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Why do royal members wear pearls at the queen’s funeral?

The funeral of Queen Elizabeth II will take place on Monday, September 19, 2022. Members of the British royal family began to gather to prepare for her funeral. There is a similarity in their outfits: Everyone wears black, and women always wear pearl jewelry. What is the meaning behind this dress?

Why do royal members wear pearls at the queen’s funeral?

In Western culture, black is the color of mourning (in contrast to Asia where mourning is pure white). The wearing of pearls is a relatively newer tradition, dating back to the 19th century during the reign of Queen Victoria.

Queen Victoria is one of the most influential monarchs in UK history. While she is often remembered as an ambitious and economic-minded queen, on the other hand, she was also a romantic and faithful wife. When her husband, Prince Albert, died in 1861, Queen Victoria dedicated her entire later life to remember him.

“Queen Victoria sets the rules that the whole of society must follow,” said Matthew Storey, curator at the Historic Royal Palaces, which houses a collection of royal vestments. “She ditched her entire colorful wardrobe to wear black as a way of speaking without words about her pain.”

At that time, widows were required to wear black, white, or purple mourning clothes for at least three years when mourning for their husbands. But Queen Victoria never wore multicolored clothes again. For four forty years in a row, she wore only black, even her formal attire.

Queen Victoria also only wears diamond (transparent) and pearl (milky white) jewelry to accompany her black outfits. The reason pearls were chosen is because they are shaped like tears, and the white color represents purity. A teardrop-shaped pearl embedded in a brooch bearing Prince Albert’s name was worn on her chest as a memorial to him: Close to her heart.

Therefore, from 1861 to the present, wearing pearl jewelry on the funeral days has become a ritual of the British royal family.

However, this tradition does not mean that members of the British royal family are only allowed to wear pearls on funeral days. Queen Elizabeth II was especially fond of pearls and had a large collection that she often wore on casual occasions. The fact that members of the British royal family wore pearl jewelry on the day of her funeral is also a way for them to show their respect for the late queen.

At the lying-in-state ceremony, when her coffin will be placed at Westminster Palace for ease of visitation, Queen Camilla, Duchess Catherine, and Duchess Meghan Markle will all wear them. Pearl jewelry carries a deep connection with the queen.

These simple earrings were a gift from the late Queen Elizabeth II to her niece-in-law. Wearing this pearl jewelry is her way of subtly paying tribute to her grandmother.

Maple leaf brooch encrusted with baby diamonds around three gray pearls. This is a piece from the private collection of Queen Elizabeth II that she gave to her granddaughter-in-law.

However, this is not a brooch that the public usually sees. It is rarely seen in public. The last time the queen wore it was in 1999 when she visited Seoul. She then gave it to Princess Catherine when she was the Duchess of Cambridge, and she first wore it in 2017.

Princess Catherine wears teardrop earrings. That pearl jewelry used to belong to the late Princess Diana, and also fits the image of “British royal tears”.

Queen of England Camilla appeared at the memorial service with a set of earrings and a pearl necklace. However, she wore a brooch encrusted with diamonds, causing many people to wonder. In fact, this brooch is a gift that the late queen gave to her daughter-in-law. Thistle is Scotland’s national flower, where Queen Elizabeth II died. Queen Camilla showed sophistication when choosing to wear this brooch.

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