25 February 2014

Jewel History: Wedding Gifts Fill Big Hall at Palace (1922)

Viscount Lascelles and Princess Mary on their wedding day in 1922 [1]
"Wedding Gifts Fill Big Hall at Palace"
(originally appeared in the Washington Post, 25 Feb 1922)

The spacious picture gallery in Buckingham Palace, which is as large as the grand ballroom of any New York hotel, today presented a dazzling spectacle to a small party of invited guests who viewed a portion of the magnificent wedding presents that have been sent to Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles, who are to be married next week. 

The prewedding exhibition of the gifts had been planned to take place at St. James's Palace, where they were received, until the death of Lady Feodora Gleichen there Wednesday morning, which necessitated the change.

Cases Blaze with Gems

Only the smaller and more portable presents have been transferred to Buckingham Palace, but they turned the great gallery into a hall of glittering splendor. A half hour was the time limit for the visitors and this afforded them time for only a casual inspection of the wonderful display. In glass cases blazed diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds, adn there were pearls, gold and silver articles, and priceless antiques, each distinctive in design and of studied elegance.

There was the three-fold gift of King George -- a tiara of diamonds and sapphires and a necklace and bracelet studded with similar stones. The monarch's gift to his daughter occupied the central position of honor in the hall.

Lord Lascelles and Princess Mary [2]
Brooch Queen's Gift

Then there was to be seen a brooch given by Queen Mary -- one great sapphire encircled by diamonds [3]. With these and the other gems on display the princess could go through an entire court season without having to wear twice any bit of jewelry.

Another case held the gift of Viscount Lascelles to his bride-to-be -- a corsage of sapphires and diamonds, from which one massive stone shone forth from the field of lesser brilliants. A cluster of diamonds is suspended from the corsage. It contains two large pearls. There also was a riviere, or necklace, of diamonds, and a diamond pendant containing two large pearl drops. This gorgeous display of jewels will be worn by Princess Mary at the wedding.

Nearby was Princess Mary's gift to Viscount Lascelles. This consisted of a pair of antique souffle dishes and a platinum and gold watch chain set with pearls.

Wales Gives Bracelet

The Prince of Wales's gift to his sister is a diamond and sapphire bracelet. Dowager Queen Alexandra has given the princess a marvelous corsage of pearls, with emerald drops, and a beautiful necklace containing six rows of stones.

Princess Mary's aunts, the Princess Royal, Princess Victoria, and the Queen of Norway, combined in their present, sending the princess a long diamond lace brooch. The Duke of York and Princes Henry and George have given their sister a sapphire and diamond ring, unique in style and setting. From the bridegroom's parents has come a large diamond brooch.

A large ring came from Queen Victoria of Spain. Queen Amelia has given the bride-elect a gold bracelet containing one huge ruby and one pearl, with a circle of diamonds as a clasp.

Princess Mary [4]
Clock from Duke of Connaught

The great-aunts of the princess and the Duke of Connaught have presented her with an ebony and gold antique clock. Another clock, perhaps the most remarkable of the lot, has been sent by Prince and Princess Christopher of Greece. It is a carriage clock with a gold sunray face, with two silver and diamond stars moving around to indicate the hours and minutes.

Conspicuous among the other presents were a miscellany of rich ropes of pearls, jeweled fans, and huge silver vessels from the members of the British cabinet and others from the diplomatic corps; a handsome negligee [5] with a center of emeralds and a coronet of precious stones from the navy; a silver dressing table set from the army; a mink coat and muff from the twelve city companies; a diamond bracelet "from the men and women of the stage"; a negligee of rubies, pearls, turquoises, and diamonds shaped after the fashion of an eastern temple bell from Viceroy Reading of India and the Countess Reading; a splendid sable coat from twenty-eight friends; two silver cake dishes from Mrs. Whitelaw Reid, widow of the former ambassador to the Court of St. James; and an infinite variety of other gifts, consisting of furniture and wearing apparel.

1. Cropped version of a picture postcard available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
2. Image available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
3. Some have speculated that this was one of the Albert brooches -- one of five copies of Queen Victoria's sapphire and diamond brooch given to each of Albert and Victoria's daughters. To my knowledge, there's never been confirmation that this was indeed one of those brooches. See Suzy Menkes for more on the copies of the Albert brooch.
4. Image available via Wikimedia Commons; source here.
5. A necklace is generally referred to as a "negligee" when it includes tassels or pendant drops of irregular length; the Delhi Durbar necklace is a good example. These were especially popular during the reign of Mary's grandfather, Edward VII.