Just in time for the Diamond Jubilee, Hugh Roberts, the former director of the Royal Collection has written a book called The Queen’s Diamonds.
Some of the diamonds featured in the book will be on show in a Jubilee Exhibition in the State Room of Buckingham Palace during the 2012 Summer Opening. Dulwich Picture Gallery is also marking the Jubilee by organising a lecture series on Diamonds and Anne Haworth, lecturer at Victoria & Albert Museum as well as a guide for private tours of Buckingham Palace will talk about the Queen’s Diamonds.
“I will talk about the Crown jewels as well as other magnificent diamonds in the Royal Collection,” says Anne Haworth. We have all seen the Imperial State Crown, last time in May when the Queen gave her speech at the opening of the Parliament, but there is so much more that is not often seen in public. There are all the tiaras and brooches and a splendid coronation necklace of diamonds.
“The one we all remember is the Cartier Halo Tiara worn by Catherine Middleton at her wedding to Prince William. The Queen lent it to her but it was the Queen Mother who originally purchased it in 1936. It has 739 brilliant cut diamonds and 149 baton-shaped diamonds with a large stone in the middle.” It seems to be a favourite among the royals as it has been seen worn by Princess Margaret and also Princess Anne.
“Another favourite is the wonderful Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, often worn by the Queen as it is light and comfortable. The tiara is aptly named as it was a wedding present to the Queen’s grandmother, Princess Victoria May of Teck, later Queen Mary, from the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland. Lady Greville, who later became lady-in-waiting to Queen Mary, organised a nationwide collection to purchase this tiara from Garrards. ”
Some of the jewels have a very poignant story to tell, one such is The Vladimir Tiara. It was owned by the Grand Duchess Vladimir before the Russian Revolution, kept hidden and then smuggled out of the country and later acquired by Queen Mary. “It is a beautiful tiara hung with pearls which can be exchanged for emeralds at special occasions.”
Anne Haworth is particularly fond of Queen Elizabeth’s Strasmore Tiara. “It is especially beautiful with diamonds set in the form of wild roses symbolising eternal love. It was given to the Queen Mother by her father at her wedding”. The most magnificent of all the diamond jewels is the Diamond Diadem, which is worn by the Queen in her official coronation portrait by Sir James Gunn and also on some postage stamps.
A diadem is different from a tiara as it is worn around the whole head. Queen Victoria and Queen Alexandra also wore this diadem often and it was originally made for George IV’s coronation to wear during the procession to Westminster Abbey. It is embellished with flowers of the Union, a rose, shamrock and a thistle and set with a staggering 1,373 diamonds, the centre being a clear canary yellow diamond.
Many of the diamonds have been re-set during the ages. Some even cut to form new pieces. The Queen often wears the Cullinan III and IV Brooch formed from the third and fourth largest stones cut from the famous Cullinan diamond. The two stones were made into a brooch in 1911 with the largest falling as a drop from the square cut diamond. The two stones have a combined length of 6.5 cm.
The royal family can often be seen as trendsetters when it comes wearing the jewellery. The Queen Mother often wore her tiara across her forehead during the twenties and if she did not set the trend she certainly popularised it. Princess Diana might have been inspired by her grandmother-in-law when she appeared at a ball with an emerald necklace covering her forehead.
Although the Queen is most often seen in her three rows of pearls she has a collection that no other woman can match. The royal diamonds certainly make a statement and can be seen as a symbol of power and wealth as well as adding glitter to state occasions.
10.30-11.30 am, Linbury Room
Series of three £25 (£20 Friends) Single lecture £10, (£8 Friends)
Coffee afterwards included
American Glamour – 150 Years of Tiffany
Wednesday 23 May
Lecturer: Clare Phillips, Victoria & Albert Museum
Magnificent Royal Diamonds
Wednesday 30 May
Lecturer: Anne Haworth, Victoria & Albert Museum
Jewels of the Maharajas
Wednesday 6 June
Lecturer: Anna Jackson, Victoria & Albert Museum