Why royal ladies wore pearls at Prince Philip's funeral

The tradition of mourning jewellery dates back to Queen Victoria

During Prince Philip's funeral on Saturday, many eyes were on the outfits of the royal ladies and the meaning behind their fashion choices.

The Queen, the Duchess of Cambridge and Zara Tindall were just some of the ladies that attended the momentous event, and could all be seen sporting pearls for the occasion.

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WATCH: Kate Middleton wipes away tears after Prince Philip's funeral

Kate Middleton wore an iconic Japanese Pearl Choker necklace to the funeral, alongside her Bahrain Diamond and Pearl Drop earrings, which are all from the Queen's collection.

The Queen also wore her iconic three-strand pearl necklace and matching earrings, with these classic pieces widely regarded as part of her royal 'uniform'.


Kate Middleton wore the Queen's iconic pearl necklace to Prince Philip's funeral

Leslie Field, the author of The Queen's Jewels, told PEOPLE: "Pearls are traditional for Queens going back one thousand years- there has never been a Queen who didn’t wear pearls.

“They were rare, beautiful and lustrous and the more you wear them, the more lustrous they become.”

MORE: The Countess of Wessex wears sombre dress to mourn Prince Philip

However, although pearls may be seen as a beautiful and lustrous accessory, they can also hold a more sombre meaning. They are often referred to as 'mourning jewellery', a tradition that dates back to Queen Victoria.


Queen Victoria wore strands of pearls for the rest of her life after her husband died

According to The Telegraph, after the death of her husband Prince Albert, the Queen famously wore black for 40 years and accessorised with either black or colourless jewellery, including pearls. The pearls were thought to represent tears, and she wore strands of them for the rest of her life.

This tradition has been continued for many years, with pearls continually being worn by royal ladies when attending funerals. Queen Elizabeth can be seen wearing pearls to Princess Diana, Princess Margaret and King George VI's funerals over the years.

Princess Diana was also seen wearing pearls when attending Gianni Versace's funeral, sporting a single strand of the symbolic beads.


Princess Diana kept up the tradition of wearing pearls when attending a funeral

Many eyes were on Kate Middleton's pearl necklace on Saturday when attending the Duke of Edinburgh's funeral, and it is thought that she wore the necklace to pay tribute to the Queen and the late Princess Diana.

The four-strand necklace features a central diamond clasp and was commissioned by the Queen herself, made from pearls given to her by the Japanese government. While the necklace belongs to Her Majesty, Kate's late mother-in-law Diana famously wore the necklace to a state banquet for the Netherlands in 1982.

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Kate previously borrowed the piece to celebrate the Queen's 70th wedding anniversary to Prince Philip, making the choice of jewellery all the more fitting.

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