A Close Look at the British Royal Family’s Engagement Rings The Queen Mother
The Duke of York gave Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (aka
II’s mother, who later in life was referred to as the Queen Mother or Queen Mum) a sapphire ring (which is something we’ll see given to Windsor brides again and again as we make our way down the family tree). The ring had diamond accents and was complemented by a Welsh gold wedding band. Eventually, she decided to swap out her engagement ring for a large pearl surrounded by diamonds.
Photo: Getty Images More The Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson
Edward VIII abdicated the throne to marry twice divorced American Wallis Simpson, presenting her with a 19.77-carat emerald ring. The inside of the ring was inscribed with the words: “We are ours now 27 x 36.” The numbers are shorthand for the date he proposed, October 27, 1936.
Photo: Getty Images More Queen Elizabeth II
The diamonds for Queen Elizabeth II’s engagement ring came from a tiara belonging to Prince Philip’s mother, Princess Andrew of Greece. Prince Philip designed the square-cut diamond engagement ring with diamond side stones and had it set in platinum. The queen still wears this ring every day, paired with her Welsh gold wedding band.
Photo: Getty Images More Princess Margaret
Five years after her engagement to Group Captain Peter Townsend fell apart, Queen Elizabeth’s sister, Princess Margaret, received a ruby engagement ring that was designed by her future husband, photographer Antony Armstrong-Jones. The ruby surrounded by diamonds was created to look like a rosebud in honor of the princess’s middle name: Rose.
Photo: Getty Images More Princess Diana
Princess Diana got what most women really want—to pick her own ring. In 1981, Prince Charles presented her with a selection from Garrard (the then crown jeweler). He asked her to choose her favorite, and she opted for an Ceylon sapphire stone surrounded by diamonds set in white gold—which also happened to be a stock item. Critics—including some in the royal family—where unhappy that the future princess selected something that by most standards wasn’t considered unique and also wasn’t bespoke. (The ring was featured in Garrard’s catalog, so anyone with $60,000 at the time could have purchased the same ring for themselves.) Some insist she chose it because it was the biggest. Others claim it wasn’t and that it simply reminded her of her mother’s engagement ring. Regardless, the princess loved it so much that she continued to wear it on occasion after her divorce from Prince Charles.
When Princess Diana died, the ring reportedly went to Prince Harry, while Prince William inherited a Cartier watch. Harry later decided that the ring should be on the finger of the future Queen of England, so the brothers exchanged heirlooms. Some say they actually made a deal that whichever brother got married first would give the ring to his fiancée—either way, it ended up on Kate Middleton’s finger.
Photo: Getty Images More Princess Anne
Mark Phillips proposed to Princess Anne with a classic sapphire set between two diamonds. The princess also received a sapphire ring from her second husband, Timothy Laurence—but with a cabochon stone flanked by three diamonds on each side, this one was more bohemian in style.
Photo: Rex Features More The Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson
In 1986, Prince Andrew is said to have proposed to Sarah Ferguson with an oval-cut Burmese ruby from Garrard jewelers because it matched the color of her fiery red hair. Afterward, ruby rings were in high demand.
Photo: Getty Images More Sophie Rhys Jones, Countess of Wessex
Prince Edward also proposed with a ring from go-to royal jeweler Garrard. He gave Sophie Rhys-Jones a 2-carat oval diamond surrounded by two smaller heart-shaped gems. The ring is valued at around $150,000.
Photo: Getty Images More Autumn Phillips
Princess Anne’s son Peter Phillips was the first of Queen Elizabeth II’s grandchildren to marry. He met Autumn Kelly at the 2003 Canadian Grand Prix and proposed with a platinum ring containing an oval center diamond with more diamonds on either side.
Photo: Getty Images More Zara Tindall
Equestrian Zara Tindall received a custom-designed diamond and platinum ring with a divided diamond band from former rugby player Mike Tindall.
Photo: Getty Images More
Prince William reportedly carried his mother’s sapphire engagement ring with him in his backpack for three weeks before finally asking Kate Middleton to marry him in a spartan log cabin during their Kenyan holiday. Some didn’t like the fact that a ring from a failed marriage was being repurposed, but Prince William has said the ring will always remind him of his mother, saying: “Obviously, she’s not going to be around to share in any of the fun and excitement of it all, so this is my way of keeping her sort of close to it all.”
While some have dubbed the ring the “commoner’s sapphire,” minutes after Middleton appeared wearing it for the first time, jewelry stores around the world started getting calls from clients looking for something similar. Now, it is valued at more than $300,000, but is considered priceless because of its legacy as the engagement ring worn by both Princess Diana and the Duchess of Cambridge.
Photo: Getty Images More Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
Prince Charles proposed to his longtime love Camilla Parker Bowles with a diamond that once belonged to the Queen Mum. The Art Deco piece is one of the larger engagement rings in the main royal family and is often said to be one of the most valuable.
Photo: Getty Images More Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex
Prince Harry designed Meghan Markle’s engagement stunner, a three-stone diamond ring, himself. The center gem comes from Botswana, a country near and dear to the couple’s heart: “We were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other,” Harry said of the couple’s time in the country.
The two smaller stones belonged to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana. He included them as a way “to make sure she is with us on this crazy journey together.” Photo: Getty Images More Princess Eugenie of York
Jack Brooksbank proposed to Princess Eugenie of York with a blush-colored padparadscha sapphire ring surrounded by diamonds. The rare gemstone, known for its unique pink-orange glow, is most typically found in Sri Lanka. It also bares a striking resemblance to the ring that Eugenie’s mother, Sarah, Duchess of York, received from Prince Andrew in 1986.
Photo: Getty Images More Princess Beatrice of York
Princess Beatrice of York’s engagement ring, designed by Shaun Leane, features a diamond stone on a platinum pavé band. The ring, according to Leane, was inspired by Art Deco and Victorian styles. Her fiancé, Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi, proposed to her in Italy.
Photo: HRH Princess Eugenie/Courtesy of Buckingham Palace More
On September 26 Buckingham Palace shared engagement portraits of Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi and Princess Beatrice of York with the princess’s diamond engagement ring on full display. It was the handiwork of Shaun Leane, a Mayfair jeweler known for his collaborations with Alexander McQueen. Jewelry aficionados everywhere immediately swooned.
Her sister’s sparkler also turned heads. When Princess Eugenie of York and Jack Brooksbank released their official engagement photos, one couldn’t help but notice her blush-colored padparadscha sapphire ring. Surrounded by diamonds, the rare gemstone, which is known for its unique pink-orange glow and most typically found in Sri Lanka, bore a striking resemblance to the ring her mother, Sarah, Duchess of York, received from Prince Andrew in 1986. Of course the royal family is known for passing down family heirlooms as tradition, so a nod to the jewelry worn by her mother decades earlier seemed only an appropriate choice.
Royal engagements have offered many thoughtful ring moments over the years. When
Prince Harry’s engagement to Meghan Markle was announced in 2017, it was revealed that two smaller stones on her ring in fact belonged to Harry’s mother, Princess Diana. He included them as a way “to make sure she is with us on this crazy journey together.” Similarly Prince William reportedly carried his mother’s sapphire engagement ring with him in his backpack for three weeks before asking Kate Middleton to marry him in 2010. (Minutes after Middleton appeared wearing it for the first time, jewelry stores around the world started getting calls from clients looking for something similar.)
And what about the rest of the British royal family? Above, see more of the best royal engagement rings.
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