On Monday, King Charles III observed his first Commonwealth Day as the head of the voluntary union of 56 nations with a traditional Westminster Abbey church service, joined by Queen Consort Camilla, the Prince and Princess of Wales, Princess Anne and her husband, Tim Laurence, along with Prince Edward and Sophie, who were named the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh last week.
The theme for this year’s Commonwealth Day was “Forging a Sustainable and Peaceful Future,” and in a statement, the palace explained the service’s goals. “Working in collaboration towards shared economic, environmental, social and democratic goals, the Service seeks to highlight a vast community which spans every geographical region, religion and culture, embracing the diversity of its population of 2.5 billion people, of which over 60 percent are under 30 years old,” it read. The event also featured performances by an all-female choir from Cyprus, saxophonist Yolanda Brown, actors Roshani Abbey and Nuwan Hugh Perera, and Urukerereza, the Rwandan national ballet.
For the ceremony, Kate wore a navy Erdem blouse with white floral embroidery, a peplum, and a matching ruffled skirt, pairing the look with one priceless family heirloom, the Prince of Wales feather pendant worn as a brooch. The centerpiece features the Prince of Wales crest, surrounded by diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds. She also wore a pair of diamond and sapphire earrings that used to belong to Princess Diana.
Kate first wore the pendant last September, adding a hanging 15-carat cabochon emerald, during a visit with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa last November. Kate first wore the Prince of Wales pendant last First created in 1863, when the future Queen Alexandra married Queen Victoria’s son, the future King Edward VII, the brooch was later given to the Queen Mother.
It was lent to Diana throughout the 1980s, and instead of wearing it as a brooch, Princess Diana attached it to a diamond necklace and wore it throughout the 1980s, most memorably with a pair of emerald earrings that Kate has also sported from time to time. The pendant was returned to Queen Elizabeth after her death in 1997. Though Camilla chose not to be called Princess of Wales, she did begin wearing the pendant in 2006. At the time, the Daily Mail reported that the queen gave her the pendant at Charles’s request.
On Monday, Camilla wore a bright blue suit and honored her late mother-in-law with a Russian diamond and sapphire brooch. According to UK jewelers Steven Stone, the brooch, believed to have once been owned by Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia, is worth about $680,000.
Listen to Vanity Fair’s DYNASTY podcast now.