This Is The Sad Reason Why The Queen Is Rarely Seen Without Her Pearls

It’s easy to conjure up a mental image of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth. Perhaps your version has on a brightly colored outfit or an eye-catching hat. No matter how she looks, you’re sure to picture the monarch wearing her signature accessory: a triple string of pearls around her neck. In real life, she wears them all the time, too, and has a sentimental reason for doing so.

Indeed, the Queen has a trove of gorgeous accessories that make an impression each time she wears them. And plenty of those pieces are made of pearls that were heirlooms or gifted to her from other public figures. But the strands she most often sports have a deep significance to the United Kingdom’s reigning monarch.

You’ve certainly seen the Queen in her most precious set of pearls. The necklace is simple enough, especially compared to the crowns and other glittering pieces she might don in public. It has three strands of the gems, joined together to create an eye-catching yet soft collar that goes with almost everything the monarch wears.

The Queen has long had her treasured necklace and, to ensure it’s always wearable, she even had a second version made. The Emir of Qatar later gave the monarch a very similar piece, with three strings and a diamond-encrusted clasp, that she also folded into the mix. Nowadays, the ruler wears the first two sets interchangeably.

It might be impossible to discern between the first and second versions of the Queen’s most precious necklace. The original one’s strands feature evenly sized pearls, The set she added to the collection afterward, however, has pearls of graduated sizes with the largest stones in the center of the necklace.

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Finally, the gifted pearls from Qatar are a bit longer than the other two, making them the Queen’s go-to for nighttime occasions. But it’s not just the versatility of her three-strand necklaces that she loves. In fact, they also have a deep significance to the monarch, who has worn them throughout her 68-year reign over the U.K.

The Queen has made it clear from her choice in accessories that pearls are among her favorite gemstones. In fact, so large is her collection that there’s a good argument for them being the monarch’s go-to precious stones. Over the course of her reign, she has sported a number of incredible pieces that either feature the soft white shell-born stone or are comprised entirely of them.

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Take, for example, the Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara. The stunning piece features pearls and diamonds looped all around it. Queen Mary purchased it in 1921 from the daughter of the royal after whom it was named. The monarch then passed it onto her granddaughter, who would go on to become Queen Elizabeth II.

Another of the Queen’s signature pearl-centric pieces is the Japanese choker. She traveled to the island nation in 1975 for her first official state visit there. During her stay, the monarch received a gift from the country – cultured pearls, which she had made into a show-stopping choker that she debuted in the 1980s.

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The Queen, though, hasn’t been the only one to wear the Japanese pearl choker. On the night that the royal family celebrated her 70-year marriage to Prince Philip at Windsor Castle, someone else showed up to the party wearing the neck-piece. And that lucky person was Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge.

In choosing the choker, Kate not only honored her grandmother-in-law, but her late mother-in-law as well. Princess Diana also wore Queen Elizabeth’s Japanese pearl neck-piece when she attended a banquet at Hampton Court Palace in 1982. The Dutch royal family’s Prince Claus and Queen Beatrix had arranged the event as part of their royal visit to the U.K.

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Along with the Queen’s bespoke choker, she has also commissioned many other pearl-based pieces. Having married Prince Philip in 1947, the newlywed received a jaw-dropping gift from Bahrain’s ruler to celebrate. It consisted of a shell which, when opened, revealed seven pearls nestled inside. A pair of those soft white gems, alongside some diamonds for added bling, went into creating the monarch’s famous Bahrain Pearl drop earrings.

The Queen often wore the Bahrain Pearl drop earrings in the years following her coronation. Nowadays, the monarch’s family members are spotted wearing them more often than she is. The Countess of Wessex has sported the pearl and diamond pieces, as has the Duchess of Cambridge, on multiple occasions.

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Other precious pearls in the Queen’s collection have been gifted to her in an already wearable setting. When John Key, then-Prime Minister of New Zealand, visited Balmoral Castle in 2013, he arrived with an incredible gift for the monarch. He gave her a brooch with a stunning blue pearl at its center, set with marquise diamonds.

Many of the Queen’s most well-worn pieces are, in fact, hand-me-downs. For instance, a sparkling diamond and sapphire brooch in her collection long ago earned the designation of “heirloom of the crown” during Queen Victoria’s reign. This title meant the piece belonged, not just to her, but to every subsequent queen of England.

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For Queen Victoria’s part, she had received the brooch from her fiance, Prince Albert, just before they walked down the aisle. The ruler loved it so much that she decided to pass it down through the generations. Perhaps the same thing has happened with her pearl drop earrings, another gift from her husband, that have become part of Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe.

Another famous heirloom in the monarch’s collection is Queen Mary’s diamond choker. Following her death in 1953, no one saw the piece until 1975. At that point, the monarch’s mom, officially dubbed the Queen Mother, donned the glittering band for the portrait commemorating her 75th birthday. But it would never again adorn a royal neck

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In fact, both the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth have chosen to wear Queen Mary’s art deco-inspired choker as a bracelet. And the Duchess of Cambridge has also followed suit. She has been spotted wearing the precious band several times. Kate, too, sported it on her wrist.

Queen Mary also passed down the Lover’s Knot, a stunning tiara from which teardrop-shaped pearls dangle. The headpiece used to have pearls along its top as well, but they have been removed over time. On that note, the Queen has mostly loaned out this heirloom for other royal family members to wear.

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Family members can hold on to tiaras and other precious pieces for extended periods of time. No matter who’s wearing them, though, the accessories always remain part of the Queen’s permanent collection of jewels. She originally lent the Lover’s Knot to Princess Diana, and now the Duchess of Cambridge regularly wears the pearl-laden accessory in public.

One of the most widely recognized pieces of royal jewelry is also a storied heirloom. King George VI purchased a sparkling tiara from Cartier as a present for his beloved wife, Queen Elizabeth. When their daughter – the current Queen Elizabeth – turned 18, she received the gorgeous headpiece as a gift.

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But neither of the Queens Elizabeth made the Cartier tiara into the famed accessory that it is today. The current monarch had a hand in making it so widely known, though – she lent it to her grandson William’s bride-to-be, Kate, to wear on her wedding day. Billions of people tuned into watch their nuptials in real time, which meant the world got to see the glittering headpiece.

Clearly, then, the Queen not only has an incredible jewelry collection, but each piece also has a unique history. Despite that, though, she seems to favor one particular addition over them all. And that could be down to it having the best story, one that carries serious sentimental value for the monarch.

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The necklace may seem simple at first glance, especially compared to some of the Queen’s other heirlooms. It has a trio of strands, each lined with pearls of the same size. But the classic piece reportedly means a lot to the monarch, as it was a present from King George VI, her father.

The Queen shared a very close bond with her father, especially considering they forged their relationship while he ruled as king. A letter he wrote to his daughter on the day of her wedding exemplifies how he felt. The note, as shared by the Daily Express in 2020, began, “I was so proud and thrilled at having you so close to me on our long walk in Westminster Abbey.”

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King George’s letter continued, “But when I handed your hand to the Archbishop, I felt I had lost something very precious. You were so calm and composed during the service and said your words with such conviction that I knew everything was all right.” And that gave the then-monarch the hope to look to the future.

The proud monarch and father went on, “I have watched you grow up all these years with pride under the skillful direction of Mummy, who, as you know, is the most marvelous person in the world in my eyes, and I can, I know, always count on you, and now Philip, to help us in our work.”

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The king concluded the note by gently reminding his newlywed daughter that she was ever in his heart – and always welcome back to the family’s abode. He wrote, “Your leaving us has left a great blank in our lives. But do remember that your old home is still yours and do come back to it as much and as often as possible.”

King George wrote that note on then-Princess Elizabeth’s wedding day, November 20, 1947. He maintained a very strong bond with his daughter even after her nuptials and throughout the next few years, which would see him facing health struggles. By the 1950s, his family had the horrible realization that the end could be near.

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By that point, King George had already suffered a blocked artery in 1949, and doctors removed his left lung two years later. The monarch knew that his time was limited, so he took his daughter under his wing. He supposedly showed the princess state papers to give her an idea of what it’d be like for her to sit on the throne.

Still, Princess Elizabeth carried on with her life and royal duties – even stepping in for her father when ill-health prevented him from attending scheduled state visits. In 1952 she and Philip jetted to Africa for a trip to Kenya in the midst of the nation’s fight for freedom and independence against British colonialists. Some considered the jaunt to be a potential risk to the royals’ safety, but King George wanted them to go.

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Just a few days into the royal couple’s trip, a journalist broke some heartbreaking news to Prince Philip. He reported that King George had suffered from coronary thrombosis during a battle against lung cancer. The monarch had passed away, and the whole world knew – everyone except the new Queen of England, Elizabeth II. Her husband would have to be the one to tell her.

It seemed as though the king’s advice had prepared Princess Elizabeth to step into her new role as queen, even though she was just 25 years old. The new monarch immediately began to write letters to the leaders she was scheduled to meet on her African tour. In the notes, she apologized for the fact that she’d have to go home.

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Many people wondered if the young princess was up to the task at hand, namely, leading a nation as its ruler. Even then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill was wary of the woman who would take the throne. But after her coronation on June 2, 1953, it became clear that the Queen definitely had what it took to lead. She’s since become the longest-reigning monarch in the U.K’s history.

Through it all, the Queen has frequently worn the triple strand of pearls she received from King George as a teenager. And many believe the monarch continues to don the timeless accessory because of how much she loved her father. Indeed, it’s a little piece of the beloved parent that she can carry with her.

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In fact, the Queen so treasures the tri-strand pearl necklace that she had an almost identical version made. She wears both pieces interchangeably, perhaps in an effort to preserve the one that her dad gave her. A third three-strand necklace, gifted by the Emir of Qatar, joined her collection in 1953.

And the Queen isn’t the only member of the royal family to wear a sentimental piece of jewelry. The Duchess of Cambridge’s sapphire engagement ring belonged to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana. And that’s just one facet of the story that makes the dark blue stunner special to Kate and her husband, William.

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Firstly, Diana’s ring features a 12-carat sapphire at its center, surrounded by just over a dozen diamonds. The inspiration for this design came from one of the previously mentioned pieces of heirloom jewelry in the Queen’s collection. The engagement piece, in fact, bears a striking resemblance to the blue brooch handed down from Queen Victoria.

Technically, though, the sapphire ring shouldn’t have gone to William’s wife. According to Princess Diana’s former butler, Paul Burrell, Harry had actually inherited the priceless piece. But, in the Amazon documentary The Diana Story, the royal employee recalled, “Harry said to [William]: ‘Wouldn’t it be fitting if [Kate] had mummy’s ring? Then one day, that ring will be sat on the throne of England.’”

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The offer was clearly too good for William to pass up. In his post-engagement interview, the prince explained just how special it was for his fiancée to wear his mother’s ring. In doing so, he likely summed up the Queen’s feelings about wearing the pearls from her father. The future king said, “This is my way of keeping her sort of close to it all.”

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