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Buckingham Palace is once again open to the public — but with some very sparkly additions!
Some of Queen Elizabeth's most treasured and personal jewels are on display at the monarch's London home in the latest exhibition organized by the Royal Collection Trust to celebrate the Queen's historic Platinum Jubilee year — including her famous Diamond Diadem.
"These are the Queen's personal jewels, she wears them regularly but they are very rarely displayed in public so it is a pretty unique opportunity to see them in this setting and to see them alongside the portraits is very special," says Caroline de Guitaut, curator of the exhibition.
The priceless diamond and pearl crown, set with 1,333 diamonds and 169 pearls was created for the coronation of George IV in 1821. Featuring diamonds set in the form of a rose, thistle and two shamrocks, the national emblems of England, Scotland and Wales — the dazzling crown has been worn by the Queen ever since her official coronation portraits were taken in 1952 by award-winning photographer Dorothy Wilding. She also wore the stunning sparkler on the day of her actual coronation in 1953. She has since worn it to almost all State Opening of Parliaments.
Royal Collection Trust The Diamond Diadem
The selection of jewels chosen for the exhibit was dictated by those worn in a series of portraits taken by Wilding in the early years of the Queen's reign. Those pictures, 24 in total, are also featured in the new exhibition. Wilding, who started taking pictures of the royal family in the 1920s and went to take the official portraits of the Queen for both her engagement and her accession, became the first female royal photographer in 1937 when she was commissioned to take portraits of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (known later as the Queen Mother) at his coronation.
Royal Collection Trust Queen Elizabeth wearing the Diamond Diadem
Other priceless jewels on display include The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, a wedding gift to Queen Mary in 1893 who then handed the piece down to her granddaughter Princess Elizabeth on her wedding day in 1947, the Dorset Bow brooch (exhibited for the first time), a sapphire and diamond Cartier bracelet given to her King George VI as an 18th birthday present in 1944 and the Vladimir Tiara, which features detachable emeralds.
Royal Collection Trust Queen Elizabeth photographed by Dorothy Wilding in 1952
Royal Collection Trust The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara
While most of the pieces of jewelry on display have only been worn by the Queen, the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace, a Cartier wedding gift chosen by the Queen herself, has also been worn by Kate Middleton in 2014 at the National Portrait Gallery and the Diplomatic Corps reception in 2019. Set with approximately 300 diamonds, the Queen wore it for her second sitting with Wilding in 1952 and it was those images that went on to form the basis of the monarch's image on postage stamps from 1953-1971.
Victoria Jones - WPA Pool/Getty Images Kate Middleton wearing the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace
Another stunning piece on show is the Delhi Durbar necklace, which includes an 8.8-karat diamond pendant cut from the Cullinan diamond — the largest diamond ever found. The accompanying emerald and diamond earrings are on display with the necklace for the first time.
Royal Collection Trust The Queen wearing the Delhi Durbar necklace and the Vladimir Tiara
Royal Collection Trust Delhi Durbar Necklace and Cullinan VII Pendant
The traditional summer opening of Buckingham Palace has not taken place since 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Platinum Jubilee: The Queen's Accession opens Friday at Buckingham Palace and runs until Oct 2.