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Why Queen Elizabeth II Always Wore 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
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Queen Elizabeth II was in the public eye for a long time—long enough to warrant the British monarchy's first-ever Platinum Jubilee celebration in 2022. Even after 70 years on the throne, appearances from the Queen regularly prompted questions from the public, such as: What's the deal with the pearls?

Her Majesty's perennial strings of pearls were 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 traditional royal wardrobe, pearls conform to unspoken fashion rules. Pearls are considered daytime accessories, whereas 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, for example, was sporting two strands of pearls on her wedding day in 1947.

[h/t People]

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