Snapshots of Royal History through Paintings: Investiture of Napoleon III

© Royal Collection Trust

A 19th century English painting by Edward Matthew Ward depicts the investiture of Emperor Napoleon III. The Emperor was bestowed with the Order of the Garter on April 16, 1855.

Background

At Queen Victoria’s invitation, Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugénie arrived in England on April 16, 1855 for an official state visit. They arrived at the port in Dover on their royal yacht Pélican where they were met by Prince Albert. The French Imperial Couple spent three days at Windsor and three days at Buckingham Palace in London. Some of the events included a state dinner at Windsor, a visit to the opera in London and a military review.

The Painting

As part of the state visit, Napoleon III received the Order of the Garter. As depicted in the painting, the investiture took place in the Throne Room at Windsor Castle. You can spot Queen Victoria bestowing the Order on Napoleon III. The painting boasts a number of fine details of this event because Queen Victoria allowed the painter to observe the investiture. Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting are looking on behind her. Prince Albert, adorned in his own Garter robes, is standing right behind Napoleon III. On the far right you can spot a seated Eugénie wearing her Pearl and Diamond Tiara. Next to her is a young Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and right behind her chair stands a young Princess Royal (later Empress Friedrich).

The Order of the Garter

In 1348, King Edward III was so enchanted by the mythical tales of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table that he set up his own group of knights, called the Order of the Garter. Today the Order is the oldest and highest Order of Chivalry that can be bestowed upon a British citizen.

History

Napoleon III reigned until his defeat during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. He was imprisoned for a short time at Schloss Wilhelmshöhe in Kassel, Germany. After his release, he and Eugénie took refuge in England. Napoleon III died in 1873; Eugénie died in 1920. Their only child, Louis-Napoléon, was killed at age 23 in 1879 while fighting in the Anglo-Zulu War.

I hope you enjoyed reading this snapshot. I have a few more up my sleeve. Stay tuned!

Sources

Royal Collection Trust

The Royal Household

The Coronation Necklace

© Royal Collection Trust

I tell you, it’s a lucky lady indeed who gets to wear a necklace such as this. The Coronation Necklace was made by Garrard for Queen Victoria (along with the Coronation Earrings) after the loss of her jewels. The necklace’s diamond pendant, known as the Lahore Diamond, weighs 22.48 carats and was given to Queen Victoria in 1851.

Queen Elizabeth II wore the Coronation Necklace for her coronation in 1953 (and has worn it plenty of times since then). It was also worn at the coronations of Queen Consort Alexandra in 1902, Queen Consort Mary in 1911 and Queen Consort Elizabeth in 1937.

Sources

Royal Collection Trust

The Coronation Earrings

© Royal Collection Trust

The Coronation Earrings were worn by Queen Elizabeth II for her coronation in 1953. Since her coronation, the queen has worn the earrings at other important events. The earrings were also worn at the coronations of Queen Consort Mary in 1911 and Queen Consort Elizabeth in 1937.

The magnificent diamond earrings were originally made for Queen Victoria by Garrard. She had the earrings made because in 1857 a good chunk of her family’s jewels were sent to Hanover when Victoria lost a lawsuit about where the jewels belonged. Victoria must have loved the earrings as she wore them quite often.

You can spot the diamond earrings in Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee portrait from 1897.

Fun Fact: You can buy a replica of the earrings (made of crystal) at the Royal Collection Shop.

Sources

Royal Collection Trust

A Very Royal Jewelry Auction is Coming to Sotheby’s

© Sotheby’s. Patricia and John Knatchbull.

Next month Sotheby’s is auctioning incredible jewelry from the collection of the late Countess Mountbatten of Burma (1924-2017). With an illustrious name like Mountbatten, we can’t just delve right into the jewels. Let’s dig into the family genealogy first, shall we?

The 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma was born Patricia Edwina Victoria Mountbatten in 1924. She was the eldest daughter of Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-1979) and his wife, the equally illustrious, Edwina Ashley (1900-1960). If the Mountbatten name seems familiar to you, it’s because Patricia’s father was Britain’s last Viceroy of India, the 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma, who was killed by the IRA in 1979. After her father’s assassination, Patricia inherited his peerage in her own right making her the 2nd Countess Mountbatten of Burma.

Wikimedia Commons. Patricia’s parents, Louis and Edwina Mountbatten.

Patricia was a great-great-granddaughter of Queen Victoria, through her father. The Earl of Mountbatten’s parents were Prince Louis of Battenberg (Mountbatten is the anglicized version of Battenberg and was changed in response to anti-German sentiments) and Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine.

Princess Victoria of Hesse and by Rhine was a grandchild of Queen Victoria through her mother, Princess Alice of the United Kingdom. Louis Mountbatten’s sister was Princess Alice, later Princess Andrew of Greece and Denmark, the mother of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. This made Patricia a first cousin to Prince Philip.

Patricia married John Knatchbull, 7th Baron Brabourne (1924-2005) in 1946. They had eight children together and by all accounts were happily married for almost sixty years. After Patricia’s death, her eldest son, Norton, inherited her title becoming the 3rd Earl Mountbatten of Burma.

Now let’s take a look at a few items on the auction block.

© Sotheby’s. The front of the cross pendant.

On the auction block is this hardstone, enamel and diamond pendant made by goldsmith and jeweler Robert Phillips. It was probably commissioned by Queen Victoria in 1878 in memory of her daughter, Princess Alice of the United Kingdom (the grandmother of Earl Mountbatten). It was a terrible shock to Queen Victoria to lose her daughter in 1878. She was Victoria’s first child to die and was only 35 years old. Alice left behind her husband and five children. (Another child died of the same illness, diphtheria, right before Alice.)

© Sotheby’s. The back of the pendant.

It makes sense to me that Queen Victoria commissioned an object to commemorate her second daughter. The back of the pendant has a locket which contains hair, probably Princess Alice’s. The engraved date is Alice’s death. (Sadly, Alice’s family would endure more tragedy forty years later when two of her daughters, Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna and Tsarina Alexandra, were killed by the Bolsheviks.) Sotheby’s estimates the pendant might fetch between £2,000 and £3,000, but my guess is a higher number.

© Sotheby’s

Also on the auction block is this elegant 18th century brooch brought into the family via the Knatchbulls. The center stone is a cushion-shaped yellow diamond. Sotheby’s estimates the sale to be between £40,000 and £60,000.

© Sotheby’s

This lovely gem and diamond necklace dates from the 1950s. It’s set with carved rubies, emeralds and sapphires and circular cut diamonds. It’s not by Cartier, but it’s in the style of the firm’s famous Tutti Frutti jewelry. Sotheby’s estimates the jewel to sell between £40,000 and £60,000.

© Sotheby’s

Also up for auction is a pair of gem set and diamond clip brooches in the Tutti Frutti inspiration, circa 1930s. The clips match the necklace perfectly, don’t you think? Sotheby’s estimates the sale to bring in between £10,000 and £15,000.

Good luck to the lucky buyers!

Queen Victoria’s Emerald Necklace, Earrings and Brooch

© The Royal Archivist. Please do not duplicate.

Yesterday we had a peek at Queen Victoria’s Emerald Diadem. Let’s take a look at the rest of the parure, which includes a necklace, earrings and a brooch, all designed by Prince Albert for Queen Victoria. The parure was created in 1843, two years before the creation of the emerald diadem.

The brooch’s emerald weighs 20 carats and is surrounded by diamonds. The necklace is composed of nine large emeralds and nine smaller emeralds, all surrounded by sparkling diamonds. The drop earrings also contain two fairly large pear-shaped emeralds and two smaller emeralds, also encircled by diamonds. Queen Victoria was thrilled with her gifts.

Today, the entire parure is still intact and owned by the descendants of Princess Louise, Duchess of Fife. It’s on a long-term loan to Kensington Palace, where I was very lucky to have viewed the parure in person.

Sources

Tiaras: A History of Splendour by Geoffrey C. Munn

Victoria Revealed Exhibit at Kensington Palace