UK Places Export Ban on Queen Victoria’s $6.5 Million Crown

Prince Albert designed it for their wedding in 1840.

Queen Victoria's diamond and sapphire coronet. Image courtesy of the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Queen Victoria had a legendary love for colored gemstones. So, for their wedding in 1840, Prince Albert designed her a diamond and sapphire crown. Now, the coronet has been put up for sale with an asking price of £5 million, plus £1 million VAT ($6.5 million plus $1.3 million in taxes), and the national treasure is at risk of leaving the UK as its current owner has applied for an export license.

The culture minister has placed an export ban on the coronet, valid until December 2016. The hope is that a serious UK buyer will step forward, or will declare an intention to raise the funds.

The small crown is 4.5 inches wide, and is made of 11 gold-mounted sapphires surrounded by silver-mounted diamonds. Goldsmith Joseph Kitching made the crown for £415, with a brooch to match.

Queen Victoria wore the coronet for an official state portrait in 1842. Notably, she wore it to the State Opening of Parliament in 1866, when she attended the ceremony for the first time after the death of her husband.

Detail of Queen Victoria's coronet. Image courtesy of the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Detail of Queen Victoria’s coronet. Image courtesy of the UK Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The coronet passed hands to Queen Mary and King George V, who gifted it to Princess Mary in 1922. Sometime in the 20th century, it was sold to a London dealer, who sold it to the current export license applicant.

The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Cultural Interest (RCEWA) recommended the ban, on the grounds that the coronet was “key to the self-image of the young Victoria.”

UK culture minister Matt Hancock imposed the ban, calling it “one of the most iconic jewels from a pivotal period” of the nation’s history. He adds, “I hope that we are able to keep the coronet in the UK and on display for the public to enjoy for years to come.”


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