Queen Alexandra, fashionista at the British Court…

 

- May 2017 -

In England, Albert, Prince consort had died and Queen Victoria was in search of a wife for her son Edward VII who was the heir to the throne.

 

Queen Alexandra Edward married the protestant Princess Alexandra of Denmark (1844-1925) in 1863. Alexandra very quickly opposed the strict rules of the Victorian era. She brought up her children herself and was a lover of sport. In 1867 she almost lost her life in an accident, which left her scarred. She tried to hide a scar on her neck by wearing high collared dresses and dog collar necklaces. In so doing, she unconsciously started a fashion which was to last for over twenty years and of which few people know the origins. While most women chose their clothes to go with their jewellery, she was privileged enough to do the contrary. She started a fashion for more masculine and more casual clothes which were also more comfortable. Many women followed suit in taking this liberty. Even Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth II took inspiration from her and dressed in their own style. Dress became a theatrical expression of the grandeur of the monarchy.

Queen Alexandra At the beginning of the century, Cartier transformed some of the jewellery that had been given to Queen Victoria by her Indian Princes for the new Queen consort, Alexandra. Although Alexandra’s marriage was a happy one, her husband was unfaithful to her with several different mistresses. At the time, it was customary noble or bourgeois husbands to be unfaithful to their wives, but only outside the home. Victorian women had to bear up to their husbands’ many shortcomings such as miserliness or overspending, violence or indifference. Despite the fact that Edward VII, nicknamed Bertie, showed respect for his wife during court events, he was the first British heir since the Stuart age to openly cheat on his wife just like his rich subjects. Being unfaithful gradually became seen as normal and acceptable, albeit unofficially, for any respectable gentleman. Edward VII’s grandson, Edward VIII, went even further and abdicated in order to marry his mistress, Wallis Simpson, an American divorcee. The royal romance became an affair of state...

The British people was fond of Queen Alexandra and appreciated the work she did for charity. Her goodness, her selflessness and her bravery in putting up with her husband’s excesses earned her the nickname of “Queen of Hearts”. In 1866, her sister Dagmar, or Minnie (1847-1928) became the Grand Duchess Maria Feodorovna of Russia when she married the future Tsar Alexander III. When Minnie visited her sister in England, the British were dazzled by her sumptuous jewels. Siberia being the main source of precious stones in Russia, Minnie regularly sent her sister rubies, sapphires and pearls. In return, Alexandra sent her sister a FabergĂ© egg each Easter.

 

Text ©World Luxury Jewellers
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