The Queen’s historic Platinum Jubilee continues with a celebratory exhibition showcasing some of Her Majesty’s rare, unseen jewellery at the Buckingham Palace.
Organized by the Royal Collection Trust, the exhibition, which is titled “The Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Accession”, opened to the public on Friday, July 22. The exhibition showcases some of the queen’s most prized possessions, priceless family heirlooms among them. These jewels have been worn by Queen Elizabeth throughout her reign, as well as by previous monarchs, as showcased in several royal paintings.
One of the most noteworthy pieces on show is the Diamond Diadem crown. Although originally created for the former King George IV’s coronation in 1821, the crown was first worn by Queen Elizabeth for her coronation in 1953. The precious crown is set with 1,333 brilliant-cut diamonds and 169 pearls, which cost almost USD 343, quite a hefty price for that day and age.
The crown, which was commissioned for King George IV, had political symbolism as well. King George, whom the crown was initially meant for, requested that it be designed with shamrocks, thistles, and roses which are the emblems of Scotland, Ireland and England, respectively. This was to reinforce the Act of Union combining the United Kingdom. After her coronation, the queen wore the crown to almost every State Opening of Parliaments.
The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara was another striking crown in the royal treasury. This crown was an heirloom passed down to Princess Elizabeth on her wedding day in 1947, by her grandmother Queen Mary. The name ‘Girls of Great Britain and Ireland’ comes from a committee of women, led by Lady Eva Greville. The committee raised money for the tiara, which was purchased from luxury jeweller Garrard in June 1893. Created with festoon and fleur-de-lis designs, the tiara is decorated with diamonds set in silver and gold, while the original design also featured an additional 14 pearls.
In addition to the Diamond Diadem Crown and the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, the exhibition will also showcase two other important tiaras like the gold crown worn by a very young Princess Elizabeth at her parents’ coronation, the queen’s first crown ever; and Vladimir Tiara which was bought by Queen Mary from the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna of Russia, in 1921. Consisting of 15 intertwined diamond loops, the tiara has a wave design passing through these loops. A collection of removable emerald pendants hang from each of these waves, which are often interchanged with pearl pendants.
The collection also includes the dazzling Delhi Durbar necklace. It was crafted using nine emeralds that were originally owned by Queen Mary’s grandmother, Princess Augusta, Duchess of Cambridge, along with an 8.8-carat diamond cut from the Cullinan diamond, the largest diamond to be ever found.
The Nizam of Hyderabad necklace was a wedding gift to the then-Princess Elizabeth from the Nizam of Hyderabad, Asaf Jah VII in 1947. The necklace was made by Cartier in 1935 and features a total of 300 diamonds. It has quite an intricate design with geometric diamonds set in an abstract floral design.
Also being exhibited is a set of four diamond brooches given to the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012. Each features a floral emblem of the United Kingdom; roses for England, thistles for Scotland, daffodils for Wales and shamrocks for Northern Ireland, the brooches were a present from the Sultan of Oman and the Queen has worn them several times while making visits in the UK.
Other highlights of the exhibition include the Queen’s Norman Hartnell Coronation Dress along with the Robe of Estate, a portrait of the Queen by Sir Herbert James Gunn, official coronation photographs and portraits taken by Dorothy Wilding, who was appointed as the Official Royal Photographer of the Coronation in 1937, among other royal collectibles.
The Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Coronation exhibit will be open to visitors of Windsor Castle till September 26, and is included in the price of a general admission ticket.