On Monday, the royal world said farewell to Archduchess Margherita of Austria-Este, the Italian princess who married a son of the last Emperor of Austria. Today, to celebrate her life, we’ve got a look at her impressive bejeweled legacy.
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Several years ago, I answered a reader question here about the brooches that the Queen wore during the mourning period for Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997. I’m still frequently sent questions about royal mourning jewels—what’s considered appropriate for mourning in the modern world, how the pieces are chosen, etc. As you can imagine, many of those same questions have been asked over the past week. In older days (for example, during the reign of Queen Victoria) there were stricter guidelines available for mourning clothes and jewelry. (Blacks, grays, mauves, lots of jet.) In our time, jewels for mourning are selected on a more personal and individual basis, but there are still some general ideas that seem to be followed.
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As you may have expected, our regular afternoon and evening posts here are being suspended today following the news of the death of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, at the age of 99. Born Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark, he married the future Queen Elizabeth II in November 1947. They enjoyed 73 years of marriage, raised four children, and welcomed eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren to their family.
What you may not know is that Prince Philip, like another famous prince consort before him, was very interested in the world of jewelry design. He had a hand in the creation of several pieces from the Queen’s collection. We’ll never know how many jewels he gave her over seven decades of marriage, but here’s a closer look at several pieces that we know he helped design and acquire for Her Majesty.
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To celebrate his engagement to Princess Elizabeth, Philip turned to one of Lord Mountbatten’s favorite jewelry firms, Philip Antrobus, to design an engagement ring. The diamonds set in the platinum ring were taken from a tiara that belonged to his mother, Princess Alice; it had been her wedding present from the last Emperor and Empress of Russia. The central stone of the ring measures in at three carats, with five smaller stones set on either side. Philip gave the ring to Elizabeth on July 8, 1947, but it was slightly too big and had to be resized. The sizing was completed before the public’s first glimpse of the ring at the couple’s formal engagement announcement, which took place on July 10.
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Antrobus used a number of the remaining diamonds from Princess Alice’s tiara to construct a wedding gift for Prince Philip to present to Princess Elizabeth. Jewelry historian Leslie Field has noted that Philip was “deeply involved with the design of the wide diamond and platinum bracelet.” The Queen has worn the bracelet often throughout their marriage, and in recent years, has loaned it to the Duchess of Cambridge.
To mark their fifth wedding anniversary in 1952, Prince Philip dreamed up an intricate bracelet for his wife. The Royal Collection notes that the “gold, diamond, sapphire and ruby bracelet was made by Boucheron to the Duke’s designs.” The bracelet’s adornments all have very personal meaning: it incorporates the couple’s joint cypher in its links, as well as Philip’s naval badge and heraldic roses.
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This gold and ruby brooch wasn’t designed by Philip, but it certainly fits in with his modern aesthetic. The brooch was acquired by Philip for the Queen in 1966. The piece, made of gold set with diamonds and carved rubies, has a scarab-inspired design. It was made by one of the couple’s favorite jewelers, Andrew Grima.
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Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (1921-2021)