Mental Floss

Why Queen Elizabeth II Always Wears Pearls

Michele Debczak
Queen Elizabeth II in her signature three-strand pearl necklace.
Queen Elizabeth II in her signature three-strand pearl necklace. / WPA Pool/GettyImages

Queen Elizabeth II has been in the public eye for a long time—long enough to warrant the British monarchy's first-ever Platinum Jubilee celebration this weekend. After 70 years on the throne, appearances from the Queen still prompt questions from the public, such as: What's the deal with the pearls?

Her Majesty's perennial strings of pearls are part of a long-standing royal tradition. Pearls are a timeless fashion statement—so timeless that Leslie Field, author of The Queen’s Jewels, told People, "there has never been a Queen who didn’t wear pearls."

Queen Victoria put her own spin on the tradition in the 19th century. The monarch would give each of her daughters and granddaughters a single pearl on their birthday, so that by the time they turned 18 they had enough to fill out a strand. This inspired King George VI to gift his daughter—the future Queen Elizabeth II—a platinum chain and a pair of pearls on each birthday.

Like much of the royal wardrobe, pearls conform to unspoken fashion rules. Pearls are considered daytime accessories while diamonds are typically worn after 6 p.m. Though they're appropriate for relatively casual events, pearls can also be worn at grand celebrations. The Queen was sporting two strands of pearls on her wedding day in 1947.

The Platinum Jubilee celebration begins on Thursday, June 2, and will last through Sunday. While tuning into the festivities, take note of what's around the Queen's neck—you'll likely spot her signature accessory.

[h/t People]