18 April 2012

The Queen's Top 10 Diamonds: #5. Her Engagement Ring

This is the smallest item on our countdown...but it’s also probably the diamond that Her Majesty wears most frequently, and you have to have some recognition for that.
Queen Elizabeth's engagement ring
Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, born Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, proposed to Princess Elizabeth with a simple and elegant diamond ring: a 3 carat diamond solitaire flanked on each side by 5 smaller diamonds, all set in platinum. The diamonds were taken from a tiara owned by Philip’s mother, Princess Alice (this is the tiara), and the ring was created by London jeweler Philip Antrobus Ltd. Prince Philip was heavily involved in the design, and had definite ideas about what he wanted.
Announcing their engagement, July 1947
The ring was a little too big for the princess, but the jeweler had it fixed up in time to wear it for the official engagement announcement, and forever thereafter. It is easily spotted whenever you can catch her without her trademark gloves on. Amusingly, the ring is supposed to be one of the signs her staff watches out for: when she starts twisting it around her finger, The Boss has had enough.
Wearing the ring
While coming up with my own list of the queen's top 10 diamonds, I wondered what might the lady herself pick. I have to think this one would make – top, maybe – such a list. And for that, it claims a spot on mine.

Since we’re talking Philip's gifts, I’ll throw in a tip of the hat to his wedding gift bracelet.
Prince Philip's wedding gift bracelet
The Duke of Edinburgh's wedding present for Princess Elizabeth used more of the diamonds from his mother's dismantled tiara. The brilliants are again set in platinum by Philip Antrobus, and again the groom had a heavy hand in the design.
Wearing the bracelet, in 1948 (left) and for her 2012 Diamond Jubilee portrait (right)
Queen Elizabeth still wears her wedding gift. Recently, it got a rather prestigious outing when she chose to wear it for her official jubilee photographs. A lovely gesture to the guy that’s stood by her side for all this time, don’t you think?

Photos: Leslie Field/Queen Elizabeth II/Royal Collection/Zimbio