To most people, a 19th wedding anniversary is mere bronze. But for Queen Camilla, it’s diamonds, diamonds and more diamonds!

 

 

When Camilla Parker Bowles married Prince Charles, 19 years ago today, the Duchess of Cornwall was given access to one of the most important and exclusive jewellery collections in the world.

The past 18 months have seen her wearing a number of the late Queen Elizabeth’s favourite pieces.

The Queen Consort received wedding presents in her own right, including some outstanding jewels from the Saudi Royal Family, and a plethora of personal pieces from her husband, many with sentimental meaning.

 

Some, indeed, had once belonged to her great-grandmother, Alice Keppel, a  mistress to Edward VII, King Charles’s great-great-grandfather – pieces which King Charles has enjoyed finding and buying for his wife since the early days of their rekindled relationship.

Debutante Camilla Shand at her coming-out party in 1965
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Debutante Camilla Shand at her coming-out party in 1965

Alice Keppel, Camilla's great-grandmother, had a long-term affair with Edward VII
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Alice Keppel, Camilla’s great-grandmother, had a long-term affair with Edward VII

Prince Charles and Camilla are pictured at a  Cirencester Park polo match in July 1975
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Prince Charles and Camilla are pictured at a  Cirencester Park polo match in July 1975

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It is said that, when the young Camilla Shand first met Prince Charles through their mutual friend, Lucia Santa Cruz, that she had made a joke of about the colourful if somewhat disreputable connection between their families.

The Keppel ruby and diamond tiara, given to Mrs Keppel by the newly  crowned King Edward in the early 1900s, is one of these gifts.

Similar in style to one made at the same time by Fabergé, it is made of gold and platinum and set with swirls of pavé-set diamonds elaborated by 14 oval and pear-shaped synthetic rubies.

This might sound strange – a king giving synthetics – but these ‘rubies’ were very fashionable at the time, having been finally perfected by Auguste Verneuil in time for the Paris World Fair in 1900. They were in high demand.

The combination of rubies and diamonds signifies eternal love, which makes the piece a particularly appropriate gift from the Prince of Wales, as he was then.  The tiara has since been transformed into a necklace.

There is another Keppel family tiara in the collection, also – a magnificent diamond set-piece found locked in a safe at a London jeweller’s. Bought by Charles  for Camilla, it has subsequently been transformed into a spectacular necklace and pair of earrings.

Like many an English Queen before her, Queen Camilla is partial to pearl necklaces and wears them with a variety of clasps – many of which have been bought for her by her husband.

Perhaps the most fabulous of which is the enormous 1830’s pink topaz and diamond Georgian brooch, which the Queen wears fastened as a clasp to a sumptuous five strand pearl choker, first seen together in 2008.

The enormous topaz is bordered with a halo of small old mine cut diamonds, and then surrounded with a halo of 26 large, brilliant diamonds; she originally had it as the clasp of a longer multi-strand pearl necklace. T

The brooch, and its accompanying earrings were bought at Sotheby’s in 2000 by the then Prince Charles and given to his future wife.

Queen Camilla also often wears a three strand pearl necklace; this was given to her by Prince Charles and had belonged to his beloved grandmother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

Camilla wore this early on in their marriage with an Art Deco diamond clasp during a visit to Egypt in 2006.

This necklace was originally the Keppel ruby and diamond tiara which was later  made into a necklace
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This necklace was originally the Keppel ruby and diamond tiara which was later  made into a necklace

This necklace, too, was also once a Keppel tiara which was found in a safe at a London jewellers
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This necklace, too, was also once a Keppel tiara which was found in a safe at a London jewellers

For millennia, serpents have represented everlasting love. Prince Albert, for example, gave Queen Victoria an engagement designed as a serpent.

Camilla has a rather more spectacular snake set with diamonds and two small rubies for its eyes. It encircles the neck as a sumptuous necklace.

It is thought to have been given by Charles in 2001.

Interestingly the necklace is not dissimilar in design from the Fabergé Keppel Case, given to Edward VII by his favourite mistress Mrs Keppel.

When he died Queen Alexandra returned it to Alice Keppel, who subsequently gave it to Queen Mary is her will and which has remained in the Royal Collection ever since.

As we can see in the picture above of Queen Camilla wearing the fabulous snake necklace at a State Dinner in Nairobi last October. She is also wearing a pair of diamond pavé Van Cleef & Arpels earrings – one of many pieces of jewellery that she has in the Alhambra style from one of the world’s major jewellery maisons. These, too, are said to have been a gift from her husband.

Camilla is particularly fond of wearing the Alhambra style bracelets.

Of course, as with most couples the engagement ring is the ultimate piece of jewellery given and received.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, holds a sequined Union Jack handbag designed by Lulu Guinness at a gala evening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York
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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, holds a sequined Union Jack handbag designed by Lulu Guinness at a gala evening at the Museum of Modern Art in New York

Camilla Parker Bowles stepping out in public together for the first time in 1999 following a 50th birthday dinner-dance for Mrs Parker Bowles's sister, Annabel Elliott, at the Ritz hotel
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Camilla Parker Bowles stepping out in public together for the first time in 1999 following a 50th birthday dinner-dance for Mrs Parker Bowles’s sister, Annabel Elliott, at the Ritz hotel

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall greets wellwishers during the opening of a new play park 14 April, 2005, in Ballater, Aberdeenshire. It was the first official duty for the honeymooning couple - known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland - since their wedding
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The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall greets wellwishers during the opening of a new play park 14 April, 2005, in Ballater, Aberdeenshire. It was the first official duty for the honeymooning couple – known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland – since their wedding

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall attends the Royal Academy Annual Dinner to celebrate the Summer Exhibition at The Royal Academy Of Arts in 2015
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Camilla Duchess of Cornwall attends the Royal Academy Annual Dinner to celebrate the Summer Exhibition at The Royal Academy Of Arts in 2015

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall attends day 2 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 17, 2009
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Camilla Duchess of Cornwall attends day 2 of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 17, 2009

King Charles III and Queen Camilla arrive at a State Banquet in Nairobi last year
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King Charles III and Queen Camilla arrive at a State Banquet in Nairobi last year

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles arrive for a party at Windsor Castle after announcing their engagement earlier
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Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles arrive for a party at Windsor Castle after announcing their engagement earlier

The Queen Mother arrives for  a performance of 42nd Street at Drury Lane. She is wearing a turquoise evening dress and one of her favourite necklaces of diamonds and pearls that was originally a wedding gift to Princess Alexandra from her husband, the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII
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The Queen Mother arrives for  a performance of 42nd Street at Drury Lane. She is wearing a turquoise evening dress and one of her favourite necklaces of diamonds and pearls that was originally a wedding gift to Princess Alexandra from her husband, the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII

This time the Prince of Wales chose something from his own grandmother, The Queen Mother. This was an art deco diamond ring, that she had received on the birth of Charles’s mother, Queen Elizabeth II.

The ring is set with an emerald cut diamond of 8 carats, with three diamond baguettes set on the shoulders either side.

As ITN said at the time of the engagement, it was ‘a ring worth waiting for’, which in recent months Queen Camilla has proven she more than deserves.

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