Given the sheer volume of jewels that Queen Elizabeth bequeathed, demanded, and received as gifts throughout her nearly century-long life, it would be impossible for even the most ardent royal observer to know the full scope of what lay in those Windsor vaults. . Her Majesty certainly has many favourites: the Queen Mary girls of Great Britain and Ireland and Vladimir Tiaras, Queen Victoria’s Prince Albert brooch, Burmese sapphires, and the Cullinanza. She is also generous when it comes to loaning her precious heirlooms to her family members. The Duchess of Cambridge is part of the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara and Queen Mary’s Diamond Bar Choker Bracelet. Meanwhile, the Duchess of Cornwall loves the stunning Boucheron Tiara necklace and festoon necklace that both belonged to the Queen Mother, who herself received the cut – and dozens of others – from a legendary collector named Margaret Greville.
Born in 1863 to a beer magnate and his lover, Greville began her rise through the ranks of the blue-blooded community when she married Ronald Greville, heir baronet and member of the Marlborough House group, a 19th century version of Turnip Toffs if you will, it revolved around the court of Albert Edward, then Prince of Wales (and by 1901, King Edward VII). Despite her husband’s death of pneumonia in 1908 after just 17 years of marriage, Mrs. Greville, who never remarried, has continued to cement her position as a preeminent social hostess – and pays tribute to the royal family.
She was particularly close to Alice Keeble, King Edward VII’s favorite mistress, who also happens to be Camilla Parker-Bowles’ great-grandmother (Greville was Sonia Kebble’s godmother, grandmother of the Duchess of Cornwall). She became befriended by Queen Mary and particularly adored Mary’s son-in-law Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, future consort of King George VI and later the Queen Mother – when the couple married in 1923, Greville hosted them at Poulsden Lacey, her large estate in Surrey, for their honeymoon.
Like Queen Mary, Greville had an impeccable eye and a voracious appetite for jewelry. She loved Boucheron and Cartier, and acquired gems from her travels around the world. And while Marie liked to buy jewels of the Russian Empire, Grevil probably preferred the French – she supposedly had in her collection a necklace that once owned Marie Antoinette, and another that belonged to Empress Josephine, Napoleon’s first wife. Since the Grevilles never had children, their entire collection (real ones only, of course – anything under £100 a maid) was left to Elizabeth, “in my loving thoughts”, when Greville died in 1942.
About 60 Peugeots are rumored to have been in Greville’s will but the public will likely never know their entire contents: only a few gems have featured in this collection over the past 79 years. However, a select few have become wonderful staples in the House of Windsor jewelry collection. The Queen Mother made excellent use of the two most valuable pieces: the greville tiara, which Boucheron created in 1921, and the five-strand diamond diadem necklace. (She also had a good sense of not making her debut until the end of World War II and the subsequent period of austerity.)
These shoppers now adorn the Duchess of Cornwall, who borrowed them from the Queen on important occasions. Other well-known treasures in the chest include a pair of diamond ivy clips that the Queen Mother gave to her daughter Elizabeth on her 21st birthday; chandelier earrings that the current king received as a wedding gift from my mother; a diamond and pearl brooch that the Queen loves for simple functions; A Sapphire and Diamond Floral Necklace Borrowed by Kate Middleton for a State Banquet in 2017; and the stunning emerald kokoshnik tiara that Princess Eugenie wore on her wedding day, the first public appearance of this gem since it entered the vaults of Windsor.
Below, 17 models of royals in jewels from Greville’s famous will.
The Queen Mother wore the Greville tiara – created by Boucheron for Marguerite Greville in 1921 – in its original form for a short time before making Cartier larger with the addition of clusters of diamonds at the top and a marquise-shaped diamond in the centre. In this 1954 selfie, she’s also wearing Greville Peardrop earrings, a 1938 Cartier creation that featured 20-carat pear-shaped diamonds—like a tiara, it was one of her favorite jewels.
more: 18 pictures of the royal family in diamonds
For the 1963 Royal 17th Film Show, the Queen Mother once again chose her Greville Tiara and Greville Peardrop earrings combination.
One evening at the Opera that same year, the Queen Mother paired the Greville tiara with the Greville Emeralds, a necklace and earrings whose exact provenance is unknown despite rumors circulating that this was the necklace — consisting of several square-shaped emeralds surrounded by clusters of diamonds — which Supposedly belonging to Marie Antoinette or Empress Josephine. The earrings, on the other hand, are large pear-shaped emeralds strung from diamonds.
more: 26 photos of the royal family glowing in emeralds
To mark the State Opening of Parliament in 1983, Queen Elizabeth wore the Greville Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau necklace, which her parents gave her as a wedding gift in 1947. Ms. Greville purchased the piece, which featured a deep V-shaped sapphire set within a diamond floral motif and finished with a diamond pendant. Pear-shaped – from Boucheron, 1907.
Among the jewelry Queen Elizabeth wore to a reception in the Netherlands in 1958 – Queen Alexandra Kokosnik’s tiara, her diamond choker necklace, and Queen Mary’s necklace brooch – were Greville Chandelier earrings. Like a ruby flower necklace, this was a wedding gift from the Queen Mother. The earrings made by Cartier feature diamonds in a variety of cuts, including emerald, pear, square, half-moon, trapeze, and baguette.
A closer look at Greville Chandelier earrings, as seen on Queen Elizabeth in 1992. Mrs. Greville first purchased a pair of much simpler diamond drop earrings from Cartier in 1918 and over the next 11 years they have been altered twice with the addition of 22 diamonds. Also pictured: the girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara and a rare example of a king wearing a necklace.
The Queen Mother wears an emerald greville in a Buckingham Palace photo in 1990.
For her 100th birthday in 2000, the Queen Mother went to ballet with three jewels from the estate of Greville: birddrop earrings, a 5-row festoon necklace (worn here in her 3-row incarnation), and a scroll brooch.
Queen Elizabeth gave the Greville tiara to the Duchess of Cornwall as a long-term loan after her 2005 marriage to Prince Charles. She did the same with the Diamond Festoon necklace, which Camila wore in all her 5-strand glory at the 2007 event in Uganda. Cartier first designed it as a two-row necklace in 1929, but Mrs. Greville returned to the House in 1938 to make it larger with three additional strands, which could be worn alone or tied to the original for a brilliant diamond. Show.
more: 19 photos of Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, radiant in diamonds
For dinner during her 2010 visit to Canada, Queen Elizabeth wore a piece of jewelry from every queen who came before her: Queen Mary’s tiara for girls from Great Britain and Ireland and a chain-link bracelet, Queen Alexandra’s Colette diamond necklace, Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee brooch, and Greville’s Queen Mother’s chandelier earrings.
The Queen hasn’t worn a Greville Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau necklace since the 1980s. In 2017, he finally made an appearance again on the Duchess of Cambridge, who borrowed the gem for a Buckingham Palace banquet for the state visit of King Philip and Queen Letizia of Spain.
In 2018, the Greville Ruby and Diamond Floral Bandeau necklace appeared again, this time on the Queen for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Buckingham Palace.
For her fall 2018 wedding at Windsor Castle, Princess Eugenie dipped into Grandma’s wardrobes to borrow an Emerald Kokoshnik tiara, made by Boucheron in 1919. It was the first time the stunning piece had rested on a 94-carat emerald centerpiece. He has been seen in public since Mrs. Greville’s death in 1942.
more: Princess Eugenie borrowed an emerald tiara from the Queen on her wedding day
The Scroll Brooch was created by Cartier for Mrs. Greville in 1929. Featuring three pearls establishing a diamond-encrusted coil design, the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth have turned to it on a number of occasions.
At Buckingham Palace’s reception for the diplomatic corps in 2019, Queen Elizabeth introduced a never-before-seen emerald necklace – along with her beloved Vladimir Tiara and Greville Emerald earrings – leading many to speculate that the piece might also have been from Greville’s testament, or perhaps It was a redesigned version of the Greville Emerald necklace, which has not been seen since the death of the Queen Mother in 2002.
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