Famous Diamond Diadem on stamps and coins will go on display for Jubilee exhibition

Exhibition curator Caroline de Guitaut holds Diamond Diadem
Release date: 
Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Diamond Diadem, worn by The Queen on British and Commonwealth stamps, is to go on display at Buckingham Palace this summer, in an exhibition that celebrates Her Majesty The Queen’s 60 years on the throne.  Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration, part of the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace (30 June – 8 July & 31 July – 7 October), shows the many ways in which diamonds have been used and worn by British monarchs over the last two centuries.  The exhibition includes a number of The Queen’s personal jewels – those inherited by Her Majesty or acquired during her reign.  The Diamond Diadem has been worn by The Queen on her journey to and from the State Opening of Parliament since the first year of her reign.

The Diamond Diadem, which also appears on certain issues of banknotes and coinage, is one of The Queen’s most widely recognised pieces of jewellery.  Despite its feminine associations, the piece was actually made for the famously extravagant coronation of George IV in 1821.  The event was planned for the summer of 1820, but had to be postponed for a year due to the trial of the King’s estranged wife, Queen Caroline.  When the coronation finally took place, the Diadem was barely visible over the King’s large velvet, plumed ‘Spanish’ hat.  The bill for the work records a cost of £290 for setting the jewels and £800 for the loan of the diamonds – diamonds were often hired for coronations at this time.  The Diadem was retained after the coronation, the King having settled a bill for over £8,000.

The Diadem is set with 1,333 brilliant-cut diamonds, including a four-carat pale yellow brilliant. It consists of a band with two rows of pearls either side of a row of diamonds, above which are diamonds set in the form of a rose, a thistle and two shamrocks – the national emblems of England, Scotland and Ireland. 

Worn often by Queen Adelaide, consort of William IV, the Diadem was inherited in 1837 by Queen Victoria, who was frequently painted and photographed wearing the piece.  She also appears wearing it on several early postage stamps, including the Penny Black.  The Diadem passed to Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, and then to Her Majesty The Queen.

Exhibition Curator Caroline de Guitaut said, ‘The Diamond Diadem is one of the most spectacular pieces of royal jewellery.  It is a rare combination of the historically important and the very familiar – seen by millions every day on stamps, banknotes and coins.’

For further information and photographs, please contact the Royal Collection Press Office, +44 (0)20 7839 1377, press@royalcollection.org.uk.  A selection of images is also available from www.picselect.com.