With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, the United Kingdom has entered a period of national mourning which will last until the end of the day of the funeral. Additionally, Buckingham Palace has revealed a separate period of royal mourning which will last until seven days after the Queen’s funeral and will be observed by Royal Family members, their staff, and soldiers. As such, the grieving Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton marked her first appearance — after Queen’s death — on Friday wearing mourning clothes and jewellery as she reportedly went to pick up her children from school.
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She drove through Windsor wearing a black turtleneck ensemble paired with large black sunglasses and dangling pearl earrings – which are seen as ‘mourning jewellery’.
Wearing pearls during the mourning period, especially at funerals, is a royal tradition dating back to Queen Victoria.
“Pearls are traditional for Queens going back one thousand years- there has never been a Queen who didn’t wear pearls. They were rare, beautiful and lustrous and the more you wear them, the more lustrous they become,” Leslie Field, the author of The Queen’s Jewels, told People magazine earlier.
According to The Telegraph, following the death of her husband Prince Albert, Queen Victoria ditched all colours and wore black for 40 years and accessorised with either black or colourless jewellery, including pearls. Pearls were believed to represent tears and, thus, she wore strands of them for the rest of her life.
Since then, pearls have become the traditional choice of mourning jewellery with Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana and Kate Middleton, among others, continuing to wear them to funerals. The Queen was spotted wearing pearls to Princess Diana, Princess Margaret, King George VI and the Queen Mother’s funerals over the years.
Princess Diana, too, adorned them at the funeral of Gianni Versace as she opted for a single-strand pearl necklace.
Last year, at the funeral of Prince Philip, Kate had chosen to wear the iconic Japanese Pearl Choker necklace along with Bahrain Diamond and Pearl Drop earrings — all from the Queen’s collections. Queen Elizabeth, on the other hand, paid respects to her late husband by wearing her iconic three-strand pearl necklace with matching earrings.