I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, when the pace of life seems to slow down and I typically delve into the books that I received for Christmas.
I have mentioned that my favorite Christmas presents are always books. I posted on my book ‘wish list’ in late November (post seen here), and received several books on the list under the tree.
The best book that I received was not on the list and was a huge surprise. It is called The Queen’s Diamonds, by Hugh Roberts, and was published this year on the occasion of the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
I am a lifelong Anglophile, and given that my mother was born and raised in England, a love and appreciation for England and its history has always been a part of my life. My sister and I are avid royal family watchers, and I always visit the Crown Jewels when I am in London – they have a unique fascination to me.
This is truly a gorgeous book inside and out, and is full of amazing photography of both the jewels themselves (many of the pictures were newly commissioned for the book), as well as the royalty who have worn the pieces through the years (each piece is discussed in depth, including the origins of the piece, and the times it has been worn in public by its various owners). It is fascinating to see newer members of the royal family, including Camilla and Kate, wearing some of the pieces that have been in the family for generations.
The book is uniquely presented by placing the jewels in their historical context, starting with Queen Adelaide in the 1830s, going on to Queen Victoria, Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth, and Queen Elizabeth II. The story of each piece is detailed, including the changes to each piece through the years based on the personal taste of the owners and the fashions of the times.
I leave you with my favorite piece from the Queen’s Diamonds (which is also on the cover of the book), and one of her favorites too given the number of times she wears it – The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara. It was originally a gift to Princess May of Teck (the future Queen Mary) in 1893 as a gift for her wedding to King George V. Interestingly, it has been altered several times through the years; it was originally topped with large pearls, and the base was removed for years before the current Queen Elizabeth reattached the tiara to the bandeau base.
Queen Elizabeth II wearing the Girls of Great Britain and Ireland tiara.
Were any good books under your Christmas tree, design oriented or otherwise?
Best wishes for a happy and safe New Years!
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