Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Unusual Artifacts: The Duke of Clarence and Princess May of Teck, 1891-2

The Victoria & Albert Museum

This locket was made to celebrate the engagement of Princess May of Teck (later Queen Mary) and the Duke. But, wait! The attractive gent on the reverse isn’t the Duke of York (later King George V, Mary’s husband). No, he’s the Duke of Clarence—George’s brother to whom Mary was originally engaged. As I’ve noted many times before, The Duke of Clarence died very soon after the engagement, leaving Princess May to marry his younger brother, the future King George V. So, it worked out well. George and Mary were very devoted to one another for the rest of his life.

Nonetheless, this silver locket with photographs of Princess May of Teck and the Duke of Clarence is quite rare and exceptional as souvenirs of their brief, tragic engagement are difficult to come by. A double-sided circular pendant, it is made of silver with the photographs mounted behind glass, and ten balls between two cables which run around the drum. It was made in Birmingham, England around 1891. 

The Duke of Clarence and Avondale, Prince Eddy as he was called, on the reverse of the locket.

Princess May upon her engagement to Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence and Avondale

Princess May upon her marriage to the Duke of York, Eddy's brother, the future King George V.

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