Queen Elizabeth died on September 8, and while many titles have already changed hands, there is also plenty of material belonging to the late monarch to be shared among her family. Many of her famous pieces of jewelry belong to the Crown and cannot be permanently distributed to anyone, but her private jewelry collection is another matter.
A royal expert called Katie Nicholl spoke Entertainment tonight about who gets what and when.
Will Camilla the Queen Consort receive Elizabeth’s jewels?
“There’s a hierarchy to all of this,” Nicholl said. “The Queen Consort really gets first choice of the Queen’s jewellery. And after that is the Princess of Wales, of course, Kate [Middleton]. The Duchess of Sussex, I’m sure, will come in for some jewelery at some point, but she’s much further down the pecking order.”
What is the difference between the Queen’s Private Jewels and the Crown Jewels?
The main technical difference is that the Crown Jewels “belong to the nation” rather than the individuals who wear them. Nicholl said another thing that sets them apart is that the Crown Jewels are well-known and documented, whereas her private collection is much more mysterious.
“These are gifts given to the Queen over her reign, but the Crown Jewels belong to the monarch,” she explained. “They are handed down from monarch to monarch in trust for the nation. So technically they belong to the monarch, but the monarch must not run away with the crown jewels. They remain protected at the Tower of London in the safety of the nation and when a monarch dies, the crown jewels are immediately passed on to their heir.
How much is Queen Elizabeth’s jewelery collection worth?
Since her collection is not known outside her immediate circle, no one can really say what the Queen’s private collection is worth.
“While we can put a value of billions on the Crown Jewels, it is much more difficult to put a value on the Queen’s private collection, simply because we don’t know every piece in her collection,” Nicholl said. “And also, how can you put a price on something that might have been given to her by a world leader or a king or queen or an emperor or an empress 40, 50 years ago? These pieces have so much significance, historical significance, that it is very difficult to put a price on them.”
She added that while a jeweler might be able to look at jewelry she’s worn over the years and put a theoretical value on it based on visible stones and settings, they wouldn’t be able to take into account the historical or sentimental value of the items. They are “simply priceless.”
What is the most famous piece of jewelery in Queen Elizabeth’s private collection?
Prince Philip proposed to Elizabeth on July 8, 1947, presenting her with a three-carat round-cut diamond ring said to have been made from a tiara that belonged to his mother, Princess Alice of Battenberg. She will not be buried with this engagement ring, but will wear her Welsh gold wedding ring.
“Whoever gets to wear that ring is going to be a very, very special piece,” surmised Nicholl. “I would imagine, possibly, maybe for Princess Charlotte. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Aimée Lutkin is weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The lone hunter, will be published by Dial Press in February 2022.