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The diamonds given on the eve of one reign that were worn at the start of another

It was well hidden from view until the official Coronation photographs appeared but the necklace worn by the Princess of Wales on the day King Charles III was crowned provided a rather special touch to this historic event.

The sparkling set of diamonds, often referred to as the King George VI Festoon Necklace, was a gift from a father to a daughter, from a king to an heir and it became a favourite piece in the jewellery collection of Queen Elizabeth II.

The necklace, as its name suggests, owes its existence to King George VI. He had it made for his elder daughter, Elizabeth, just two years before she inherited his throne. He presented it to her in 1950, the year that Elizabeth had her second child, Princess Anne.

But rather than buying new, he decided to raid the royal jewel box. Rattling around there were 105 loose collet-set diamonds, earmarked as heirlooms of the Crown in 1911 by his mother, Queen Mary. She had used them to extend other diamond necklaces – she was rather fond of strands of sparkling jewels, often wearing them on top of one another to form tiers of gems. But King George now asked Garrards to turn them into one spectacular piece for a queen in waiting.

The result was a triple strand necklace. The three rows are held together by diamond studded triangular clasps while those are linked at the back by another row of diamonds.

Queen Elizabeth II wore it to many State Banquets and to several State Openings of Parliament. It was a favourite among her grander jewels and was often seen with another of the gems most associated with Her Late Majesty, the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara.

The Princess of Wales wore it for the first time at the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, although it wasn’t visible until the official photos were released. During the service, the Princess wore the mantle of the Royal Victorian Order which covered the outfit beneath almost completely.

However, her jewellery choice, once revealed, added a nod to Queen Elizabeth II on Coronation Day, as well as a link to the last king to be crowned in Britain, King George VI.

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About author

Lydia Starbuck is Jubilee and Associate Editor at Royal Central and the main producer and presenter of the Royal Central Podcast and Royal Central Extra. Lydia is also a pen name of June Woolerton who is a journalist and writer with over twenty years experience in TV, radio, print and online. Her latest book, A History of British Royal Jubilees, is out now. Her new book, The Mysterious Death of Katherine Parr, will be published in March 2024. June is an award winning reporter, producer and editor. She's appeared on outlets including BBC 5 Live, BBC Radio Ulster and BBC Local Radio and has also helped set up a commercial radio station. June is also an accomplished writer with a wide range of material published online and in print. She is the author of two novels, published as e-books. She is also a marriage registrar and ceremony celebrant.