The Penny Black
The suggested theme for this Postcard Friendship Friday is "time". Time for Tiara's, I thought, might be appropriate for this day of celebrating the wedding of Prince William and his bride, Kate Middleton. We'll go from something old to something new beginning with the Penny Black stamp.
The Penny Black was the first adhesive backed postage stamp issued in the United Kingdom in 1840. A young Queen Victoria is featured on this penny postage stamp. She is wearing the King George IV Diadem. This diamond crown was made for the coronation of George IV and has been handed down in time though a succession of Kings and Queens to Elizabeth II. The diadem is among the personal jewels of the Queen as opposed the The Crown Jewels which belong to the United Kingdom. The Queen has to resort to her personal collection when she travels, as the Crown Jewels cannot leave the country.
Queen Victoria is wearing another of her diamond tiaras. the George III Tiara, in this "Gifts of the Magi" styled painting.
It was Queen Victoria who initiated the bridal tradition of wearing white with her white satin and lace gown. In lieu of a tiara she wore orange blossoms in her hair. Prior to 1840, and certainly for many years after, women wore a dress in colors and materials that they could wear for other occasions. Wearing a white dress became - not a sign of purity as we were led to believe - but as a sign of wealth! It was the wealthy who followed Victoria's lead at first. Orange blossoms, according to my 1830 etiquette book was reserved for the bride. Bridesmaids and ladies in waiting must not wear them. The custom of orange blossoms began in ancient China. They are a sign of purity and fruitfulness. The custom spread through Europe during the crusades and became popular in England during the early 1800's.
Queen Elizabeth II wore the George III Tiara - also called the Diamond Fringe -on her wedding day as "something borrowed" from her mother. It was incorrectly speculated that this tiara would be the "something borrowed" for today's bride. Instead, Kate Middleton is wearing the "halo" tiara which was made by Cartier and given to Queen Elizabeth on her 18th birthday.
Princess Diana's "something borrowed" were the diamond and pearl earrings lent by her mother. Her beautiful tiara -which she said gave her a cracking headache - is from the Spencer family jewels.
Queen Elizabeth II is featured on this 1960 postage stamp. She is wearing, 120 years later, the same tiara worn by Queen Victory on the Penny Black.
The new bride, the Duchess of Cambridge is shown wearing "something borrowed" halo tiara. Her lace and satin gown is very reminiscent of Grace Kelly's wedding gown.
Queen Victoria's Handmade Wedding Shoes
Kate's wedding shoes have been hand-made by the team at Alexander McQueen and are made of ivory duchesse satin with lace hand-embroidered by the Royal School of Needlework. Do you suppose a sixpence has been sewn into the lining for good luck?