosen not to wear a tiara – which was a missed opportunity in my bias view. Nor did anybody wear any Orders apart from the King who only wore the Neck-tie of the Order of the Golden Fleece. A rather strange combination as Orders are (almost) always worn at white-tie banquets.
Then in the autumn some more State Visits took place. The one with the most interest among the Royal Watchers I think is safe to say the Dutch State Visit to Sweden. A showdown of whopper tiaras was expected and neither Queen Máxima nor Queen Silvia disappointed in that respect. Queen Máxima wore the enormous tiara from the House Diamond set and Queen Silvia sported the stunning Braganza tiara.
Another State Visit by the King and Queen of Belgium took place, this time to Lithuania while the Greek president received another Royal visit in the persons of the King and Queen of the Netherlands. The Dutch Royal Couple had not been back home for long before they themselves hosted a State Visit when the President of Italy arrived in Amsterdam. In November the Swedish Royal Couple paid a State Visit to the Kingdom of Jordan. Though normally Queen Silvia packs at least one tiara when travelling on this kind of high profile visits she did, alas, not bring any with her to Jordan.
Of course a lot of interest was also fixed on the first State Visit hosted by the new King of the United Kingdom, Charles III, when he welcomed the President of South Africa. It turned out to be a very glittering affair indeed and even though it was again one of those short visits two tiara events took place; the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace and the traditional Banquet the following day at London Guildhall. It was a bit odd to see the new Queen wearing the beautiful Sapphire set as we had only seen on the late Queen wear it previously. But as odd as it might have seemed it also seemed totally right and the Sapphires really suited Queen Camilla. More about this State Visit can be found here.
Queen Camilla would again wear the Sapphires to the Diplomatic Reception hosted by her and King Charles III at Buckingham Palace. As so many other annual glittering events the reception had had to be cancelled several times during the last couple of years due to Covid. Also the declining health of the Queen probably did not allow for the usual grand reception and there had been talk of holding what one might call a scaled down reception at Windsor Castle where the Queen resided. This was not going to be a full white-tie event though and I was actually worried that Charles would favour that idea for future receptions. Luckily it was not so and we were treated to a splendid reception in the beginning of December. It was only the very senior members of the Royal Family who attended; i.e. The King and Queen and the Prince and Princess of Wales. And while the Queen wore her late mother-in-law’s Sapphires the Princess of Wales looked equally stunning in a wonderful red gown and the Lotus Flower (Papyrus) tiara.
Other annual grand events were also finally taking place across Europe. Already in April the King and Queen of Sweden invited to a splendid dinner at the Royal Palace. They even did a second dinner in September. The King and Queen of Norway hosted their annual dinner for the members of the Storting (Norwegian Parliament) and in Amsterdam the King and Queen of the Netherlands gave a white-tie reception for the Diplomatic Corps. This normally takes place in January but this year it had been rescheduled to the month of June.
But it is not only in Europe where glittering and colourful regal events have been celebrated. Asia is also a continent which harbours some of the world’s remaining monarchies. Sadly, these monarchies are not given the amount of attention they deserve in the West I feel. Many of their celebrations are truly grand and spectacular events. The birthdays of many of the rulers in Malaysia for instance is celebrated with at least one tiara event. This is for instance the case for the Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan. His Royal Highness celebrated his 74th birthday on 14th January with an investiture ceremony. 410 individuals were awarded different State honours. Although certain Covid-19 recommendations were still in place (the Royal couple was wearing face masks) it was a very grand ceremony. Their Royal Highnesses were both in yellow outfits with Orders and glittering diamonds. Her Royal Highness wore a tiara while the Yang di-Pertuan Besar wore the State emblem in diamonds in his traditional headdress. With this His Royal Highness wore the Sash, Collar and Breast Star of the Royal Family Order of Negeri Sembilan and the Breast Star of the Order of the Crown of the Realm. Her Royal Highness also donned the Sash, Collar and Breast Star of the Royal Family Order of Negeri Sembilan.
Another of the rulers of the Malaysian States born in January is the Sultan of Terengganu, His Royal Highness Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin. Officially, however, the birthday is not celebrated until 26th April – which is a public holiday. Born in 1962 the Sultan celebrated 60 years last year. But I cannot see that the day was celebrated with grand gala events. Now, this could course be down to the fact that the Covid-19 virus was still menacingly around, or maybe it had been the plan all along to not celebrate in a grand scale. In any case the round year was marked with various events throughout the year. The event of interest to this blog took place in August when the Sultan headed an investiture ceremony at which he decorated 91 individuals with different State honours. His Royal Highness was accompanied at the ceremony by his wife and eldest son. The Sultanah was – like her husband – dressed all in yellow. Glittering on her head was her impressive Diamond tiara. In addition Her Royal Highness seems to have worn the Collar and Breast Star of the Family Order of Terengganu (received 1999). The Sultan also looked magnificent with several Orders and medals. Around his Royal neck he wore the Collar of the Royal Family Order of Terengganu. He also wore the Sash and Breast Star of the same Order. But it was not just the shining golden metal from the Orders that reflected the light. To enhance the already regal look the Sultan wore the traditional formal headwear called the Tanjak Balalai Gajah. Made of yellow fabric it made a splendid backdrop for a large jewel – call it a diadem if you like – consisting of sparkling diamonds.
The Raja of Perlis is another of the current nine Malaysian monarchs and on May 17th His Royal Highness celebrated his 79th birthday. As part of the celebration he headed an investiture ceremony accompanied by his wife Raja Perempuan (Queen consort) as well as his eldest son and daughter-in-law. More about this ceremony can be found here.
In addition to the 60th birthday of the Sultan of Terengganu there was yet another milestone birthday celebrated in Malaysia in 2022. In June the official 80th birthday of His Royal Highness the Sultan of Kedah was also marked with a grand investiture ceremony. Heading the list of recipients of State honours was the Sultan’s eldest son and heir the Raja Muda (“Crown Prince”) of Kedah. He was decorated with the Royal Family Order of Kedah. The Sultan’s only other son was also honoured by receiving a new title, that of Duli Yang Amat Mulia Tunku Mahkota Kedah (which can roughly be translated into something like “Deputy Crown Prince” confirming His Highness’ place in the line of succession). Even his daughter-in-law, the wife of his eldest son, had been included in the list of recipients as she was awarded the Order of Loyalty to Sultan Sallehuddin. Walking beside the Sultan as he made his ceremonial entry into the grand hall was his wife. His Royal Highness looked absolutely splendid in his gold embroidered black tunic. It is rather reminiscent of those grand diplomatic and court uniforms which sadly have gone out of fashion in so many countries.
On 14th January the Malayan State of Negeri Sembilan celebrated the 75th birthday of their ruler the 11th Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan, Tuanku Muhriz ibni Almarhum Tuanku Munawir.
He was born in 1948 as son to Yan di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Munawir ibni Almarhum Tuanku Abdul Rahman and his consort Tunku Ampuan Durah binti Almarhum Tunku Besar Burhanuddin.
The celebration began with a military review where the Yang di-Pertuan Besar was inspected a guard of honour. He was accompanied by his consort Tuanku Aishah Rohani binti Almarhum Tengku Besar Mahmud. As the wife of the Negeri Sembilan ruler she bears the title of Tunku Ampuan Besar.
His Royal Highness was dressed in uniform and he wore several orders; the Sash and Breast Star of the Royal Family Order of Negeri Sembilan, the Breast Star of the Order of the Crown of the Realm and the Breast Star of the Royal Family Order of Yam Tuan Radin Sunnah. He also wore several medals pinned to his white uniform tunic.
Her Royal Highness was dressed in yellow and also wore the Sash and Breast Star of the Royal Family Order of Negeri Sembilan. She wore a large brooch pinned to the front centre of her dress.
As the Yang di-Pertuan Besar inspected the troops a Royal 21 gun salute was fired and there was a flyby by a helicopter with the flag of Negeri Sembilan hanging from it.
In connection with his birthday a list of 540 individuals awarded several State honours was published. Some of these honours were handed out personally by the ruler at an investiture ceremony that took place later in the day.
For the investiture ceremony the Royal Couple had changed their clothes. His Royal Highness was now no longer in uniform but instead wore a yellow traditional outfit. That included a yellow headwear where a badge of the State Symbol in diamonds could be seen. In addition he wore the Sash, Collar and Breast Star of the Royal Family Order of Negeri Sembilan and the Breast Star of the Order of the Crown of the Realm.
His wife, still in yellow, now wore a diamond tiara with the State Emblem as the high centre element. She also wore a diamond necklace and the same brooch as earlier in the day only that it was now placed further down on the dress in the fashion of a corsage. Her Royal Highness wore like her husband the Sash, Collar and Breast Star of the Royal Order of Negeri Sembilan she had received in 2009.
Their two sons, Tunku Ali Redhauddin and Tunku Zain Al-‘Abidin, also attended the investiture ceremony. Like their parents they were dressed entirely in yellow and both Princes were seen wearing the Collar and Breast Star of the Royal Family Order of Yam Tuan Radin Sunnah (Darjah Kerabat Yam Tuan Radin Sunnah) which they received in 2009. In addition they wore the Sash and Breast Star of the Loyal Order of Tuanku Muhriz, which was founded by their father back in 2009. A short list of some of the recipients of the State Honours can be found here (in Malayan).
It was very interesting to witness the first State Visit to the United Kingdom under the reign of King Charles III, albeit from a distance. I think there was a lot of interest, at least among Royal watchers like myself, to see whether a lot of changes would be made to the traditions and elements connected to such an important visit between two Heads of State. In the end many of the ceremonies remained the same, at least from what I was able to see. And I must say I felt relieved that it was so. This visit was a rather short State Visit though compared to the “normal” three days as the two Heads of State bid each other farewell already on the second day. Hopefully this will not be the trend for future visits. But the welcome on the first day was just as splendid as for previous visits; military honours, welcoming ceremony on Horse Guard Parade, a Procession in State by horse drawn carriages and with a Sovereign’s Escort to Buckingham Palace.
The South African president had already arrived the day before by plane and had taken in at a hotel in London. Buckingham Palace is still undergoing extensive refurbishments, so it was probably a bit difficult to accommodate the president there this time. It was the Prince and Princess of Wales who came to meet President Ramaphosa at his hotel the next morning and who accompanied him to the Welcoming Ceremony where he met Their Majesties the King and Queen.
More splendour followed when the King and Queen hosted a State Banquet at Buckingham Palace that same evening. After such a long time without any State Visits to the United Kingdom it was really wonderful to see elegantly dressed guests gathering again in the grand Ball Room with the occasional glitter from the ladies’ diamonds.
Many were excited to see what the Royal ladies would wear, especially when it came to the jewels. Queen Camilla had as the Duchess of Cornwall mostly stuck to the same tiara; the impressive Greville Honeycomb Diamond tiara previously worn by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. Although this tiara suits the new Queen very well, it was hoped that she might chose another one for this State Banquet as it would be her first one as Queen. On the other hand some people thought that it might be a bit too soon after the demise of her mother-in-law Queen Elizabeth II. In the end the Queen chose indeed to wear one of her mother-in-law’s tiaras. But it was not one of the tiaras that were strongly associated with the late Queen. With her fresh and vibrant blue gown she chose to wear the Sapphire tiara together with some other wonderful Sapphire jewels. It was also the first time she had been seen wearing the Sash and Breast Star of the Order of the Garter without the other insignia since her investiture. She looked amazing, the colour of the dress suited her so well and it was good to see her wear something colourful rather than the dimmed colours she had worn since the funeral of the late Queen. Also it was refreshing to see a different colour than white at a State Banquet, which was the usual go-to colour during Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.
White, however, was worn by the Princess of Wales. She looked a dream in her new white gown which she combined with Pearls. She did not wear a new tiara for her, but maybe she had decided to let the Queen catch the attention of everybody when it came to jewels.
The South African President wore the Sash and Breast Star of the Order of the Bath which he must have received on the first day of the visit. One would then expect that the South African President would reciprocate the gesture and award the King with the highest South African honour. I believe that would currently be the Order of the Companions of O. R. Tambo which had been awarded to the late Queen during the previous South African State Visit to the United Kingdom in 2010. Looking at the list of awards, however, they seem to now only award it on the National Day of South African: 27th April. So maybe the King will be awarded it next year come April.
You can read more about the State Visit with more details on the programme, attire and more on my page here.
Although the State Visit taking place in the United Kingdom last week was the most anticipated grand Royal event it was not the only one. Just across the Channel another State Visit took place when King Phillip of the Belgians received the President of Switzerland Ignazio Cassis and his wife. In the evening the King and Queen hosted a State Banquet where the Queen was seen wearing her wedding gift tiara and some impressive Diamond earrings.
After a period of absence where we had a very quiet summer at least when it came to grand Regal events and the beginning of an autumn that was filled with a plethora of splendid and indeed historical Regal occasions I decided to return to the blog. I will be catching up with two of the most special events that happened, but I wanted to do a bit more than just a list of names attending as they definitely deserve a bit more attention. The two events I’m thinking of are of course the powerful, and to many Royal watchers like myself emotional, funeral of the late Queen of the United Kingdom, Elizabeth II and the magnificent celebration of the Golden Jubilee of the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II. Two very remarkable ladies indeed and I will be coming back to both of them shortly.
But the autumn has been very busy when it comes to State Visits too. It seems like many Heads of State wished to catch up on the black-log after the Covid pandemic. Especially the Dutch Royal Couple has been active in this respect this side of summer with two State Visits abroad (Sweden & Greece) and one at home (Italy).
Peter Stuyvesant Ball 2022
Those, however, are not the only tiara events that have taken place in the recent times. Only a few days ago there was a Royal tiara sighting in the US. The Netherlands America Foundation (NAF) held their annual ball, also called the Pieter Stuyvesant ball, at the Plaza Hotel in New York on the 18th November. This was the 41st time the ball took place. True to tradition one of the guests was Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of the Netherlands together with her husband Pieter van Vollenhoven. Her youngest son His Highness Prince Floris of Orange-Nassau, van Vollenhoven and his wife Princess Aimée were also present. The younger sister of the former Queen of the Netherlands (now styled Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands) looked very elegant in a grey evening gown. Even though the dress code was black tie she had opted for a tiara and she wore the Diamond Laurel Wreath tiara from the Dutch Royal collection. She had just worn that jewel recently at the State Banquet during the State Visit to the Netherlands from Italy. Her other jewels for the evening, which included a pair of sparkling diamond earrings and a modern looking silver necklace with diamonds in the front, had also been worn at the said State Banquet.
Birthday of His Royal Highness the Sultan of Kelantan
And the week previous to the Peter Stuyvesant ball another glittering event took place in South East Asia. As I have already mentioned on this blog before, the ruling families of the nine monarchies in Malaysia are often overlooked. But this is such a shame, because these families have magnificent collections of glittering jewels and they are still making good use of them. They are not only used for coronations, State Visits and special anniversaries. In several of the states they for instance celebrate the Sultan’s birthday on a grand scale – every year. This was the case on 12th November when the official birthday of Sultan Mohammed V was celebrated with a lavish investiture ceremony for honours awarded by the Sultan. On the top of the list of recipients was his wife, the Sultanah Nur Diana Petra Abdullah. She is originally from the Czech Republic and is the second of three wives to the Sultan and the only one still married to him. They married in October2010, a month after he succeeded his father, and by then he had already divorced his first wife. However, by marrying the Sultan she did not automatically become the Sultanah. Instead she received the title of Yang Berbahagia Che Puan Nur Diana Petra Abdullah. It was only in August this year that the Sultan granted her the title of Sultanah. And now, on his birthday, he awarded her with the Royal Family Order of Kelantan. This would be her second Kelantan honour as she was already a Knight Commander of the Order of the Crown of Kelantan.
At the investiture ceremony she was seated on a golden throne next to that of her husband. And she was already wearing the Collar and Breast Star of the Royal Family Order. The Sultanah also wore a collection of sparking diamond jewels. The most impressive one was the tiara she seems to have worn for the very first time. It is a tiara that belonged to Queen Zainab, the Sultan’s grandmother, and it has cleverly incorporated the state emblem of Kelantan. Though it was not seen during the ceremony itself, in the official portrait that was released she also wore a large diamond necklace, also a piece which was seen worn by the Sultan’s grandmother, with a large pendant with an emerald centre. The Sultanah also wore a diamond brooch pinned to her pale green dress and a diamond bracelet around her right wrist.
Another glittering lady was the mother of the Sultan, Yang Maha Mulia Raja Perempuan Tengku Anis. She wore a copper coloured gown and the Sash and Breast Star of the Royal Family Order. With this she wore her diamond tiara which looks very much like a copy of the Rundell tiara of Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom that was a wedding gift to her from her husband King Edward VII. She also wore a substantial diamond and ruby necklace which was also worn by her only daughter in one of her wedding ceremonies back in 2013. And pinned to her dress the dowager queen consort wore a large diamond floral brooch. Around her wrist a large diamond bracelet could also be seen.
But the glitter did not stop there. Attending the investiture ceremony was also the current Crown Prince (Tengku Mahkota Kelantan) of Kelantan – a brother of the Sultan – and his Swedish-born wife Sofie Louise. Both the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess wore yellow garments. He was seen wearing the Sash and Breast Star of the Royal Family Order and the Collar of the Order of the Crown of Kelantan. The Crown Princess wore the red bordered dark blue Sash and Breast Star of the Order of the Crown of Kelantan. Her headwear was a small (relatively compared) diamond tiara consisting of many small diamond circles set in a line on a diamond base. She have already been seen wearing something similar (for instance at her wedding celebrations), only that on those occasions there have been several addition rows of small diamond circles placed immediately above the first row of circles. Now, whether it is the same piece (only with the top rows removed for this occasion) or not, is a bit difficult to determine. What is certain is that her sister-in-law wore these same diamond circles as a necklace at one of her wedding events. Furthermore the Crown Princess wore a grand diamond and ruby set consisting of a necklace, earrings, floral brooch and bracelet.
Last week’s main event was of course the birthday celebrations of HRH Princess Ingrid Alexandra of Norway. Back in January when the Princess turned 18 my gala loving heart sank when the Covid restrictions made it impossible to celebrate the young Princess’ important birthday the way it had been planned to be. Fortunately, this time, instead of cancelling the celebrations altogether it was decided to postpone them to a later date. The dates chosen were 16th and 17th June. On the first day the Norwegian Government would host a dinner in her honour while her grandparents, the King and Queen of Norway, wanted to celebrate the big day with a grand gala at the Royal Palace the following day.
Luckily the Covid situation had improved sufficiently for these two events to take place on the newly chosen dates.
To read more about this wonderful celebration, press here.
Knowing there were two State Visits taking place this week, I was looking forward to what I hoped to be two splendid regal events. One of the State Visits took place in Sweden with the President of Finland making his second State Visits to the country. The Swedish Royal Family almost never disappoints when it comes to State Banquets hosted for foreign Heads of State. So I knew that we would see some wonderful, and very possibly grand, jewels from their impressive collection worn.
I was more doubtful when it came to the other State Visit taking place in Spain. True, it was a meeting between two Royal Heads of State as the King of Spain received the Emir of Qatar. But that in itself is still no guarantee at the Spanish court for bringing out the glittering tiaras and putting on a spectacular show. When looking back on the previous State Visit to Spain from Qatar, which took place in 2011, the dress-code was white-tie, yes, but the ladies without tiaras and no orders worn (except the King’s neck-tie of the Order of the Golden Fleece). Having seen that this was the case then I should not have put my hopes that high for a tiara appearance this week’s State Visit either. But I thought to myself that things do change and lately the Spanish Queen had worn more tiaras to these special events. Or at least that is what I tried to convince myself was the case.
One of the facts that made me increase my expectations was that the Emir had been decorated with the Grand Cross of the Order of Isabel the Catholic. Maybe a odd choice, some might think, for a muslim to be decorated with an Order with such a name and the actions of the Queen the Order is named after. But it is the Order normally given by the King to Presidents and rulers without the style of Majesty.
And then the welcoming ceremony, which took place in the courtyard of the Royal Palace, also gave rise to my hopes. Because it was indeed a very impressive ceremony with splendidly uniformed troops, many of them mounted on shiny horses. Breast plates and helmets glistened in the bright sunshine as the Emir and his consort were escorted in the Royal car by mounted detachments to be welcomed by Their Majesties. The car drove up to the red carpet which had been laid down and where Their Majesties stood waiting. As soon as they got out they were warmly greeted by the King and the Queen. And then the welcoming ceremony followed the usual pattern with National Anthems being played, the inspection of the Guard of Honour and the presentation of the Spanish representatives from Parliament, Governmen and other civil and military authorities.
At least I think the Emir and his wife were presented to military authorities. Because if one looks closely on the video one can see that once the Emir is guided along the line-up by His Majesty himself one can spot an empty space at one point. And no uniformed personnel can be seen in the line-up. When I spotted this I immediately went back to an earlier point in the video when the whole line-up can be seen at a distance from above (a drone camera probably) and I saw that the space that was empty during the presentation was occupied at that earlier point by a uniformed person. I was later able to identify him as Admiral General Teodoro Esteban López Calderón, Chief of the Defence Staff, the highest professional military authority on the Kingdom after the King. So why he had left his place in the line-up just when the King made the presentations to the Emir is still a mystery to me. Maybe somebody out there would know the answer to that? If so, I would love to hear from you.
So, as I said, with this grand welcoming ceremony I had expected something equally grandiose in the evening. Sadly, the dress-code was the same as the one used for the previous Qatari visit; white-tie yes, but without tiaras and sashes of the Orders. It cannot be denied that the Queen looked very elegant in her evening gown. And she did wear a small pale blue and white bow with the bade of the Order of Charles III suspended from it. But I have to say that I was rather disappointed in that no tiara was worn. It can be argued that since the Emir’s consort did not wear a tiara it would have looked bad if the Queen had worn one. But I personally do not agree with that. When the late Emir of Qatar visited the United Kingdom for instance tiaras were still worn by the British Royal Family.
It was therefore a comfort of sorts to witness the glitter at the Swedish State Banquet taking place on the same day. And it was not just one tiara, but at least three as the banquet was attended by both the Crown Princess and Princess Sofia as well as the Queen. There might have been more, as the ladies at the Royal court also wear tiaras when attending these banquets, but sadly I have not been able to spot any of them in the footage I have had access to from the event. Should you have any additional information, please give me a shout 🙂
You can check out more about the Swedish splendour on my blog, here. Eventually I will also create a page on the Qatari State Visit to Spain, but that will wait until I have recovered sufficiently enough from the disappointment to “revisit” it and the tiara-less event.
As I followed the two State Visit realising that only Sweden would bring out wonderful treasures from their collection little did I know that another Royal tiara event had in fact taken place earlier at that very same day!
Many of the rulers of Malaysia and Brunei really know how to celebrate their birthdays. Like the monarch of the United Kingdom a birthday honours list is made by these rulers to mark their birthdays also. But contrary to the British monarch the Malaysian / Brunei rulers put on considerable pomp and circumstance when these birthday honours are awarded.
Now, I discovered a few days after the State Visits happening in Europe on that day, that 17th May is in fact the birthday of the current Raja of Perlis, His Royal Highness Sirajuddin ibni Almarhum Tuanku Syed Putra Jamalullail. He succeeded his father as the 7th Raja of Perlis in 2000.
Part of the Royal birthday celebrations was an investiture ceremony at the Raja’s Palace Istana Arau. 325 worthy recipients of different awards had been included in the birthday honours’ list. Since the Covid pandemic is not fully overcome some necessary precautions had been taken and masks were worn. It did not take away the grandeur of the ceremony though.
The Raja wore the Collar and Breast Star of the Order of the Royal Family of Malaysia as a former King of Malaysia, the Sash and Breast Star of the Royal Family Order of Perlist (which he founded in 2001) and the Breast Star of the Order of the Gallant Prince Syed Sirajuddin Jamalullail.
His wife, the Raja Perempuan (Queen Consort), wore the Collar and Breast Star of the Order of the Gallant Prince Syed Sirajuddin Jamalullail and the Sash and Breast Star of the Order of the Crown of the Realm. The latter is a federal order which she received during her time as Raja Permaisuri Agong (Queen Consort) of Malaysia. At former events Her Royal Highness has been seen wearing a grand diamond tiara. But this year, like for the event in 2019, she wore a smaller tiara, also of diamonds. Whether this is a new piece, or one that has been in the family for some time but has only been given some outings now recently, I do not know. It could be that this smaller tiara is easier to wear, especially taking into consideration the Raja Perempuan’s age.
Also attending the ceremony were the Raja’s son and heir, Raja Muda (Crown Prince) Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail, and his daughter-in-law. He wore the Collar and Breast Star of the Order of the Crown of Perlis, the Sash and Breast Star of the Order of the Gallant Prince Syed Sirajuddin Jamalullail and the Neck-tie of the Most Gallant Order of Military Service. Royal Family Order of Perlis, which is a Malaysian Federal decoration. His wife wore the Collar, Sash and Breast Star of the Order of the Crown of Perlis. She also wore a beautiful diamond tiara in her hair
For the first time since November 2019 Their Majesties the King and Queen of Sweden invited to a splendid official dinner at the Royal Palace on April 6th. Usually such a dinner is held at least once each year in Sweden. But due to the exceptional situation with Covid, lock-down and several waves of the virus made such gatherings impossible until now. An official dinner had in fact been planned for March 4th in 2020, but it had to be cancelled at the very last minute.
The guests, who numbered about 150, were welcomed by the Royal Family in the Vita Havet. Unlike previous years, due to the Covid pandemic that hit Sweden hard, there was no handshaking between the Royal Family and the guests. Among the guests were politicians, members from the Diplomatic Corps, representatives from various authorities, science, sport, business and culture, as well as people the Royal Family had met on their visits. Many of them had been invited to the dinner which had been planned in 2020. A list of the guests can be found here.
After all the guests had been welcomed the party moved into the Karl XI Gallery which had been converted to a magnificent dining room. The 48 meter long table had been covered with white table linen – a gift to King Gustaf VI Adolf in 1959. The plates where from a set gifted to King Carl XVI Gustaf in 1996 for his 50th birthday by the Riksdag and the Swedish Government. It had been designed by Karin Björgquist and made by Hackman-Rörstrand Gustafsberg. Another gift to the King and Queen – this time in connection with their wedding in 1976 – from the Riksdag and the Swedish Government was the crystal used. Kosta had used the design by Sigurd Persson to create this wonderful set.
Adding to the beauty of the table was the Brazilian Silver Service, an heirloom from Queen Josephine’s sister Empress Amalia of Brazil. It ended up in Sweden after the Empress death in 1873.
Her Majesty combined her stunning Sapphire parure with a cornflower blue dress by Georg et Arend, a German Fashion House. On her right wrist could also be seen a Diamond bracelet. With this the Queen wore the pale blue Sash and the Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim. Pinned to her gorgeous gown she also wore the King’s portrait in a Diamond frame.
The honour of escorting Her Majesty to the table had been bestowed on the Minister of Justice, Mr Morgan Johansson. He would in fact only a few days later cause a minor clash with the Royal Court when he published a Government proposal to remove several official flagging days; including the one on Her Majesty’s birthday once Crown Princess Victoria succeeds her father to the throne. His Excellency the Ambassador to Ukraine to Sweden Andrii Plakhotniuk was seated to the Queen’s right at the table.
Her Royal Highness had chosen an elegant red evening gown created by Pär Engsheden. The Crown Princess has worn this at several occasions already and it suits her perfectly. With this she wore the Laurel Wreath tiara and the Queen Josephine Corsage necklace she inherited from the late Princess Lilian. In her ears the impressive Diamond Floral earrings from the Swedish Royal Jewel Collection glittered and the Ruby brooch pinned to the pale blue Sash of the Order of the Seraphim. Rubies seem to feature in the bracelet on the Crown Princess’ right wrist too, a row of them being bordered by a row of of Diamonds on each side. Another Diamond brooch was pinned to the Sash at the back and like the Queen the Crown Princess also wore the portrait of her father the King in a Diamond frame.
The honour of escorting Her Royal Highness to the table befell the Minister for Financial Markets Mr Max Elger. The Minister of Justice was placed to her right at the table.
Princess Sofia wore an emerald green silk gown created by the house of Dagmar. It is not a new purchase as the Princess also wore this to the Nobel Ceremony back in 2018. The rich colour of the creation was a perfect match to the Emeralds worn in her Palmette Wedding tiara and the dark green stones (Emeralds also?) in her earrings. A slim Diamond bracelet graced the Princess’ left wrist. Additionally Her Royal Highness wore an antique Pearl and Diamond brooch with a Pearl pendant and a small Diamond brooch at the back. The brooches were used to fasten the Sash of the Order of the Seraphim that she wore together with the Order’s Breast Star. Pinned to her gown was also the portrait of King Carl XVI Gustaf in Diamonds.
The Ukrainian Ambassador escorted the Princess to the table while the Ambassador of Iceland was seated to her right hand side.
A very nice surprise was to see His Majesty’s sister Princess Christina Mrs Magnuson attend the dinner. Wearing a purple chiffon gown with sequin embroidery and see-through sleeves. She combined the outfit with the Six-Button Diamond tiara, two strings of sizeable Pearls with a Pearl pendant and a Pearl button brooch. Even in her ears she wore Pearl pendant earrings. Crossing over from her right shoulder to her left hip was the pale blue Sash of the Order of the Seraphim with the corresponding Breast Star pinned to her gown. Like all the other Royal ladies she wore the portrait of the King in a Diamond frame. She even wore another honour bestowed upon her by His Majesty and that was the King’s Medal in Brilliants Size 18 on a chain.
Princess Christina was escorted to the table by the Ambassador of Iceland.
The Royal gentlemen all looked very smart in their white-tie and orders. His Majesty and Their Royal Highnesses Prince Daniel and Prince Carl Philip wore the Sash and Breast Star of the Order of the Seraphim and the black Neck-tie of the Order of the Polar Star. The King also wore the Breast Star of the Order of Vasa pinned to his jacket. The other main difference was the medals worn by all three. His Majesty wore five commemorative medals marking: the 90th anniversary of King Gustav V (1948), the 85th anniversary of King Gustav VI Adolf (1967), the 100th anniversary of the birth of King Haakon VII of Norway (1972), the Silver Jubilee of King Olav V of Norway (1982) and the Silver Jubilee of King Harald of Norway (2016). Prince Daniel only wore two medals on his lapel: the Ruby Jubilee (40 years reign) of King Carl XVI Gustaf (2013) and the 70th anniversary of King Carl XVI Gustaf (2016). Five medals were also worn by Prince Carl Philip: 70th anniversary of King Carl XVI Gustaf (2016), the Ruby Jubilee of King Carl XVI Gustaf (2013), the 50th anniversary of King Carl XVI Gustaf (1996), the Wedding of Crown Princess Victoria and Prince Daniel (2010) and finally the Uppland Medal of Merit (2008).
The King escorted the Second Deputy Speaker Lotta Johnsson Fornarve to the table. Prime Minster Magdalena Andersson was seated to His Majesty’s left. Prince Daniel lead the Ambassador of Finland Maimo Henriksson to the table and Second Deputy Speaker Lotta Johnsson Fornarve was seated to his left. Prince Carl Philip had the Prime Minster to his right while seated to his left was the Ambassador of Denmark Vibeke Lauritzen.
Mr Tord Magnuson was also in white-tie and could be seen wearing a few orders too. Although no Swedish Orders have been awarded to Swedish citizens since 1975 Mr Magnuson was created an officer in the Order of Vasa in 1972 and thus wears the badge around the neck in the Order’s green ribbon. In addition he wore the King’s Medal in the 12th Size in a ribbon around his neck in the same pale blue colour as the Order of the Seraphim. Pinned to his jacket could also be seen the badge as an Officer in the Order of the Legion of Honour (France).
Steamed Norwegian king crab, marinated rutabaga, grapefruit and aromatic herbs
Baked Icelandic monkfish, fresh lumpfish roe, butter-baked white asparagus, Sandefjord sauce and chives
Braised spring lamb from Mälardalen, lamb gravy with wild garlic and glazed celeriac
Lemon meringue, citrus sorbet, juniper berry oil, last year's elderflower, fennel pollen and French meringue
Château Coucheroy 2015 Pessac-Léognan
Château Mancèdre 2010 Pessac-Léognan
Château du Juge 2011 Cadillac
The official dinner in Stockholm was not the only tiara event this week. In the Netherlands the King and Queen welcomed the President of India for a State Visit. As is usual the first day ended with a State Banquet at the Royal Palace in Amsterdam. Luckily it was a white-tie event, which meant tiara sightings, and not the rather low-key suit and tie dresscode which was observed in Belgium two weeks ago when the President of Austria visited Brussels.
To read more about the State Visit, you can press here. It will bring you to the page created on this blog on the Indian State Visit.
I had imagined that I would mainly be writing about what Orders all the attendees at the Thanksgiving Service to the life of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh were wearing as I expected at least some of the Royal gentlemen attending in uniform. However, it was announced that they would not wear uniform but plain clothes instead. After seeing that announcement it seemed that there would not be a lot of spledour to write about for the week in question. But I was wrong. A grand regal event did take place this week, though somewhat far from home. I have a feeling that most Europeans forget about the monarchies that exists to the East (I readily include myself in this group). It is a shame, especially for us that enjoy the occasional splendour and glitter, as the East Asian monarchies seem to continue many of the traditional glittering occasions which we unfortunately see less and less of here in Europe.
The Kingdom of Malaysia for instance is a federation of several States, nine of which have their own proper Royal Family. Each of these Royal Families maintain their special traditions and ceremonies. And to add to this the office of King of the whole of Malaysia is on a rota among the rulers of these nine States, each King sitting for only five years. The installation ceremonies are indeed very grand affairs and because of the very special arrangement there is one every five years! So it is not necessary to wait a lifetime in order to see a monarch installed.
One of these States is called Perak and is currently ruled by His Royal Highness Sultan Nazrin Shah of Perak. He is the 35th Sultan to rule the State. On March 28th he opened the first meeting of the fifth year of the 14th State Legislative Assembly. For the State Opening His Royal Highness was accompanied by his wife Her Royal Highness the Raja Permaisuri (“Queen Consort”) Tuanku Zara Salim. She was elegantly dressed in a pale yellow gown wearing a sparkling Diamond tiara which she wore for the first time during her wedding celebrations in 2007. Having been invested with the highest honour of the State, the Royal Family Order of Perak, in 2015 she wore its Collar and Breast Star. In addition she wore the yellow and white Sash and Breast Star of the Azlanii Royal Family Order. The Sultan himself looked equally splendidly wearing an outfit in the same shade of pale yellow as his wife. With this he wore the Royal headgear called “Ayam Patah Kepak” or a “Tengkolok” with a intricate jewel of blazing diamonds pinned to its front. His Royal Highness wore the same Orders as his wife as well as a ceremonial “kris” (a dagger) in his belt. A very Royal sight indeed.
So even though we did not get a grand tiara event for the Austrian State Visit last week we at least got a tiara event this week.
As for the oher exciting regal event of the week, the Thanksgiving Service for the life of HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey, was somewhat of a disappointment. Not the service itself. That was very dignified and it was great to see Her Majesty being well enough to attend it. But much around the service looked a bit messy to an outsider like myself. Especially matters concerning the Royalty from abroad attending. And there were quite a few of them, to the point of having six Royal Head of States (HM the Queen of Denmark, Margrethe II; HM the King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf; HM the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander; HM the King of the Belgians, Philippe; HM the King of Spain, Felipe VI and HSH the Prince of Monaco, Albert II), one former Royal Head of State (HRH Princess Beatrix), the wife of a Royal Head of State (HRH the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg Maria-Teresa) and an exiled Queen Consort (HM The Queen of the Hellenes, Anne-Marie). Other Royal attendants included heirs and members of both reigning and exiled Royal Families.
Though it can be argued that this was a private event I found it very odd that so little attention was paid to protocol. Even when the event is deemed private but you have six Heads of State attending in addition to the very close family it is a great help for things to run smoothly that there is a set of guidelines; i.e. protocol.
For the arrival for instance I would have expected those with highest rank to enter the Abbey last. Or, at least, last second to the immediate family (that is; direct decendants) of the person they are giving thanks for. Meaning that cousins should arrive before Heads of State and the immediate family. So I was a little confused when the bus with all the Royal representatives from abroad arrived ahead of the extended family of the Queen. As the Royal representatives were all travelling in the same bus it was probably a bit difficult to organize them among themselves – though it looks like the King of Sweden is trying (or maybe he is just waiting for his elder sister joing him and his wife and letting others pass in front of them until she does so). Maybe that is why we saw the King and Queen of Spain walking behind the Crown Prince of Bahrain, the Prince and Princess Hassan of Jordan and Prince Philip of Greece while all the other Kings and Queens walked in front of them.
So it is safe to say that I did not find the arrival very organized when it came to the Royal representatives from abroad. Nor did I care for the seating offered them inside the Abbey. They were placed somewhere in the back rows and in alphabetical order. I know that the alphabetical order is something that is used quite often at the British Court when they have to deal with foreign Royalty. But I find it much more elegant and proper when they actually take the time and effort to sit them according to seniority (based on the years of their reigns). With the alphabetical order the King of Sweden would always end up last, no matter how many years he’s been on the throne.
If the arrival was chaotic the departure was even worse. I still have the image of the Queen of Denmark standing at the Abbey exit after having been stopped to let the extended family of the Queen of the United Kingdom out first on my mind. This is the elderly Queen who no longer has the feet of a twenty-year old and in her own Kingdom is always provided with a chair when greeting her guests to grand events at the Palace to avoid her standing for long. When finally being able to leave together with the other Royal representatives from abroad she is seen smiling, but I am sure she did not find being left hanging around at the exit very amusing really.