State visits are a fairly common thing, but only once in a great while is it fun to follow. Today King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands arrived in London for their state visit, which includes meetings with the government, politely studying portraits from the royal collection and -- our favorite part -- a state dinner that calls for one's finest jewelry (T-I-A-R-A-S).
Queen Maxima, a former commoner from Argentina, is one of royalty's most fashionable (and intelligent) women. She and Willem-Alexander met in Spain in 1999, wed in 2002 and have three girls, the eldest of whom will one day inherit the Dutch throne.
Tonight, Max posed for photos in Buckingham Palace's Music Room ahead of the state dinner alongside Willem-Alexander, the Queen, the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. I'm not certain who made her ombre dress, but it is mighty beautiful.
Also in attendance tonight: the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (wearing Queen Mary's Lover's Knot Tiara, Diana's pearl earrings and Queen Alexandra's pearl wedding necklace), as well as the Queen's cousins the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, the Duke of Kent and Prince and Princess Michael of Kent.
Now about that priceless bauble atop Max's head...
According to the Court Jeweller, Her Majesty wore the Stuart Tiara, which was once owned by British co-monarchs William and Mary (Mary was a Stuart and William was born to the House of Orange, the ruling dynasty of the Netherlands). The jewels went back and forth between the two countries following the monarchs' deaths, before finally being worn by Dutch Queen Wilhemina at her 1898 investiture.
Fun fact: the tiara's biggest diamond (aptly named Stuart) reportedly weighs 40 carats. The diamond drop earrings also once belonged to Queen Wilhemina.
You'll notice that the Duchess of Cambridge has a yellow ribbon pinned to her Alexander McQueen gown. That is a Royal Family Order gifted to female members of the family by the monarch.
A closer look at the medal:
Before guests sat down to dinner, the Queen delivered a speech welcoming Their Majesties to the U.K., adding that the visit "provides the opportunity for great happiness, and to welcome old friends to my home."