Wedding Gifts of Queen Elizabeth II

When Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II) married Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark 75 years ago, the couple received over 2,500 gifts, which were sent from family, heads-of-state, and well-wishers around the world, which included spectacular Royal Heirlooms alongside household items, food, and clothing. The gifts were displayed at St James’s Palace between November 1947 and March 1948, and were seen by over 200,000 visitors.

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The highlight of the gifts were the spectacular gifts of Jewellery to the Princess, which was worn throughout her life, and frequently exhibited, most recently at Buckingham Palace, where I saw them on the day the Queen passed away. 

From her groom, the former Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark (later the Duke of Edinburgh), the future Queen and received a spectacular Engagement Ring created from the Tiara that his mother, Princess Alice of Greece, had received as a wedding gift from her uncle and aunt, Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna of Russia. From the leftover diamonds, there was a spectacular Diamond Bracelet designed by the Prince, which was worn by the Queen through her life and has, in recent years, been worn by the now Princess of Wales. From her mother-in-law, Princess Alice, the future Queen received a spectacular Diamond Meander Tiara, now worn by Princess Anne. 

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The Princess’ parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, presented her with a varied collection of jewels, the highlight of which were the Queen Anne and Queen Caroline Pearl Necklaces, important family heirlooms which were worn by the bride on her Wedding Day, though only after they had to be fetched from the display by her Private Secretary on the morning of the wedding, who had to commandeer the King of Norway’s car to return them tot eh Place in the midst of the Crowds. The most notable story came from another jewel mishap that day, when Queen Mary’s Fringe Tiara snapped and had to be hastily repaired. 

The gifts from the King included the George VI Sapphire Parure, bought by the King at Carrington & Co, while the Queen presented the Greville Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau Necklace and the Greville Chandelier Earrings, which she had inherited from the late Dame Margaret Greville a few years earlier.  

The most splendid gifts to the future Queen were from her grandmother, Queen Mary, the highlight of which was the spectacular Girls of Great Britain & Ireland Tiara, originally a wedding gift to Queen Mary in 1893, which was a lifelong favourite of the late Queen, and displayed at Buckingham Palace earlier this year. 

Among Queen Mary’s Wedding Gifts were the Duchess of Teck’s Pearl Earrings (also worn on the Wedding Day), alongside Queen Mary’s Diamond Stomacher, which was only worn once in its entirety by the late Queen. There were many of Queen Mary’s own wedding gifts given to her granddaughter, among them a pair of Pearl Earrings given by the Ladies of Devonshire, a pair of Indian Diamond Bangles from the Bombay Presidency, a Diamond Bow Brooch from the County of Dorset and a Ruby and Diamond Bracelet from the County of Cornwall, alongside an 18th-century Snuff Box given by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester.

From the City of London, the Princess received her spectacular City of London Fringe Necklace, similar to the Harewood Fringe Tiara given to her aunt, Mary, Princess Royal and Countess of Harewood, and the Kent City of London Fringe Tiara, given to Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent.

Among the most spectacular presents to the future Queen were the gifts from the Nizam of Hyderabad, who gave instructions to Cartier in London to allow the Princess to choose whatever she wanted as a wedding gift. She chose the spectacular Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara, which was sadly dismantled through Brooches from which were worn as recently as earlier this year. There was also the Nizam of Hyderabad Necklace, a lifelong favourite that has been worn by the Princess of Wales in recent years but was also displayed at Buckingham Palace for the Platinum Jubilee. 

King Farouk of Egypt presented a gold and jade necklace. From the Sheikh of Bahrain, the Princess received seven large pearls, two of which were used to create a spectacular pair of Pearl and Diamond Earrings, which have been a favourite of the Princess of Wales in recent years, having been worn for the Funeral of Queen Elizabeth II.

From Canadian Geologist Dr John Williamson, the Princess received the spectacular 23.6 carat Williamson Diamond, considered the finest pink diamond in existence, which was set in a Cartier brooch in 1952 and worn throughout the late Queen’s life. 

The Princess also received a gift of 96 rubies from the people of Burma, which were believed to protect from 96 diseases (a prophetic gift since the Queen passed away at the age of 96). In 1973, they were used, alongside diamonds from the Nizam of Hyderabad Tiara, to create the controversial Burmese Ruby Tiara, which has been periodically worn for the last few decades. 

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Rationing was still enforced, so many people sent gifts of food, with the ingredients for the official wedding cake coming from the Girl Guides of Australia, while 500 tins of pineapple were given by the Governor of Queensland, with other items including sugared almonds, tins of salmon and a box of apples from Kent, which were boxed into parcels for pensioners and widows.

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 Princess Margaret gave a luxurious picnic box set, while glassware was given by the Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Sweden (the aunt of the groom) and the American President. There was a Royal Worcester dinner and dessert service from the Brigade of Guards, while the people of France and China presented porcelain and Princess Elizabeth’s friends sent her a pair of 18th-century silver-gilt candelabra and a Rockingham dinner service.

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The Princess famously received many ration coupons for her wedding dress, which had to be returned, though there were also 131 pairs of nylons and 17 pairs of silk stockings, 38 handbags and 24 pairs of gloves, alongside a piece of cloth spun by Gandhi and a cape of ostrich feathers from South Africa. 

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