Queen Elizabeth II displays her approval of the work of various members of the royal family in subtle ways. One of these ways is believed to be shown by loans of jewelry that the Queen makes from her own personal – and extended – vault to female members of her family.
Over the past decade, the Queen has lent many important pieces of jewelry to Kate Middleton. The monarch’s granddaughter has become one of the biggest benefactors of the Queen’s bounty of jewelry for public and private events. From tiaras to earrings, necklaces, rings and brooches, Kate has been the guardian (if only for one night) of some of the monarchy’s most treasured and powerful symbols.
The Queen has one of the largest private jewelry collections in the world, not to mention the Crown Jewels which she technically holds in trust. The main recipients of the loans throughout the Queen’s reign were her only sister, Princess Margaret, her daughters-in-law, Princess Diana and Sophie, Countess of Wessex and finally, Kate.
Here, Newsweek explores some of the brightest and most important loans the Queen has given Kate throughout her marriage, from sentimental pieces to significant royal heirlooms.
Queen Alexandra’s Pearl Necklace
One of the oldest and most important pieces of jewelery the Queen lent to Kate dates from 1863 and was a gift from Elizabeth II’s great-grandfather, King Edward VII (then Prince of Wales) to his future wife, Princess Alexandra of Denmark.
The necklace features diamonds and large pearls arranged in graceful garlands with perfectly matching pearl drops. The necklace was given to Alexandra along with a tiara, earrings and a matching brooch.
Queen Alexandra wore the necklace throughout her married life and on her death in 1925 it found its way into the collection of her daughter-in-law Queen Mary (grandmother of Elizabeth II).
Mary was never photographed wearing the necklace and she lent it to her daughter-in-law, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, who began wearing it in the 1930s. The necklace was considered one of the Queen Mother’s most important pieces due to its size and historical significance. On her death in 2002, the Queen Mother’s jewels were inherited by her daughter, Elizabeth II, who never wore the piece in public. Instead, it remained invisible until it appeared around the Duchess of Cambridge’s neck in 2018.
Kate received the necklace for the State Banquet at Buckingham Palace in honor of the King and Queen of the Netherlands. She paired it with Queen Mary’s tiara and earrings that had belonged to Princess Diana. Pearls and sapphires have become the jewels most particularly linked to Kate and this is due to the fact that she wears many pieces that once belonged to Diana.
Bahrain four row pearl necklace and pearl earrings
For Prince Philip’s funeral in April 2021, Kate wore two precious jewels which were loaned from the Queen’s private collection with links to the prince.
With her elegant black Catherine Walker & Co. coat-dress, Kate wore a four-row pearl necklace with a diamond centerpiece believed to have originated from a gift of pearls from the Japanese government following a visit by the Queen and Philip in the 1970s.
Kate lent the necklace to wear at the Queen and Philip’s 70th wedding anniversary dinner at Windsor Castle in 2017.
At the funeral, Kate also wore a pair of delicate diamond and pearl earrings belonging to the Queen. These are believed to have been made from pearls given as a wedding gift to the Queen by the Ruler of Bahrain in 1947.
Queen Mary’s Diamond and Pearl Lover’s Knot Tiara
One of Kate’s brightest jewelry loans has close ties to the Queen but also to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana.
Queen Mary’s diamond and pearl lover’s knot tiara dates from the 1900s and was made by Elizabeth II’s grandmother to mimic a tiara belonging to her own grandmother, Princess Augusta the Duchess of Cambridge.
Mary had a keen eye for jewelry and when she died in 1953 her lover’s knot tiara was inherited by the Queen who wore it in the early years of her reign. In 1981, the monarch lent the long-term tiara to Princess Diana as a wedding gift.
Following her divorce in 1996, Diana returned the tiara to the Queen and it was not seen again until 2015, when Kate wore it to a diplomatic reception at Buckingham Palace. Since then, she wears the piece regularly.
Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace
One of the Queen’s most precious necklaces was given to her as a wedding gift by the Nizam of Hyderabad (a ruler of the Indian subcontinent). The piece was made by Cartier and the Queen wore it several times throughout her reign.
In February 2014, the Queen first lent the necklace to Kate, who wore it at a reception given by the National Portrait Gallery, of which she was the new patron. It was only loaned to her again in 2019 where she wore it to its best advantage against a black velvet evening dress by Alexander McQueen and with Queen’s diamond and pearl lovers’ bow tiara Mary.
Queen’s Dubai Sapphire Earrings
In 2021, Prince William and Kate held a special drive-in screening of the Disney film live-action Cruel at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Scotland. For the occasion, Kate wore an elegant Holland and Cooper trench coat and teamed it with a pair of diamond and sapphire earrings, which had previously been worn by the Queen.
The earrings were part of a suite of jewelry presented to her by Sheikh Rashid of Dubai in 1979 and the monarch has worn them sporadically over the past few decades. The earrings complemented Kate’s diamond and sapphire engagement ring, formerly owned by Princess Diana.
Maple leaf brooch
The Asprey Diamond Maple Leaf Brooch is a piece of jewelery the Queen inherited from her own mother. It was purchased by King George VI for his wife ahead of a crucial 1939 state visit to Canada and the United States before the outbreak of World War II.
The brooch was a tribute to the Canadian flag which features a bold maple leaf and it was worn by royal women on successive trips to the country. The Queen lent the brooch to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in 2009 for her first visit to Canada and also to Kate for her two tours of the country in 2011 and 2016.
Kate wore the brooch with her first outfits on both tours.
Prince Philip’s Diamond Bracelet
When Prince Philip became engaged to the future Queen Elizabeth II, he did so with a gift of jewelery that had belonged to his mother, Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark (born Princess Alice of Battenberg, granddaughter of Queen Victoria).
Being relatively impoverished by royal standards as a lieutenant in the Royal Navy, Philip was given one of her tiaras by his mother to be taken apart so that an engagement ring could be made from the diamonds. With the leftovers he had a beautiful modern bracelet designed as a gift for his future wife.
Sometimes referred to as the ‘Edinburgh Wedding Bracelet’, the piece was worn touchingly by the Queen regularly throughout her marriage.
In 2015, the bracelet was loaned for the first time to Kate Middleton for the state banquet given in honor of the President of China. Since then, she has worn it on many other occasions, including at the 2017 BAFTA Awards ceremony.
Emerald tassel earrings
For a night out in Jamaica as part of the Cambridges’ Caribbean tour in March, Kate debuted a new jewelery loan from the Queen in the form of a pair of emerald and diamond earrings.
The earrings had been a gift for the Queen in the 1980s and she has worn them a few times since, including at the homecoming dinner hosted by President Barack Obama during his State visit to Britain in 2011. Kate wore the earrings with an elegant Jenny Packham evening dress in a complementary emerald color, which showed the pieces to their best advantage.