Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014
This badge was one of those listed in Queen Charlotte’s bedroom at Buckingham House in 1819 when an inventory was made of the King’s jewels discovered there after the Queen’s death. According to correspondence between Princess Augusta and Lord Liverpool in 1815, it appears that the King packed the pieces away in 1804. When preparing to wear the jewels for the Installation of the Knights of the Garter on St George’s Day (April 23) 1805, the King could not remember where he had stored them and became greatly distressed. The 1819 inventory described the badge as ‘A very large Brilliant George with rubies, saphires [sic] in the drapery & Brilliant Fleur-de-lis at top’. There is no other provenance for the piece and it has been little worn, as later sovereigns have preferred other, lighter badges. The stone setting may be of the late eighteenth century and of continental, possibly Viennese, manufacture, while the reverse may be English. The use of the fleur-de-lis suspension is an interesting throwback to the suspensions of earlier Great Georges, most notably that depicted in Hollar’s engraving of Garter Insignia for Ashmole’s History of the Order, and the Marlborough George. The piece is perhaps too large to have originally been intended as a Garter badge and it may be that the chased reverse, which is crudely held in place by a series of rivets and screws, was added at a later point with the fleur-de-lis suspension to convert it into a George. The sculptural qualities of the piece and the wide base mean that it is best viewed when it is standing upright rather than hanging from a collar, more evidence to suggest that the piece was converted into a pendant George at some point before 1819.
Catalogue entry adapted from George III & Queen Charlotte: Patronage, Collecting and Court Taste, London, 2004