This year’s summer opening at Buckingham Palace focuses on The Queen’s Accession, in a special Platinum Jubilee event. We had the pleasure of attending the ‘Platinum Jubilee: The Queen’s Accession’ preview, prior to its opening to the public, and we highly recommend it for all royal fans!
The exhibition features stunning jewellery from The Queen’s personal collection and iconic photographs of the 96-year-old Monarch in her early reign. The State Rooms are now open for the first time since 2019.
Visitors are guided through various state rooms prior to, and after, the exhibition. Guests see a vast collection of paintings, the Throne Room, the Music Room and even the Ballroom – familiar for their roles as backdrops for numerous engagements and events throughout the royal calendar.
Opening the exhibition, visitors are greeted with the sight of Princess Elizabeth’s outfit that she wore to the coronation of her father, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1937. Visitors can see the embellished cream dress, purple robe and gold coronet, which have previously been on display at Glamis Castle, the Queen Mother’s ancestral home.
The lace dress features half sleeves with a golden waistband and gold bows down the front. The purple robe is tied on with golden tassels, which have lost some of their lustre over the years, but there are clearly parallels with the ones her parents wore, and also her own robe of estate, currently on display at Windsor Castle.
Also on display is the official portrait from the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth taken by Dorothy Wilding in 1937.
Wilding’s work features prominently throughout the exhibition, including the official portrait taken to mark The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh’s 1947 engagement, when she was still a Princess and he a naval officer.
Wilding, who had been taking royal portraits since the 1920s, took the first official portrait of Elizabeth as Queen in 1952, in the immediate aftermath of her accession.
Her first big royal commission came in 1934, when she was selected to take the official engagement photographs of Prince George, Duke of Kent, and Princess Marina of Greece.
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Our favourite part of the exhibition was the jewellery displayed, and it even features some of our most-rated pieces. Many of the items seen in Wilding’s portraits were on display and featured personal connections to The Queen.
We’ll take you through some of the jewellery highlights featured in the exhibition. First up is The Girls of Great Britain and Ireland Tiara, which was originally a gift to Queen Mary upon her marriage to George V in 1893. The tiara originally featured 14 teardrop pearls in place of diamonds at the top. The current diamonds were added in 1914 from another tiara in Mary’s collection.
Another sparkler that caught our eye was the Nizam of Hyderabad necklace, which has wonderful history behind it. Upon her wedding to Prince Philip, The Nizam of Hyderabad instructed Cartier that Elizabeth should select a wedding gift herself. The necklace also has an additional to the set in the form of a pair of brooches.
You might remember this piece has been leant to The Duchess of Cambridge previously.
The Nizam of Hyderabad set features approximately 300 diamonds in total. The Queen wore the necklace for her second sitting with Dorothy Wilding in April 1952, which ended up becoming the image on postage stamps from 1953 until 1971.
As visitors journey through the exhibition, they come to Wilding’s final sitting with The Queen that took place in 1956, which were commissioned for new currency by the Bank of England; they were, however, not used.
For the occasion, The Queen wore the Vladimir Tiara. The piece was made for Grand Duchess Vladimir of Russia in the 1870s but was sold by her daughter to Queen Mary in 1921. In the portrait, Her Majesty can be seen to be wearing the badge and sash of the Order of the Garter, as well as Queen Mary’s Dorset Brooch – also part of the exhibition.
Whilst not part of the exhibition, one notable mention is The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Lunch by Lucy Sparrow. The display is created in felt, which shows a celebratory table of British produce seen at the Big Jubilee Lunch attended by The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall.
The table features over 1,000 items all felted, including street party favourites such as scotch eggs, sausage rolls, cheese and pickle sandwiches, hula-hoops, jelly, a Victoria sponge and of course the brand new Platinum Pudding.
The exhibition runs until 2nd October 2022 – you can book tickets here.