Not only does she have the title, Queen Camilla is now custodian of one of the world’s most impressive collections of jewellery.
And however modest her taste might be in ordinary times, she has shown these priceless pieces off to great effect on grand state occasions, such as last week’s three-day visit to France.
In many cases, Camilla has chosen to wear jewellery associated with the late Queen Elizabeth II, most notably last week, when Camilla appeared at Versailles in the George VI Sapphire diamond necklace and earrings.
These pieces had been a wedding present to Princess Elizabeth from her much-loved father and it says much about their importance to her that, as Queen, she would later have a sapphire tiara, a bracelet and rings made to match.
The bracelet and the rings, too, were worn by Queen Camilla the following evening.
Queen Camilla at a State Banquet at The Palace of Versailles on September 20in the late Queen’s sapphire jewellery, including necklace, earrings, bracelet and rings
The neckland and earrings had been given to the late Queen by her father George VI as a wedding present
Diamonds fit for a Queen
The most spectacular of these were of course the Cullinan diamonds, which featured at that most spectacular of occasions, the Coronation in May.
Originally parts of the biggest diamond ever to have been found, the Cullinan III and IV were placed in her Queen Consort’s Crown, which had originally been made for Queen Mary in 1911.
Often worn by Elizabeth II together as a brooch, the two diamonds took pride of place at the front of the crown along with the heart shaped Cullinan V, which Elizabeth II had also worn as a brooch.
During the ceremony Camilla also wore the diamond Coronation Necklace. This was commissioned by Queen Victoria and made in 1858 from 25 brilliant-cut diamonds.
The central pendant, known as the Lahore Diamond, is an impressive 22.48 carats.
Queen Camilla watches the RAF fly-past following her Coronation. The crown no longer features the controversial Koh-i-Noor diamond and instead displayed three of the Culinan diamonds
Queen Elizabeth wearing the Cullian III and IV as a brooch at the Service Of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral in London in 2012
Queen Elizabethwears her Cullinan V diamond brooch for a service on the eve of the centenary of The Battle of The Somme at Westminster Abbey in 2016
A reminder of Prince Albert
The present queen enjoys wearing brooches as much as Elizabeth did.
Several of them have a 19th century provenance.
These include the Prince Albert Sapphire Brooch which was a wedding present from Albert to Queen Victoria, who wore it during the ceremony.
She described it as ‘a splendid sapphire set round with diamonds which is really quite beautiful’ and was a permanent reminder of ‘dearest Albert’.
It was a favourite of Elizabeth II and Camilla wore it in March in Hamburg during the State Visit to Germany.
The Hesse Diamond Jubilee Brooch also has an association with Queen Victoria. It was given to her in 1897 to mark her 60 years as monarch by the children of her second daughter Princess Alice of Hesse.
Alice died from diphtheria aged only 35 in 1878 and Victoria became a parent figure to the five surviving grandchildren including the future Empress Alexandra of Russia.
The brooch features the number 60 in Cyrillic numerals and worn by Camilla at the late Queen’s funeral service on September 19.
Camilla visits Hamburg City Hall wearing the late Queen’s Prince Albert Sapphire Brooch
Queen Elizabeth II shelters under an umbrella as she attends day two of Royal Ascot in 2019
Camilla shows off the Russian Sapphire Cluster Brooch at the 2023 Commonwealth Day Service at Westminster Abbey
It was worn by Elizabeth II for her meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican in 2014
There is another Russian link with the Russian Sapphire Cluster Brooch which dates to the 1840s and was acquired by Queen Mary following the Russian Revolution, when the surviving members of the imperial family were forced to sell off their treasures in exile.
It was worn by Elizabeth II for her meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican in 2014 and by Camilla at this year’s Commonwealth Day service in Westminster Abbey earlier this year.
Two brooches with a more personal association are the Queen Mother’s Scallop-Shell Brooch, which was left to Queen Elizabeth in 2002 and who wore it on occasions when she wanted to honour her mother including the unveiling of a statue to her in the Mall in 2009. Camilla wore it in June when she attended Royal Ascot.
The other one is the turquoise and diamond floral brooch which Camilla wore at Schloss Bellevue on Day One of the State Visit to Germany in March.
This was a gift from Queen Mary to her granddaughter, the future Elizabeth II, to mark the latter’s confirmation at Windsor in March 1942.
Camilla has also worn two brooches inherited by Elizabeth II from her mother but rarely seen: The Queen Mother’s Rock Crystal brooch given to Camilla shortly after her wedding to Charles and worn at the Maundy Service this year.
Another diamond art-deco brooch belonging to the late Queen was worn by Camilla for the Christmas Day service at Sandringham in 2022.
During her visit to Ireland with King Charles, Camilla wore the appropriate Emerald and Diamond Celtic Knot brooch which the late Queen wore at a banquet she hosted for the President of Ireland in 2014.
A brooch with a more personal association is the Queen Mother’s Scallop-Shell Brooch. She is pictured with Princess Margaret at the Guildhall for her 100th birthday celebration in June 2000
King Charles III and Queen Camilla, wearing the Scallop-Shell Brooch, attend Royal Ascot in June
Camilla wore this turquoise and diamond floral brooch at Schloss Bellevue on the state visit to Germany
The Queen Mother’s Rock Crystal brooch was also inherited by Elizabeth but has rarely been seen
A leek from the Welsh Guards (encrusted with diamonds, of course)
Camilla has worn the late Queen’s regimental brooches – gifts from the various military units she was associated with. These include the diamond Welsh Guards Leek Brooch which Camilla wore in Wales shortly after the death of the monarch last September.
One with a particularly personal connection is the Grenadier Guards Brooch, which includes diamonds, sapphires, and rubies, and which she was given in 1942 at her first public engagements, aged just 16, when she was made Colonel of the Grenadier Guards by her father George VI and reviewed the regiment at Windsor.
Camilla wore this in June during the Trooping ceremony and in April at Buckingham Palace during the presentation of new colours to the regiment – see pic below.
Camilla has followed the late Queen’s example and worn brooches on tour in acknowledgement of the host nation. Like Kate she borrowed the Queen’s Maple Leaf Brooch for visits to Canada. The maple leaf is the symbol of Canada, and the brooch was gifted to the late Queen Mother for her 1939 tour of the country.
Camilla has worn the late Queen’s regimental brooches – gifts from the various military units she had been associated with. These include the diamond Welsh Guards Leek Brooch worn after the death of the monarch last September
Queen Elizabeth wears the leek during the presentation of the colours to the 1st Battalion Welsh Guards in the grounds of Buckingham Palace in May 1965
The Grenadier Guards Brooch, which includes diamonds, sapphires, and rubies, was given to the Princess Elizabeth in 1942 at her first public engagements
Camilla wore it in June during the Trooping the Colour ceremony and in April at Buckingham Palace
Camilla followed the late Queen’s example, choosing brooches on tour that acknowledge the host nation
The maple leaf is the symbol of Canada, and the brooch was gifted to the late Queen Mother for her 1939 tour of the country. Pictured: Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh during their Royal tour of Canada in 1951
Camilla has also worn the late Queen’s Sapphire Tiara and her Diamond Fringe Necklace which was a 1947 wedding present for the then Princess Elizabeth from the City of London.
Camilla has worn it with the late Queen Mother’s Boucheron Tiara.
Elizabeth II was a young woman when she had her ears pieced before her 1951 tour of Canada. Camilla hasn’t had them pierced, however, so has fewer earrings to choose from.
Camilla wearing the sapphire tiara during the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in November 2022
The Late Queen had this sapphire tiara made to match her wedding-gift necklace
The Diamond Fringe Necklace was a 1947 wedding present for the then Princess Elizabeth
She did, however, wear the late Queen’s diamond, sapphire and pearl earrings for a portrait released shortly before the Coronation.
Pearls will always be associated with the late Queen and once again Camilla was honouring her in a subtle and very personal way.
- Ian Lloyd is the author of The Queen: 70 Chapters in the Life of Elizabeth II (History Press)