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Engagement rumors keep buzzing louder and louder around Prince Harry and his American-born girlfriend, Meghan Markle. We recently surveyed some of Britain’s royal engagement ring, in case Harry is looking for a bit of familial inspiration on the jewel front. But since his relationship is a bit more unconventional in royal terms, perhaps he’d also like to present his future wife with a more unusual engagement ring? Here’s a roundup of some of the more unique rings presented to mark royal engagements.
Harry might first look to his own family tree for a bit of unusual engagement ring inspiration. After Queen Victoria proposed to Prince Albert in October 1839, he commemorated their engagement with a golden ring. In typical Albert fashion, though, the ring was unique and highly symbolic: the golden ring formed a serpent, with an emerald set in its head. Above, you can see a replica of the ring from ITV’s Victoria. Although a snake-shaped engagement ring may seem a bit creepy, they were fashionable at the time, mainly because serpents symbolized (among other things) eternal love.
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Legendary royal lovers Napoleon Bonaparte and Josephine de Beauharnais sealed their engagement in 1795 with a sapphire and diamond toi et moi ring, featuring two pear-shaped stones that each weigh just under one carat. The unconventional style is perfect for celebrating an engagement: toi et moi means “you and me,” with one stone symbolizing each partner. Like Victoria’s serpent ring, this one started a fashion, and the toi et moi style became popular in the nineteenth century — long after Napoleon and Josephine’s relationship cooled. (Read more about this ring over here!)
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Josephine’s 5th great-granddaughter, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, also has a toi et moi engagement ring — but this one is a diamond whopper! Margrethe’s French-born husband, Prince Henrik, presented her with this Van Cleef and Arpels ring in October 1966. The diamonds reportedly measure about six carats each. Margrethe and Henrik’s relationship has been sometimes rocky, but she’s still wearing her unique engagement ring fifty years later. (Read more about the ring over here!)
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Denmark is also home to another truly unique royal engagement ring, too. In October 2007, Prince Joachim of Denmark presented this large golden engagement ring to his French-born fiancee, Marie Cavallier. The stones set in the ring — a sapphire, a diamond, and a ruby– represent the blue, white, and red colors of the French flag, the Tricolore. Since Joachim’s father is also French, the ring was especially appropriate — if not particularly admired by many royal jewel lovers.
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Another unusual, patriotic royal engagement ring can be found in the Netherlands. King Willem-Alexander, who comes from the nation’s reigning House of Orange, offered a ring set with white diamonds and a rare orange diamond to his fiancee, Maxima Zorreguieta Cerruti, in March 2001. Orange is an important color for both the royal family and the Dutch nation as a whole, so it’s appropriate that Maxima continues to wear her engagement today — although you’ll usually find it on her right hand, per Dutch custom.
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This unique white gold and diamond eternity band, however, has disappeared from public view in recent years. It’s the engagement ring presented to Queen Letizia of Spain by her now-husband, King Felipe VI, in 2003. The ring was made by Suárez; to help keep the royal engagement a secret, Felipe’s brother-in-law, Iñaki Urdangarin, picked up the ring from the jeweler. (Rumors that he also paid for the ring are, according to Spanish newspapers, false.) Letizia hasn’t worn the ring in public for years. Some have speculated that the subsequent falling out between Iñaki and his royal relatives may be why, while others suggest that Letizia simply doesn’t like wearing rings. Who knows? (Read more about Letizia’s engagement and wedding jewels over here!)
But if Harry’s really going for an unique engagement ring option, he could follow Swedish royal tradition — after all, his great-great-aunt Louise was Queen of Sweden! You may note in the photo above that both Queen Silvia and King Carl XVI Gustaf are wearing rings on the ring fingers of their left hands. That’s because many Swedes exchange simple gold bands to commemorate their engagement, sometimes saving sparklier diamonds for the wedding day itself. The most recent generation of Swedish royal brides and grooms have unfortunately eschewed this tradition in favor of glittering engagement rings for the bride only, but wouldn’t it be fun to see both Harry and Meghan wearing engagement bands? (Read more about Sweden’s royal engagement rings over here!)