‘I should like to be a horse,’ answered young “Lilibet,” when questioned by a reporter about what she’d like to be when she grows up.
Born during the reign of her paternal grandfather, whom she fondly called “Grandpa England,” Queen Elizabeth II, as a child was called “Lilibet” by her close family – a name that she gave to herself as she couldn’t pronounce “Elizabeth.” Who would have thought at that time that this jolly little girl would become the longest-reigning monarch of Great Britain, surpassing her great-great-grandmother, who reigned for 63 years and 7 months? But, little did the world know about her vision, selflessness and tenacity.
Her Majesty’s demise has wept the eyes of the world, leaving behind the great memories of her kindness, integrity, humanity, and just the way how she was – a dignified, all smiles lady who had an extensive jewelry collection. Yet, most of the time she chose to adorn her fine self with a simple pearl necklace, diamond engagement ring and a brooch.
The Queen had immense love for heritage jewelry pieces, including crowns, tiaras, and priceless heirlooms, among others. Some of the pieces from her private collection are part of the Crown Jewels, so those pieces don’t belong to any particular person but the monarch, whoever it may be. Most of the items from this invaluable collection go back 800 years.
Apart from her private fortune, Her Majesty also had the Royal Collection, containing the royal family’s substantial artworks – some of which date back to the reign of Henry VIII. That’s not all, the Royal Collection itself is divided into two parts, out of which the lion’s share is held in trust by the monarch of the time, and the remaining is the personal collection of the Queen.
The Crown Jewels
Consisting of over 23,000 gemstones and more than 100 objects, the Crown Jewels are the most precious treasures. Since the 1660s, this unique collection of sacred ceremonial objects has been protected at the Tower of London.
St Edward’s Crown
The most sacred of all crowns worn by Queen Elizabeth II is St Edward’s Crown. Used only at the moment of crowning, St Edward Crown is said to belong to King Edward the Confessor, the 11th-century royal saint. It was most recently used in 1953 for crowning Queen Elizabeth II.
The Imperial State Crown
On the day of her coronation, Queen Elizabeth II wore the Imperial State Crown, which represents the powers and responsibilities of the monarch. The crown itself contains some of history’s most famous jewels, including the Black Prince’s Ruby, the Cullinan II diamond and the Stuart Sapphire.
The Sovereign’s Sceptre With Cross
Since the coronation of Charles II in 1661, the Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross has been a part of every coronation. In 1910, the Sovereign Sceptre with Cross was transformed with the addition of the largest uncut colorless diamond in the world, the Cullinan I diamond. The Cullinan diamond was gifted to King Edward VII by the Transvaal government.
Her Majesty was presented with the Sovereign’s Orb during her investiture. Surmounted by a cross and reminding the monarch that their power comes from God, the Sovereign’s Orb is a golden globe presented to the monarch at the time of the coronation.
One of the most famous diamonds in the world is the Koh-I-Noor. Set in the Crown of Queen Elizabeth or the Queen Mother, the Koh-I-Noor is more of a symbol of conquest. Originating from India, the diamond has had many previous owners, from Mughal Emperors to Sikh Maharajas. The Koh-I-Noor diamond was taken by the East India Company in the year 1849.
The Coronation Spoon
Used for anointing the monarch with holy oil, the most sacred part of the coronation, the 12th-century Coronation Spoon is one of the oldest objects in the Crown Jewels.
The personal jewelry collection of Queen Elizabeth II includes some of the most spectacular jewelry pieces that were gifted by her grandmother Queen Mary who had a passion for jewels and tiaras. Other than that, Queen Elizabeth II’s prized possessions include precious items bought by herself and some priceless pieces from the Windsor collection that began during the reign of Queen Victoria and were passed down through generations.
The Belgian Sapphire Tiara
Queen Elizabeth II purchased the Belgian Sapphire Tiara for herself in the 1960s. However, it dates back to the 1800s, with its former owner being Princess Louise of Belgium. Her Majesty purchased the Belgian Sapphire Tiara to complete the George VI sapphire suite, the one she received as a wedding present in 1947.
Queen Mary Fringe Tiara
Made for Queen Mary in 1919, the Queen Mary Fringe Tiara was gifted to Queen Elizabeth II on her wedding day in 1947 by her mother, Queen Elizabeth. The tiara was snapped when Queen Elizabeth II was getting dressed in the morning of her wedding day. However, it was mended by the court jeweler, who was waiting in the wings.
Delhi Durbar Tiara
Originally set with 10 of the Cambridge emeralds owned by the Duchess of Cambridge, the Delhi Durbar Tiara was made for Queen Mary in 1911. For the 1947 royal tour of South Africa, Queen Mary lent the Delhi Durbar Tiara to the Queen Mother. The tiara remained with the Queen Mother until her death in 2002 and was then passed to Queen Elizabeth II.
Queen Alexandra’s Dagmar Necklace
The Dagmar Necklace was a wedding gift given to Princess Alexandra of Denmark, the great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II. It was presented in 1863 by King Frederik VII of Denmark and was passed down from Queen Alexandra to Queen Mary to the Queen Mother, who then gave it to Queen Elizabeth II in 1952.
The list doesn’t stop here. Her Majesty’s personal collection includes around 50 tiaras that have their own famous stories and some of these tiaras are worth millions. It’s the most expensive and extensive jewelry collection in the world.
Amid the growing speculations regarding Her Majesty’s jewelry collection and its inheritance, many took to Twitter recently, instigating that it was about time the royal family returned the jewels back to their respective countries. Her Majesty’s Crown Jewels include India’s prominent Koh-I-Noor diamond and the Great Star of Africa, the largest uncut diamond in the world. While Koh-I-Noor was mined in India during the 14th century, the Great Star of Africa was mined in South Africa in 1905. Several Twitter users called for the return of both diamonds.
The end of the second Elizabethan Era has left people wondering who will inherit the jewelry collection. According to Josh Rom, the royal commentator, the bulk of the items from Queen Elizabeth II’s personal jewelry collection will pass to King Charles, with Camilla as his queen consort, and then Kate. While it’s not yet known exactly where each jewelry piece from Queen Elizabeth II’s personal collection will go, it’s presumed that it will be passed on to the closest members of her family.
Her Majesty’s jewelry collection is way more than merely an assortment of opulent, glaring pieces. And now after her demise, the question of the jewelry collection’s inheritance has left the world to meditate on it. For a queen who passionately devoted her entire life to serving the people, it’s obvious why they are so closely inquiring about who will inherit her jewelry collection.