The third of three fantastic Platinum Jubilee exhibitions from the Royal Collection makes its debut at Buckingham Palace today—and it’s packed with amazing royal jewels!
This year’s summer exhibition at the Buckingham Palace focuses on portraits and jewelry from the time of the Queen’s accession in 1952. Numerous iconic photographs taken of the monarch by Dorothy Wilding are featured. The earliest (shown at the top of this article) is one of the engagement photographs that Wilding took of Prince Philip and Princess Elizabeth in July 1947. And this image, an incredible portrait of the Queen wearing her signature tiara, was taken by Wilding on February 26, 1952, just weeks after she ascended to the throne.
The exhibition shows the real jewels worn in the portraits alongside the images. Here’s the Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, which is displayed near that 1952 photograph. The tiara, made in 1893 by E. Wolff & Co. for Garrard, was one of Queen Mary’s wedding presents. The gift was funded by donations from young women all over Britain and Ireland—hence the tiara’s name. Queen Mary gave the tiara to Princess Elizabeth in 1947, and she’s worn it countless times in the 75 years since.
This image of the Queen was also taken by Wilding on February 26, 1952. In the picture, she wears pearl earrings with the South African Diamond Necklace.
The necklace is included in the summer exhibition. It has been in the Queen’s jewelry box since 1947. Seventy-five years ago, she received the necklace as a 21st birthday present during the royal tour of South Africa. It’s made of diamonds set in platinum.
The original necklace was later shortened, and the removed sections were used to make a coordinating bracelet. That piece, shown here, is also included in the exhibition. The Queen has called the necklace and bracelet her “best diamonds.”
This iconic Wilding portrait was taken a few weeks later, on April 15, 1952. In the photograph, the Queen wears the George IV Diamond Diadem with the Bahrain Pearl Drop Earrings and the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace.
The Diamond Diadem is featured in the exhibition. It’s perhaps one of the most important royal jewels that will be on display. It was made ca. 1820 by Rundell, Bridge & Rundell for the coronation of King George IV. Though made for a man, it has been worn exclusively by women in every reign since then.
And here’s the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace, which is also included in the exhibition. The necklace, made by Cartier in 1935, was selected by Princess Elizabeth as a wedding present from the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1947. It’s recently been worn by the Duchess of Cambridge.
One of Wilding’s last portraits of the Queen was this image, taken in May 1956. In the portrait, the Queen wears an evening gown with orders and decorations, plus the Vladimir Tiara and jewels from the Delhi Durbar Parure.
The breathtaking Vladimir Tiara, made in the 1870s for Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia, is featured in the exhibition in its emerald setting. Queen Mary purchased the tiara from the grand duchess’s descendants, and she bequeathed it to the Queen in 1953.
The necklace from the Delhi Durbar Parure is also featured in the exhibition. The jewel, made in 1911 for Queen Mary to wear at the Delhi Durbar in India, is set with stones from the Cambridge Emerald and Cullinan Diamond collections. The necklace’s coordinating earrings are also on display.
There are also additional pieces from the Queen’s jewelry collection on display. The jewels are all pieces that she began wearing during the early years of her marriage and her reign. Here’s the Dorset Bow Brooch, another of Queen Mary’s wedding gifts, which was made by Carrington in 1893.
Queen Mary gave the brooch to Princess Elizabeth as a wedding present in November 1947. The Queen has worn it frequently ever since. Here, in July 1951, she wears the brooch at Westminster Abbey as she attends the wedding of Lady Caroline Montagu-Douglas-Scott and Ian Bedworth Gilmour.
The exhibition also includes this sentimental sapphire and diamond bracelet. It was given to Princess Elizabeth by her father, King George VI, as an 18th birthday present in April 1944. The bracelet was a vintage piece, made by Cartier around 1920.
Here, Princess Elizabeth wears the bracelet on her right wrist at Princess Anne’s christening in October 1950.
A pair of diamond bangles that belonged to Queen Mary are on display as well. The traditional Indian bangle bracelets were given to Mary as a wedding present by the Bombay Presidency in 1893. In turn, Queen Mary offered the bangles to Princess Elizabeth as a wedding present in 1947.
Here, a young Queen Elizabeth II wears the bangles on her right wrist at the Royal Variety Performance in 1952. She’s also wearing the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara and Necklace, plus the Greville Chandelier Earrings.
There’s one more rather adorable jewel from the Queen’s collection on display: the coronet that she wore for her parents’ coronation in 1937.
In fact, Princess Elizabeth’s entire ensemble from the 1937 coronation is on display. Here’s a look at her delicate lace dress.
And here’s a look at her little coronation robe.
This is the silver-gilt coronet she wore. Garrard made one for both Princess Elizabeth and her younger sister, Princess Margaret.
The 1937 coronet, dress, and robes are a poignant reminder that Elizabeth’s preparation for her reign began long before her accession 70 years ago!
The exhibition at Buckingham Palace runs from today (Friday, July 22) until Sunday, October 2. The exhibition is included in a visit to the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, which is open five days a week (Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).