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British Royals

The sentimental sparkling jewels of an historic queen

Queen Elizabeth II had many impressive suites in her jewellery vaults. The King George VI Victorian Suite was one of the most sentimental sets in her collection and held a short but meaningful history for Her Late Majesty. 

King George VI gave his eldest daughter, the then-Princess Elizabeth, a wedding gift of a Victorian suite that he had purchased. It is thought that it was initially created at some point around 1850 and consisted of a necklace of oblong sapphires that are surrounded by round diamonds and collets, as well as a pair of hanging square sapphire and diamond earrings. 

Queen Elizabeth II went on to change and add to the suite multiple times. At the beginning of her reign in 1952, she had the necklace shortened by removing the largest sapphire and a second smaller sapphire, and in 1959, the larger sapphire was used to make a brooch. 

In 1963, Queen Elizabeth purchased a diamond and sapphire necklace that Princess Louise of Belgium had originally owned and had it set into a tiara that she frequently wears with the King George VI Victorian Suite. 

By Biddle, Susan, 1940-, Photographer (NARA record: 8464488) – U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Public Domain,

Her Late Majesty wore the Victorian Suite several times throughout her reign. She wore the original suite for formal portraits at her then-home, Clarence House, in 1952, before leaving for a tour to Kenya. (The images were not actually released until after court mourning ended on 1 June 1952.) And in 1969, she wore the full suite – including the added tiara – to a charity concert she attended with Prince Philip. 

Noel Coward saw Queen Elizabeth II wearing the necklace in its original longer length at the 1954 Royal Command Performance and wrote in his diary afterwards, “The Queen looked luminously lovely and was wearing the largest sapphires I have ever seen.” 

Her Late Majesty wore part of the set for a state dinner during the 2015 State Visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife; she wore the tiara, necklace, and earrings, as well as several family orders for the formal event. 

Following her death and the accession of King Charles III, Queen Camilla chose the sapphires for the first State Banquet of the new reign.

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