Pritchartt honors family in her custom crown

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 8, 2009

NATCHEZ — When Grafton Pritchartt circles the room during her reign as Pilgrimage Garden Club queen, the crown on her head will be more than just a beautiful accessory.

The sparkling headpiece is a tribute to her family, who she credits for the opportunity to serve as queen. The custom-made crown features a family tree on one side that is adorned with the birthstones of family members and a heart on the other that displays the birthstones of her grandparents.

Pritchartt chose the design of her crown “because family lineage is so important.”

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“I know that I wouldn’t have been given the chance to do this if it wasn’t for the dedication my mom has had to the garden club,” Pritchartt said. “She truly enjoys all the work she does with them so this, in a way, is recognition for all that she has done.”

Pritchartt is the daughter of Melinda Carter Pritchartt and W. Howard Pritchartt III. She is the granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Julius M. Carter of Woodville, Bette C. Pritchartt of Covington, La., and W. Howard Pritchartt Jr. of Natchez.

The crown will accent the mid-19th century style hoop-skirted ball gown of Italian candlelight silk satin elaborately trimmed with French lace, pearls and mother-of-pearl sequins that Pritchartt will wear. The gown was originally worn by the 1999 Pilgrimage Garden Club queen Jacquelyn Ming Benson Curry.

The fitted bodice, which is entirely covered with a ribbon-beaded lace overlay, comes to a deep point at the front of the waist. Scalloped hand-beaded lace adorns the neckline and cap sleeves and hand crafted silk roses embellish the shoulders.

The floor-length skirt is also entirely covered with a ribbon-beaded lace overlay. Accenting the bottom of the skirt are three deep tiers of alternating designs. First is a scalloped, re-embroidered tier of lace medallions, then a tier of pale rose-petal pink silk satin and last a tier of candlelight silk satin. The tiers are encrusted with pearls and mother-of-pearl sequins.

Each curving tier is centered by a handmade, three-dimensional spray of candlelight silk satin roses.

Pritchartt will carry a handmade scepter made by Dynasty Collection in Mobile, Ala., who also made her crown.

Pritchartt, who began her two-week reign on Friday, has continued to lean on her mother for support during the months leading up the Historic Natchez Pageant. She will reign with King Martin Scott Hanson.

“I said to her ‘You have be with me every step of the way,’” Pritchartt said of her relationship with her mom. “It is like we are reigning together.”

Being selected as queen is the culmination of years of participating in the pageant, Pritchartt began her pageant career like most others in Little Maypole and has also participated in Big Maypole, Picnic, Polka and the bride in the Wedding of Jefferson Davis. She also served as a court page in 1994, an experience that she said was especially memorable for her.

“I definitely grew up with Pageant,” she said. “Especially serving as a page. I remember looking up to the queen so much and thinking she was so beautiful.

“And I think all the little kids were excited to get to stay up late.”

And Pritchartt, a 2006 graduate of Trinity Episcopal Day School, is lucky to have such a helper since she is balancing her duties as queen with a full course load as a junior at Ole Miss.

Pritchartt is a journalism major and is also pursuing a minor in political science.

Pritchartt is currently enrolled in all journalism classes, which she said has allowed her passion for writing to continue to grow.

“I’m in a feature writing class right now where I can write a six-page story about a building, and I just love it,” she said. “It is what I’m passionate about.”

Pritchartt said she also has a deep interest in politics and has been given the opportunity to combine her two courses of study in Washington, D.C., this summer. She said she hopes her work this summer will shed some light on the direction her career will take.

“I will get a taste of Capitol Hill,” Pritchartt said. “I will get the chance to find out if this is something I want to pursue. And even if I don’t like it, but I can’t imagine not loving it, at least I’ll know.

“It will give me a chance to get my toes and feet wet before being completely submerged after graduation.”

Pritchartt said that while her passion is writing, she is a staff writer for The Daily Mississippian, she is also active in radio and television journalism. She works as a reporter for the Ole Miss television and radio stations.

Because of her duties as queen, Pritchartt will miss one week of classes at Ole Miss, but said, instead of getting behind, she made a point to complete much of her work before getting coming home.

“I’ve been taking tests all week,” she said. “And I’ll be turning in feature stories through e-mail.”

But Pritchartt said the extra work is well worth it.

“You go through stages where you are in shock and then think this is so overwhelming,” Pritchartt said. “I just couldn’t believe it was my time.”