Britain’s beloved Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, passed away on April 9 and just a week later was laid to rest on April 17 at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
The Duke’s family was of course in attendance to pay tribute to his life. In her own way of honoring the deceased, Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, wore for the occasion a black coat with a bow detail across the neckline, a black netted fascinator and a pearl necklace that holds significant value within the British royal family. The four-strand pearl and diamond choker, known as the Four-Row Japanese Pearl Choker, elevated her look but it also had a deeper meaning.
The piece was a tribute to her late mother-in-law, Princess Diana, who wore it to a banquet at Hampton Court Palace in 1982, according to Vogue. It was gifted to the Queen of England by the nation of Japan in the 1970s, and part of the royal jewelry collection ever since.
According to the book Garrard: The Crown Jewellers for 150 Years — written by Charlotte Gere, John Culme, and William Summers — the Queen commissioned the necklace during her visit to Japan from a set of the “finest cultured pearls presented to her by the Japanese government.”
The layered strings of cultured pearls worn by Kate to Prince Philip’s funeral serve as a subtle nod to her predecessors within the royal family. She completed the look with more pearl jewelry: dangling pearl earrings.
Vogue added, “But most importantly, perhaps, on a day of deep mourning, her choice of jewelry offered a much-needed moment of uplift and beauty. Of that, Prince Philip would surely approve.”
The pearl necklace was worn by the Queen often, including in 1983 when she visited Bangladesh and to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s 70th birthday in London in 1995. She lent it to Princess Diana for one of her first royal engagements — a banquet at Hampton Court Palace in honor of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in November 1982. The Queen is now lending it to Kate, who also wore it to the Queen and Prince Philip’s 70th wedding anniversary in 2017.
Kate and Philip had a close relationship, which William talked about in a statement a day before the funeral.
“I will always be grateful that my wife had so many years to get to know my grandfather and for the kindness he showed her,” his note read in part. “I will never take for granted the special memories my children will always have of their great-grandpa coming to collect them in his carriage and seeing for themselves his infectious sense of adventure as well as his mischievous sense of humour!”
The pearl earrings Kate wore to the funeral also have a touching significance. According to Harper’s Bazaar, “they were originally given to the queen by the Hakim of Bahrain as a wedding gift following her nuptials to Prince Philip in 1947. Duchess Kate has worn the pair in the past, including on Remembrance Sunday in 2016. Princess Diana also wore them—with the same choker necklace—during the same state dinner in the Netherlands.”