The Queen's Jewels

The Queen's Jewels

The Queen's Jewels (or the King's Jewels, when the monarch is male) refer to a historic collection of jewels owned personally by the monarch of the United Kingdom; currently Queen Elizabeth II. The jewels are separate from, but not entirely unlinked to, the British Crown Jewels. The origins of a royal jewel collection distinct from the official crown jewels is vague, though it is thought that they have their origin somewhere in the sixteenth century. Many of the pieces are from far away lands which were brought back to the United Kingdom as a result of civil war, coups and revolutions.

Due to the size and weight of most of the official crowns, many of the tiaras and diadems are worn instead of crowns at official engagements. Many British monarchs have chosen to wear tiaras, diadems and circlets whilst undertaking their official duties. Due to laws that prohibit the Crown Jewels leaving the United Kingdom, pieces from the Queen's collection are also worn by the monarch on state visits abroad. Unlike the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom, the jewels in the Queen's collection are not property of the state but are personal property of Elizabeth II and some other members of the royal family.


General history

The origin of the collection is in the sixteenth century. Unlike the British Crown jewels, the jewels in the Queen's collection are not crown regalia, or insignia of state. As such the collection in personal property of the monarch and not state owned. Most pieces in the collection were designed for female monarchs, although some male monarchs have also contributed to the collection. Some of the pieces from far away lands were brought back to the United Kingdom as a result of civil war and revolutions. In more recent years the monarch has worn pieces of the collection as head of state of her Commonwealth realms as the removal of the Crown Jewels from the United Kingdom is prohibited. Queen Elizabeth can be seen wearing jewels from the collection in official portraits in her capacity as Queen of Canada and New Zealand (see external links). [Fields, 9.]

The House of Hanover dispute

In 1714 when the Stuart line ended, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Hanover both came to be ruled in personal union by the British monarchs of the House of Hanover. Early Hanoverian monarchs were careful to keep the respective heirlooms separate. George III of the United Kingdom gave half his British heirlooms to his bride, Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, as a wedding present. In her will, Charlotte left the jewels to the 'House of Hanover'. In the meantime the Kingdom of Hanover passed the Salic Laws, limiting inheritance to that throne to heirs descended through males only, excluding descendants through females. Thus Victoria came to be Queen of the United Kingdom but Ernest Augustus, Duke of Cumberland became King of Hanover. King Ernest demanded a portion of the jewellery, not only as the monarch of Hanover but also as the son of Queen Charlotte. Victoria flatly denied these claims, claiming that the jewels had been bought with British money. Ernest's son George V of Hanover continued the dispute. Victoria's husbund, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, suggested she buy the jewels of the Hanovarian monarch, however the Parliament of the United Kingdom informed the Queen that they would neither purchase the jewels nor loan the money to Victoria. A Parliamentary commission was set up to decide upon the matter, and in 1857 they ruled in favour of the House of Hanover. On28 January 1858 the jewels were handed to the Hanoverian Ambassador, Count Kielmansegge. [Fields, 9–10]

Diadems and tiaras

The King George IV State Diadem

The George IV State Diadem (also known as the "Diamond Diadem") was made in 1820 by the Royal Goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge and Rundell for the coronation of King George IV. It was designed to encircle the King's velvet Cap of Estate that he wore in the procession to Westminster Abbey. The diadem includes 1333 diamonds weighing 325.75 carats (65.15 g), and 169 pearls along its base. [cite web | title = Royal Insight | publisher = British Monarchy | date = 2003-01 | url = | accessdate = 2008-10-10 ] Its design features roses, thistles and shamrocks, the floral symbols of England, Scotland and Ireland respectively.Fields, 163–165.]

The diadem was also worn during the coronation procession of Queen Victoria, and later Queen Elizabeth II. It is also worn by Queen Elizabeth II in the procession to the State Opening of Parliament. It has featured in many portraits of the Queen, including one by Raphael Maklouf. The diadem featured on the world's first postage stamp, the "Penny Black" of 1840. [cite web | title = Great Britain: Wednesday, May 6, 1840 | publisher = First Issues Collectors Club | date = 2003-11-03 | url = | accessdate = 2008-10-10 ] Even now, the diadem can be seen on banknotes and coins throughout the Commonwealth realms. In her will, Queen Victoria left the diadem to the Crown, not only ensuring the diadem would be worn by future monarchs but thereby also making the diadem part of the British Crown Jewels.

The George III Tiara

The George III tiara is a circlet incorporating brilliant diamonds that were formerly owned by George III. Originally commissioned in 1830 the tiara has since been worn by many Queens Consort. Originally it could be worn as a collar or necklace or mounted on a wire to form the tiara. Victoria first wore it as a tiara during a state visit to the Royal Opera in 1839. In Franz Xaver Winterhalter's painting 'The First of May', made in 1851, Victoria can be seen wearing it as she holds Prince Athur, the future Duke of Connaught and Strathearn. In a delicate veiled reference to the adoration of the Magi, the Duke of Wellington can be seen presenting the young prince with a gift, while Prince Albert looks on.Fields, 41–43]

When the Queen Elizabeth, consort of George VI of the United Kingdom, first wore the tiara, Sir Henry "Chips" Channon called the tiara 'an ugly spiked tiara'. Queen Elizabeth loaned it to her daughter, Princess Elizabeth, the future Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom as "something borrowed" for her wedding in 1947. As the Princess Elizabeth was getting dressed at Buckingham Palace before leaving for Westminster Abbey the tiara snapped. Luckily the court jeweller was standing by in case of emergency. The jeweller was rushed to his work room by a police escort. Queen Elizabeth reassured her daughter that it would be fixed in time, and it was. The Queen Mother later also loaned it to her granddaughter The Princess Margaret, Countess Snowdon for her marriage to Captain Mark Phillips in 1973.

The Diamond and Pearl Tiara

The Diamond and Pearl Tiara was purchased in 1921 by Queen Mary of Teck who bought it from Princess Nicholas of Greece and Denmark. Princess Nicholas had inherited it from her mother Marie of Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Over the years Princess Nicholas sold various pieces of jewellery from her personal collection. As a refugee she had to sell the pieces to support her family and various charities.Fields, 89–91.]

Queen Mary had the tiara adapted to accommodate attachment of fifteen of the Cambridge cabochon emeralds. Teardrop pearls were later purchased for use in the tiara as an alternative to the emeralds. Queen Elizabeth II inherited the piece directly from her grandmother. The Diamond and Pearl Tiara is almost exclusively worn with the Cambridge and Delhi Durbar Parures, which also feature large emeralds. Queen Elizabeth II wore this tiara for her official photograph as Queen of Canada, as none of the Commonwealth realms have their own crown jewels.

The Burmese Ruby Tiara

The Burmese Ruby Tiara was ordered by Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom in 1973. The design is in the form of a wreath of red roses and like many other pieces in the collection, made by Garrard & Co. Clusters of rubies and gold form the centre of each flower while diamonds and silver form the petals. A total of 96 diamonds are set into the tiara. Both the rubies and the diamonds came from Elizabeth's private collection. The rubies were a wedding present by the Burmese people, after whom the tiara was named. The number of rubies represent the number of diseases that the people of Burma belive can affect the human body. They credit the rubies with having the ability to protect their owner from sickness and evil. The diamonds were also a wedding present by the Nizam of Hyderabad and Berar who at the time also posessed a vast jewellery collection. [Fields, 69.]

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara

The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara was a gift from the girls of Great Britain and Ireland to Queen Mary in 1893. The diamond tiara was purchased from Garrard, the London jeweller, by a committee organised by Lady Eve Greville. In 1947, Mary gave the tiara to her granddaughter, the future Queen Elizabeth II, as a wedding present.Fields, 38–40]

The tiara was described by Leslie Field as "a diamond festoon-and-scroll design surmounted by nine large oriental pearls on diamond spikes and set on a bandeau base of alternate round and lozenge collets between two plain bands of diamonds". Queen Elizabeth II usually wears the tiara without the base or pearls.

The Russian Kokoshnik Tiara

The Russian Kokoshnik Tiara was presented to Princess Alexandra in 1888 by Lady Salisbury on behalf of 365 peeresses of the United Kingdom. Alexandra had requested that the tiara be in the fashionable design of a Russian girl's headdress, a "kokoshnik". She knew the design well from a similar tiara belonging to her sister Marie Feodorovna, the Empress of Russia. The tiara was made by Garrard Jewellers and supervised by Lady Salisbury. It is made up of 61 platinum bars and encrusted with 488 diamonds, the largest of which being 3.25 carats each. Princess Alexandra wrote to her aunt, the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz "The presents are quite magnificent. The ladies of society gave a lovely diamond spiked tiara". [Fields, 44–45]


Brazil Parure

The Brazil Parure is one of the most modern jewels in the collection. In 1953 the President and people of Brazil presented Elizabeth II with the coronation gift of a necklace and matching pendant earings of aquamarines and diamonds. It had taken an entire year to collect the perfectly matched stones. The necklace consists of nine large oblong aquamarines with an even bigger aquamarine pendant drop. The Queen has since had the drop set in a more decorative diamond cluster and it is now detachable. Her Majesty was so delighted with the gift that in 1957 she has a matching tiara made. The tiara is surmounted by three vertically set aquamarines. In August 1958 the Brazilian Government added to their gift by presenting Elizabeth with a bracelet of seven oblong aquamarines set in a cluster of diamonds and a square aquamarine and diamond brooch to match. [Fields, 21.]

The George VI Victorian Suite

The George VI Victorian Suite was originally a present by George VI of the United Kingdom to his daughter Princess Elizabeth in 1947. The suite consists of a long necklace of oblong sapphires surrounded by diamonds and a pair of matching square sapphire earings also bordered with diamonds. The suite was originally made in 1850. The colour of the stones exactly matched the colour of the robes of the Order of the Garter, although this may have been a coincidence on George's part. In 1952 Elizabeth had the largest sapphire of the necklace removed in order to shorten it. In 1959 she had a new pendant made using the removed stone. When Sir Noël Peirce Coward saw the Queen wearing the suite at the Royal Command Performance in 1954 he wrote: "After the show we were lined up and presented to the Queen, Prince Philip and Princess Margaret. The Queen looked luminously lovely and was wearing the largest sapphires I have ever seen". In 1963 a new sapphire and diamond tiara and bracelet were made to match the original pieces. In 1969 Queen Elizabeth wore the complete parure when she and the Duke of Edinburgh attended a charity concert. [Fields, 148–149]

The Coronation Coronets

In 1937 before the coronation of their parents, it was decided that the princesses Elizabeth and Margaret should recieve coronets to wear during the event. Elaborate coronets of gold lined with crimson and edged with ermine were designed by the crown jeweller and brought to the royal couple for inspection. The king and queen decided the coronets were too cumbersome and too ornate to be appropriate. Queen Mary suggested the coronets be simple circlets of gold in a mediaevil style. The king agreed and the two coronets were designed with maltese crosses and fleur-de-lys. After the coronation Queen Mary wrote "Lilibet (Elizabeth) and Margaret looked too sweet in their lace dresses and robes, especially when they put on their coronets. [Fields, 179]

ee also

*Garrard & Co
*Imperial Crown of India



*cite book
last = Fields
first = Leslie
title = The Queen's Jewels: The Personal Collection of Elizabeth II
publisher = Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
date = 2002
location = London
pages = 9
isbn = 0-8109-8172-6


External links

* [ Elizabeth II wearing the George IV State Diadem]
* [ Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret wearing their Coronation Coronets]
* [ Elizabeth II wearing the Kokoshnik Tiara]
* [ Elizabeth II wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara]
* [ Elizabeth II wearing the Burmese Ruby Tiara]
* [ II New Zealand State Portrait]
* [ II Canada State Portrait]

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