Monday, 6 February 2017

Sapphires for the Sapphire Queen

Today, Elizabeth II writes her name in the history books once more. The Queen has now reigned for 65 years - she is the first British Monarch to reach this milestone. It is her Sapphire Jubilee. The stone represents wisdom and royalty - an apt moment in a reign that is now legendary. To celebrate this royal 65 years, here are ten special sapphires worn by Elizabeth II - the Sapphire Queen.

The Queen's own sapphires

The Queen inherited some of the most famous jewels in the world when she ascended the throne but all monarchs throughout history have added their own touches to the royal gem collection. This tiara is one of the creations of the reign of Elizabeth II. The Queen commissioned this stunning sapphire and diamond diadem in the early 1960s. It's made from a necklace originally belonging to Princess Louise of Belgium and was completed in 1963.

A most beloved necklace

The Queen commissioned the tiara to match the set of sapphires given to her in 1947 as a wedding present by her father, King George VI.  The necklace features emerald cut sapphires and they were presented to the bride by her proud papa with a matching set of earrings. The Queen usually wears the tiara and necklace together - there is also a bracelet of sapphires and diamonds added to the set by the Queen. These jewels show the continuity of the House of Windsor, one reign passing to another, as well as the never ending bond between daughter and father.


From granny's jewellery box

Grannies share all kinds of exciting things with their granddaughters and this very exciting brooch is a sparkling reminder to the Queen of her beloved grandmama, Queen Mary. Little Lillibet grew up very close to her grandparents and Queen Mary, usually so severe in many photos, is always seen smiling with real joy in the presence of the granddaughter who would grow up to wear the Crown. This beautiful, and unusual, brooch was given to Mary as a wedding present in 1893 by the then Tsarina of Russia - also her new husband's maternal aunt - and it was left to the Queen when her grandmother died in 1953. A real piece of royal history - straight from the heart.

A present for a princess

One of the most unusual pieces of sapphire jewellery in the Queen's collection is her Chrysanthemum Brooch, given to her when she was still Princess Elizabeth. It was a gift for launching an oil tanker in 1946. It's been a favourite piece for the Queen ever since, chosen for her official engagements photos and touchingly reworn in portraits to mark her Diamond Wedding Anniversary in 2007. 

A feather in the collar

Quirky sapphire brooches were clearly on the royal wish list in the 1940s because this rather unusual piece hails from then as well. The diamond feather set with a single sapphire was given to Princess Elizabeth on her wedding day by the jewellers, Carrington. Reminiscent of a peacock feather, that accessory so beloved of the first queen called Elizabeth, it has an elegance all of its own. A favourite of Elizabeth II and it's easy to see why, this is a real feather in the royal collar.

The brooch of two great queens

This sapphire and diamond sparkler isn't just gorgeous, it's a gift straight from the love story that founded the modern monarchy. This huge sapphire surrounded by stunning diamonds was given to Queen Victoria by her handsome groom, Prince Albert, on the eve of their marriage. It's belonged to the Royal Family ever since and came into the Queen's possession on her accession in 1952. Two women with record breaking reigns to their credit, two queens who have shaped and reshaped the Monarchy to face changing times linked by so much including this sapphire.  

From great granny - via an Imperial Court

This pretty brooch began life as a wedding present from the Queen's great grandmother, Alexandra, then Princess of Wales, to her sister, Dagmar of Denmark, when she wed the future Tsar of Russia in 1866. It was worn by Dagmar (known by her real first name of Marie during her time as Tsarina) throughout her life at the Russian court. When she died, in 1928, that marvellous magpie, Queen Mary, snapped this brooch up and added it to her impressive jewellery collection. It came to the Queen in 1953. 

Double diamonds

Another piece of Russian jewellery to end up with the Queen is this rather impressive sapphire brooch with a double row of diamonds to set it off. It's reported to have ended up with Queen Mary in the 1930s after she bought it from the family of Maria, Tsarina of Russia following her death - probably some time after she acquired the pearl and sapphire brooch above. This is a serious set of jewels - truly fit for a Queen.

A link with the past and the future

This day is as much about George VI as it is his brilliant elder daughter. The King showered his precious Lillibet with sapphires and so here, on the day we remember when the baton passed between them, is the Queen with a brooch of sapphires, rubies and diamonds given to her by her papa when she secured the succession with the birth of a son. The sparkling basket of flowers was a gift from George VI to the future Elizabeth II on the arrival of Charles, a baby prince, a king in waiting, the longest serving heir in British history. For the Sapphire Queen, it is a jewel in a million.  

The Sapphire Queen

We end with a sapphire that has belonged to the Queen longer than it has to any other monarch in British history. There are several stunning sapphires in the Imperial Crown with this large stone at the back among the most striking. It is a crown which has rested on the Queen for sixty five years today, the sparkling manifestation of a duty from which she has never flinched. It belongs to her as long as her reign lasts and may that be many, many more years to come. Once more, the Queen writes her name in the history books.  Elizabeth II, the Sapphire Queen.

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