Saturday 24 August 2019

Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet on view at the V&A

The small crown is the centrepiece of its jewellery gallery.

Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet, designed by Prince Albert, (Victoria And Albert Museum)
Queen Victoria’s sapphire and diamond coronet, designed by Prince Albert, (Victoria And Albert Museum)

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

A new display at the Victoria & Albert Museum could reduce some visitors to tears.

Queen Victoria’s dazzling sapphire and diamond coronet was gifted to the museum and is the centrepiece of its newly reopened jewellery gallery.

Designed by Prince Albert, the monarch wore the jewels instead of her coronation crown when she emerged from mourning in 1866, to attend the State Opening of Parliament five years after Albert’s death.

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Queen Victoria, Francois Forster, 846, after Franz Xaver Winterhalter(1805-73) (Victoria And Albert Museum, London)

The coronet has been seen by some in preparation for its public unveiling on Thursday at the V&A, where it goes on permanent display.

And Richard Edgcumbe, senior curator at the museum, told the Press Association it had made onlookers emotional.

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Papillon ring designed by Glenn Spiro (Victoria And Albert Museum)

“They love it… People are just reduced, in some cases, to the odd tear,” he said.

“Even last week, a Romanian case maker (working on the display) was asking, ‘Can I touch it?’ And what the women of Britain have thought about it is just the same.”

The small crown was designed for Victoria by Prince Albert in the couple’s wedding year, 1840, and she wore it in a famous portrait in 1842 which took the monarch’s image around the world.

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The coronet will go on permanent display at the Victoria And Albert Museum (Tim Ireland/PA)

“It’s not big, it’s delicate but beautiful,” Edgcumbe said.

“It’s the widow as well as the young queen.”

The coronet, made by goldsmith Joseph Kitching for £415, has been gifted to the V&A by financier and philanthropist William Bollinger.

Other dazzling objects on display in the William and Judith Bollinger Gallery include Beyonce’s Papillon ring, which the singer gave to the museum.

The laying of the foundation stone for the V&A building in 1899 was Victoria’s last public appearance before her death in 1901.

V&A director Tristram Hunt said the coronet was “one of the greatest jewels to survive from the early decades of her reign.”

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