Millions of people watched the funeral and committal service for Queen Elizabeth II, and the royal family was inherently in the spotlight.
William, Prince of Wales and Catherine, Princess of Wales brought their eldest two children, Prince George and Princess Charlotte, to the funeral, and people were impressed about how well behaved the two young royals were.
People also took notice of the smallest details in how the royals were dressed for the funeral and in the events leading up to it — from Prince Harry’s military uniform to the brooch that Princess Charlotte wore to the funeral.
Both Sophie, Countess of Sussex and Kate Middleton also wore jewelry that was a tribute to the queen. For Kate Middleton’s part, she wore a four-strand pearl and diamond choker, which was from the queen’s collection, and the Bahrain Pearl Drop Earrings that were a wedding gift to the queen in 1947, according to People.
Kate wore the same jewelry to Prince Philip’s funeral. And while it was a touching tribute by Kate to wear the queen’s own jewelry, there’s a deeper meaning to Kate and others in the royal family wearing pearls.
The royal history of wearing pearls for mourning ties to Queen Victoria
It wasn’t just at the queen’s funeral that Kate Middleton has donned pearls in recent days. She wore a triple-strand of pearls, a style frequently worn by the queen, to an event at Buckingham Palace after the queen’s death, according to Glamour.
And other royals, including Camilla, Queen Consort have been seen wearing pearls after the queen’s death, per Mirror UK. Wearing pearls is a royal family tradition, particularly at times of mourning. This ties in large part back to Queen Victoria.
In 1861, both Queen Victoria’s mother and her husband Prince Albert died, and Queen Victoria wore black for mourning for 40 years, until her death in 1901, per Express. As for the jewelry that she wore while in mourning, Queen Victoria only ever wore colorless jewels — diamonds and pearls, according to Hello!.
The choice in jewelry was “very much a tradition,” jewelry historian Vivienne Becker told Vogue, “It’s all about the suppression of color, and also pearls are not glittery or brash. By choosing them, you are being low-key and respectful.” Pearls are also seen to some as a symbol of tears.
For her part, Queen Elizabeth wore pearls at the funerals of, among others, Princess Diana and Prince Philip, according to Marie Claire Australia.