Today, the late Duke of Edinburgh would have celebrated his 101st birthday. In his honor, we’ve got a closer look at one of the jewelry pieces he designed for the Queen: the Fifth Wedding Anniversary Bracelet.
To mark their fifth wedding anniversary in November 1952, shortly after the Queen’s accession to the throne, Prince Philip designed this symbolic bracelet as a gift for his wife. The design was executed by Boucheron, whose jewelers made the piece out of gold, diamonds, sapphires, and rubies.
The bracelet features several design elements that reference both Elizabeth and Philip. The scrolling link sections between the major elements of the piece features the couple’s interlocking initials, E and P. Jeweled Greek crosses in diamonds, rubies, and sapphires (reflecting the national colors of both Greece and England) are set among the initial sections. Along with the crosses, in the center of the bracelet there’s another reference to Philip: his naval badge, rendered in gold, diamonds, and rubies.
The other two major elements on the bracelet are references to Elizabeth: a pair of York roses made of gold, diamonds, and rubies. The roses are a reference to Elizabeth’s very first title, Princess Elizabeth of York. The bracelet, ultimately, reflects the marriage of a Greek sailor and his English rose.
Though the bracelet has great sentimental meaning, the Queen has only worn it in public on rare occasions. One of the earliest appearances took place on the final day of Royal Ascot in June 1954. It was a lucky day for Elizabeth: two of her horses won race. Aureole took first place in the Hardwicke Stakes, while Landau won the Rous Memorial Stakes. In this photograph from the afternoon, the Queen congratulates her trainer, Sir Cecil Boyd-Rochfort, in the winner’s enclosure after Aureole’s victory.
The Queen’s jewels on that winning day included the Fifth Wedding Anniversary Bracelet on her right wrist, worn over her glove. You can see an excellent view of the bracelet here, as she and the Duke arrive in the carriage procession. She paired the bracelet with small diamond and pearl earrings and a three-stranded pearl necklace.
One of the Queen’s only other prominent appearances in the bracelet came, appropriately, during her diamond wedding anniversary celebrations in November 2007. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall hosted a black-tie dinner for the Queen and the Duke at Clarence House on November 18 to celebrate the upcoming 60th wedding anniversary, and nearly the entire royal family was in attendance.
With a light blue evening gown, the Queen wore diamonds (Queen Mary’s Diamond Frame Earrings, the Modern Fringe Necklace, and several rings), pearls (her pearl evening watch), and the Fifth Wedding Anniversary Bracelet. The gold bracelet winked up from the Queen’s right wrist. One of the York Roses is facing the camera in this shot.
In this view, you can spot the ruby accents on the bracelet more clearly. Since then, the bracelet has mostly appeared in exhibitions, including a special display to mark the Duke’s 90th birthday in 2011.