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British Royals

The colourful engagement rings of the House of Windsor

They are some of the most famous royal engagement rings in the world and many of them are far from just diamonds. From the Queen Mother to Princess Eugenie, sapphires are a popular choice amongst the Windsors. However, other women have also worn rubies, emeralds, and a unique stone from an architect prince. Here’s Royal Central’s look at the bright and beautiful rings of the brides of the House of Windsor.

The Queen Mother – engaged January 1923

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The Queen Mother, then Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, turned down two proposals from the future King George VI before she said yes in January 1923.

Bertie, as he was known, presented her with a sapphire engagement ring flanked by diamonds. In the 1950s, she stopped wearing the ring and replaced it with a pearl in a diamond-set band.

Diana, Princess of Wales – engaged 24 February 1981

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When Lady Diana Spencer became engaged to the Prince of Wales in early 1981 she was allowed to choose her own engagement ring. Diana selected a readily-available blue Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds on an 18-carat white gold band from the jewellers, Garrards.

Following her death in 1997, her jewellery passed to her sons with Prince Harry famously asking to keep the sapphire and diamond ring before offering it to Prince William in 2010 when he made plans to get engaged.

The Princess of Wales – engaged 16 November 2010

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Prince William’s long-time girlfriend, Kate Middleton, was given his late mother’s engagement ring during a trip to Kenya in October 2010. In their engagement interview on 16 November, William said that the ring had special meaning.

I thought it was quite nice because obviously she’s not going to be around to share any of the fun and excitement of it all – this was my way of keeping her sort of close to it all… I’m not an expert on it at all. I’ve been reliably informed it’s a sapphire with some diamonds. I’m sure everyone recognizes it from previous times.”

Kate also said that she would look after it, as it’s a “very, very special” ring.

Sarah, Duchess of York – engaged 19 March 1986

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Sarah Ferguson, the vibrant redhead who became engaged to Prince Andrew in early 1986, sported a Burmese ruby engagement ring to complement her hair. The ring was designed by the groom.

The gem, which featured diamonds surrounding the ruby and a band of yellow gold, was made by Garrard’s and set a trend for ruby engagement rings.

Princess Eugenie – engaged 22 January 2018

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Though Princess Eugenie’s engagement ring bears a striking resemblance to that worn by her mother, Sarah, Duchess of York, her reddish gem is actually a sapphire instead of ruby. The padparadscha sapphire is surrounded by diamonds and set in white gold band.

Eugenie reportedly designed the engagement ring together with her groom, Jack Brooksbank.

Anne, Princess Royal – first engaged 29 May 1973; second marriage 12 December 1992

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Both of Princess Anne’s engagement rings were sapphires, though both prominently featured diamonds in the design.

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Princess Anne was first married in 1973 to Mark Phillips; her second wedding took place in 1992 to Sir Timothy Laurence.

Princess Margaret, Countess of Snowdon – engaged 26 February 1960

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For her engagement to society photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones, Princess Margaret sported a ruby and diamond engagement ring designed with a diamond marguerite, in honour of her first name, and in the shape of a rosebud due to her middle name, Rose. Armstrong-Jones designed the ring himself.

The Duchess of Windsor – engaged 27 October 1936

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The scandalous Wallis Warfield Simpson finally married her third husband, the Duke of Windsor, in 1937, less than a year after he abdicated the throne rather than give up her love.

Her emerald engagement ring—the only emerald sported by a Windsor bride in modern times—was 19.77 carats and featured an engraving on the band that read “We are ours now 27 x 36,” which references the day Edward proposed.

The Kent Brides

Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent; Katharine, Duchess of Kent, Princess Alexandra, The Honourable Lady Ogilvy; and Princess Michael of Kent all wear colourful engagement rings.

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Princess Marina, who married The Duke of Kent in 1932, wore a “square 7 carat Kashmir sapphire with a baguette diamond on either side set in platinum,” per jewel historian Leslie Fields.

Katharine, the current Duchess of Kent, wears an oval sapphire ring with diamonds surrounding the gem. She and the Duke of Kent became engaged on 8 March 1961.

Princess Alexandra, whose engagement was announced on 19 November 1962, wears a cabochon sapphire surrounded by diamonds.

Marie-Christine von Reibnitz, who married Prince Michael in 1978, wears a unique ring: round emeralds and diamonds that reportedly once belonged to his mother, Princess Mariana, and set in a yellow gold band.

Gloucester Brides

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Princess Alice, Duchess of Gloucester became engaged to Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester in 1935, and wore a square sapphire engagement ring. Her future daughter-in-law, Birgitte van Deurs, wore a silver and coral engagement ring designed by Prince Richard when they became engaged in February 1972.

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About author

Jess Ilse is the Assistant Editor at Royal Central. She specialises in the British, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Royal Families and has been following royalty since Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee. Jess has provided commentary for media outlets in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Jess works in communications and her debut novel THE MAJESTIC SISTERS will publish in Fall 2024.