In the wake of any royal death, exclusively all-black attire is part and parcel for all family and friends who are mourning. But a lesser known element of traditional royal mourning dress code are pearls. Whether they take form in earrings, necklaces, bracelets or brooches, the striking white jewellery always stands out against the dark ensembles.
In the 10 day mourning period following Queen Elizabeth II’s death on September 2022, Princess Kate, Meghan Markle, Sophie of Wessex and more prominent royal women were seen wearing beautiful pearl pieces (including specific items which belonged to the Queen).
And at the Monarch’s funeral on September 19, the tradition continued.
Why do the royals wear pearls in mourning?
Pearls are the traditional go-to for royals to wear during times of mourning because they are usually understated and respectful.
The tradition dates back to Queen Victoria’s reign in the late 1800s. Following her husband’s death, she wore black for 40 years—and her outfits were lightened only with the addition of pearls. It was said that the unique shape of a pearl also alludes to a tear drop, which is appropriate for mourning.
Following suit, Queen Elizabeth II often wore pearls during times of mourning, including to the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997, as well as for her husband Prince Philip in 2021.
When Queen Elizabeth II’s body was moved to Westminster Hall ahead of her funeral, Kate watched the moment unfold in a black outfit adorned with the Queen’s diamond leaf pearl brooch.
Interestingly, Kate has worn the brooch a couple of times before—both on sombre occasions of remembrance. The first was in 2017 while she attended a service to mark the centenary of the Battle of Passchendaele in Belgium, while the second was for the festival of remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall.
Meanwhile, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex also wore pearls in the days following Queen Elizabeth II’s death. She was seen wearing a pair of pearl earrings at Westminster Hall. The stunning pearl drop earrings were a gift from the Monarch in 2018.
The official period of mourning will end the day after the Queen’s funeral, but the royals as well as their household staff and representatives will remain in mourning for another week, until September 26.