Saturday, November 20, 2010

Saturday Sparkle: “The Lesser George” Garter Insignia, 1810

The Lesser George
Sardonyx, Gold and Diamonds
Given to Prince Albert
by Queen Victoria
The Royal Collection
Two days before their wedding, Queen Victoria gave Prince Albert a set of magnificent jewels which included a diamond star, a badge and an unusual garter insignia (which is not worn on a garter, per se, but rather symbolic of being in “The Order of the Garter”). The insignia known as “The Lesser George” was the most important of the set. This piece was created from historical jewels belonging to previous monarchs—created originally in 1810. One hundred twenty-three brilliant-cut and one rose-cut diamond taken from the shoulder loop of George III frame this brilliant insignia which is carved with a figure of St. George and the dragon on one side and a figure of St. Andrew on the other. The carved stone is secured by gold pins so that it may be turned around to display either face.

After Prince Albert’s death, during Victoria’s long period of mourning, she wore “The Lesser George” in remembrance of her husband. She wore the piece for the first time at the wedding of the Prince of Wales (future King Edward VII) and Princess Alexandra. She wrote in her journal, “For the first time since December, ’61, [wore] the ribbon, star and badge of the Order of the Garter, the latter being one my beloved one had worn…”

No comments: