The Culture Minister has temporarily banned Queen Victoria’s wedding coronet from leaving its home here in the UK, in the hope a British buyer can be found.
The coronet is a diamond and sapphire piece, which was given to the young Queen by her husband, Prince Albert, as a wedding gift in 1840. Albert, a patron of the arts and something of an architect, designed the circlet tiara himself. It is now valued at £5 million.
Measuring 11.5cm (4.5in) wide, the coronet’s 11 sapphires are set in gold, with the diamonds set in silver. The Queen noted in her famous diaries that Albert “has such good taste and arranges everything for me about my jewellery.”
It was Matt Hancock, the government’s culture minister, who imposed the ban. “Queen Victoria’s coronet is stunning. It is one of the most iconic jewels from a pivotal period in our history and symbolises one of our nation’s most famous love stories,” Hancock said.
“I hope that we are able to keep the coronet in the UK and on display for the public to enjoy for years to come.”
Victoria and Albert were one of very few couples in the Royal Family, and indeed aristocratic circles, who married for love.
The coronet features in the iconic portrait of Victoria, by Franz Xavier Winterhalter in 1842. It sits atop the Queen’s styled hair. She also (unusually) opted to wear the piece in 1866, when she attended the State Opening of Parliament for the first time since Albert’s death.
The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest, administered by the Arts Council, recommended that the licence – requested by a potential buyer to export the piece – be deferred until at least 27th December, on the grounds of the coronet’s close connection with British history and national life.
This temporary ban on it leaving the country means it could find a buyer at home, instead of it going abroad.
The coronet was given by George V and Mary to their daughter, Princess Mary, on her marriage to Viscount Lascelles in 1922. The sapphire brooch to match the circlet was given to Victoria by her fiance the day before their wedding; this is currently part of The Queen’s jewellery collection, and is often seen on her blue outfits.