While First Lady Melania Trump is no stranger to making headlines for her sartorial choices, another head of state stole the spotlight during her first official trip to the U.K. with President Trump — and it’s none other than Queen Elizabeth II.
All eyes were on the monarch during Monday’s state dinner at Buckingham Palace — specifically, on her choice of jewelry for the evening. The queen wore a Burmese ruby and diamond tiara, made by the House of Garrard, which she commissioned in 1973. The rubies were a wedding gift to the queen from the people of Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) for her marriage to Prince Philip in 1947. The gems are extremely rare, and were banned in the U.S. starting in the early aughts as part of President George W. Bush’s continued sanctions on Myanmar for its military regime. In 2016, President Obama lifted these sanctions and the subsequent ban on the rubies.
According to Garrard, the 96 rubies featured in the tiara have a symbolic meaning, as in Burmese culture rubies are said to protect against evil and illnesses. The queen also wore matching earrings and a necklace featuring the rubies. While Buckingham Palace hasn’t released a statement on the queen’s jewels, a social media firestorm is speculating that the queen purposefully chose the tiara for her meeting with the President and his family.
— Mainely Liberal (@MainelyLiberal) June 3, 2019
While Queen Elizabeth II is a politically neutral figure, even in terms of fashion choices, the first lady has a history of using her wardrobe to make political statements. In June 2018, Melania Trump famously wore a Zara jacket that read “I really don’t care, do u?” on a visit to a Texas detention center and in October of the same year, she drew criticism for wearing a pith helmet in Kenya.
Whether a political statement was intended or not, the queen has previously worn the tiara on other official occasions, including a state dinner in 2009 with Pratibha Patil, the then-president of India.
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