Kate Middleton has made her first black-tie appearance as the Princess of Wales.
At a state banquet for President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, she stepped out in a white caped gown by Jenny Packham. Adorned with shimmering beading and a boat neckline, the dress was both a demure, yet still high-fashion, choice for an evening at Buckingham Palace.
Upon her head was the Lover’s Knot Tiara. It’s a favorite of the princess’s—she’s worn it on several occasions—yet still a deeply meaningful one. Originally, the Lover’s Knot Tiara was commissioned for Queen Mary in 1913 from the House of Garrard, and is crafted from diamonds and 19 hanging pearls set in silver and gold.
The tiara eventually belonged to Queen Elizabeth II, who lent it to her daughter-in-law, Princess Diana. Through Diana’s explosive fame, it became one of the most famous tiaras in history. (Although she may have not enjoyed it as much as the public: Allegedly, it was so heavy she got headaches after wearing it.) Indeed, a photo of her wearing the diadem with a white, pearl-encrusted Catherine Walker in 1989 is considered one of the most iconic images ever of the late Princess.
When Kate Middleton married Prince William in 2011—14 years after Diana’s passing—Queen Elizabeth then passed it on to the young royal. Middleton’s tiara wasn’t the only piece of jewelry that played tribute to the royal women before her: On her wrist was a pearl bracelet that belonged to the late Queen, who passed away in September.
She accented her gilded ensemble with two badges. The first was the badge of the Royal Victorian Order, a white enamel Maltese cross with a Tudor crown, which the then–Duchess of Cambridge received from Queen Elizabeth in 2019 “for services to the sovereign.” The second was the yellow Royal Family Order of Queen Elizabeth II, which is bestowed on female members of the British monarchy.
Her appearance at the state dinner marks one of the most glamorous royal moments in years, after such grand gatherings were put on hold during 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic.