Saturday, August 24, 2013

Gifts of Grandeur: Queen Mary II's Orb, 1689

Queen Mary II's Coronation Orb
Robert Viner, the Younger, 1689
Crown Copyright
The Royal Collection 
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Since Queen Mary II (1662-94) ruled as a joint sovereign with her consort William III, she required the creation of an additional orb and sceptre for the coronation ceremony of 1689. This is the orb which was made for Mary II. It looks quite grand, but there’s a story behind it.

The stones which were originally set in the orb were hired (as in rented) for the occasion of the coronation. These would originally have included diamonds, rubies, sapphires and emeralds. After the ceremony all of the stones were removed, returned to their supplier, and replaced with pastes. Huh…

Since this orb is basically a fancy costume piece now, it has not been used since the 1689 coronation, with one exception. On the occasion of Queen Victoria's funeral this was placed with the other, real, royal orb on Her Majesty’s coffin, to signify her two titles as Queen and Empress.

This orb was created by Robert Viner, the Younger—the Royal goldsmith at the time. It’s not without value. Aside from its historical significance, it is comprised of heavy gold, pearls, silver and rock crystal in addition to the glittering pastes. The orb, in general, was meant to symbolize the Christian world. To this end, it is surmounted with a cross and features bands of “jewels” and pearls dividing it up to represent the three continents known in medieval Europe.

The Orb in its Original Velvet Case
Crown Copyright
Image Courtesy of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

No comments: