18 April 2016

Index: The Queen's Bejeweled Birthday Presents

What do you get the woman who has everything? Well, a bejeweled birthday present never hurts. Most of what The Queen receives as birthday presents remains private (of course and as it should be, particularly in regards to personal gifts), but there are still some jewels from her vault that can be identified as past birthday gifts. These items come almost entirely from her earlier years.

As we approach her 90th birthday this week, I'm compiling those gifts we've covered here in this index. I wonder what she'll receive this year? Surely some goodies await...

Note: This index only includes jewels that have been covered on this blog and which have been identified as birthday gifts. (Please feel free to add more in the comments!) There are others that have not been covered yet, as well as pieces of jewelry that are open to speculation as to whether they were birthday presents or gifts for other occasions. Click on the name of the jewel for more information. 

1944, 18th Birthday 
Though The Queen likely received some smaller jewels for earlier birthdays, things really started to pick up when she turned 18: the Sapphire and Diamond 18th Birthday Bracelet from her father, the Cartier Halo Tiara from her mother's collection, and the Aquamarine Clip Brooches from her parents. Of all the birthday gifts we can identify, the aqua clips are by far the most popular, still appearing on the list of her favorite brooches year after year.

1945, 19th Birthday 
The Sapphire and Ruby Flower Spray Brooch came with matching earrings as a gift from Princess Elizabeth's parents, and is today scarcely seen.

Wartime, No Year Specified 
Some of these early gifts were items from her mother's jewelry collection, passed on to Princess Elizabeth. The practice was not unusual during the war and not unusual for a Royal Family at any time, really, since jewels pass down through generations anyway. The Queen Mother's Multi-Color Leaf Brooch is an early example, in Princess Elizabeth's collection since at least 1946.

1947, 21st Birthday 
The year Princess Elizabeth turned 21 was a prosperous year for her jewel box, as it included not only a big birthday but also her wedding. Her birthday coincided with a trip to Africa by the Royal Family, where she picked up the South African Necklace (later altered to provide for a bracelet as well, and still what she is said to call her "best diamonds"), and the Flame Lily Brooch, among other gifts. Her parents contributed another piece from Queen Elizabeth's jewels, the Greville Ivy Leaf Brooches. The Diplomatic Corps gave a pair of diamond floral earrings.

1986, 60th Birthday
The Queen received one kilogram of Welsh gold from the Gwynfynydd mine for this birthday. The gift likely went towards the tradition of Welsh gold wedding rings in the family, perhaps providing for The Earl and Countess of Wessex's rings.

2016, 90th Birthday
So far, the Racing Post 90th Birthday Brooch is the only confirmed birthday gem. Let's hope there's more to come.

Photos: Royal Collection/Queen Elizabeth II/DR