Last time we looked at the Queen’s favourite pieces of jewellery. Now, we investigate pieces favoured by other members of the royal family.
Queen Victoria’s Miniature Crown
Let’s start with a crown associated with Queen Victoria, more so than any other piece of jewellery she wore. After Prince Albert died, Victoria spent many years out of the public eye. When she returned, she wanted a crown to wear in mourning that “wasn’t too ostentatious”. Our idea of ostentatious probably differs from hers, but nevertheless she commissioned this small, lightweight crown and wore it often perched above a white veil. Made by Garrard, the crown measures just 3.5in across by 4in high but contains an amazing 1,200 diamonds (white diamonds, because Victoria associated coloured jewels with happiness). Because of its lightness, she preferred it to any other crown in the last 30 years of her life, and wore it in both official portraits for her golden and diamond jubilees. Queen Alexandra, consort of King Edward VII, wore the crown, but it has not been worn since.
The Prince Albert Brooch
This is another favourite of Queen Victoria, but unlike the miniature crown, this sapphire and diamond brooch has been seen since Victoria died, being most often worn by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. The brooch, a large oblong sapphire surrounded by twelve round diamonds, was given by Prince Albert to Queen Victoria on the day before their wedding in 1840. Victoria was delighted with the gift and wore it on her wedding day, pinned to the front of her wedding dress. She wore it constantly while Albert was alive, although was rarely seen wearing it during her forty years of widowhood. In her will, she instructed that the brooch was to be designated a piece of ‘Crown Jewellery’, held in trust for all future Queens of Great Britain. Queen Alexandra wore the brooch for her coronation in 1902, and Queen Mary (consort of King George V) often wore it in the daytime. The brooch was a favourite of the Queen Mother, and after she had to pass it to our current Queen on her accession in 1952, she often could be seen wearing an almost identical brooch.
The Duchess of Cambridge’s Engagement Ring
While we are on the subject of sapphires, probably the most well known sapphire is the one which sits in the Duchess of Cambridge’s engagement ring. This ring, as we all know, was given by Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer on their engagement in 1981. On the Sunday before their engagement was announced, the couple had dined with the Queen at Windsor Castle and sat down afterwards to look at a tray of rings which had been sent up from London. Diana chose her favourite without a moment’s hesitation, a large oval sapphire set in a cluster of fourteen brilliant-cut diamonds. It had to be hastily altered to fit, and she was first seen wearing it at the formal announcement of their engagement on the following Tuesday. When Diana died in 1997, Prince William asked for and was given the ring. In 2010, he very carefully carried in in his rucksack to Kenya and gave it to Catherine when he proposed. She has worn the ring ever since.
The Cartier Halo Tiara
This tiara is now very well known since it was lent by the Queen to the Duchess of Cambridge to wear on her wedding day in 2011. But although the tiara has never been worn in public by the Queen, it was worn often by her mother while she was the Duchess of York. Indeed, the tiara used to be known as “Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s Scroll Tiara”. It was given to the then Princess Elizabeth on her 18th birthday in 1944 and she has since loaned it to Princess Margaret and Princess Anne.
Princess Andrew of Greece’s Meander Tiara
Royal watchers may recognise this tiara as the one worn by Zara Phillips at her marriage to Mike Tindall. Its design is commonly known as the key pattern, which is how Prince Philip says he has always known this tiara. It incorporates a central wreath of leaves and scrolls on either side and was a wedding gift to the Queen from her mother in law, Princess Andrew of Greece. The Queen has never worn it in public and gave it to Princess Anne in around 1972. She has often been seen wearing the tiara, and lent it to her daughter in 2011.
The Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara
Queen Mary had this tiara made by Garrard in 1914 as a tribute to the maternal side of her family. It was made to her own design from pearls and diamonds already in her possession and is a copy of one owned by her grandmother, the first Duchess of Cambridge, who married in 1818. It was originally made with upright pearls, but by 1935, Queen Mary had had these removed. When she died in 1953, she left the tiara to the Queen, who did wear it on occasion, and then gave it as a wedding present to Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1981. On Diana’s death, the tiara was given back to the Queen and it has not been worn since.
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s Maple Leaf Brooch
When King George VI and Queen Elizabeth visited Canada in 1939, Her Majesty was presented with this large diamond encrusted maple leaf brooch, the national emblem of Canada. She wore it constantly and when the Queen, as Princess Elizabeth, toured Canada for the first time with Prince Philip in 1951, she borrowed the brooch to wear during the trip. It has been worn on every visit to Canada by the Queen or Queen Mother ever since, and it was left to the Queen when her mother died in 2002. The Queen has lent the brooch to the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge, both of whom have worn it during their trips to Canada in 2009 and 2011 respectively. It may perhaps be the most loaned-out piece of jewellery owned by the Queen!