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Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on Thursday at the age of 96, was famous for her dazzling collection of regal jewels. Britain’s longest-reigning monarch possessed 98 brooches, 46 necklaces, 37 bracelets, 34 pairs of earrings, 15 rings, 14 watches and five pendants. But her favorite piece, without a doubt, was a deeply sentimental, three-strand pearl necklace — a gift from her beloved grandfather, King George V, who died in 1936.
For the past 70 years, the pearl necklace along with a complementary pair of diamond-accented pearl stud earrings had been the most recognizable part of Elizabeth’s “official uniform,” which often included a brightly colored two-piece suit, decorative hat and the classic Launer black leather Traviata handbag.
The future monarch was only nine years old when she received the three-strand, perfectly matched pearl necklace from her grandfather during his Silver Jubilee in 1935, one year before his death. The pearls represented one of Elizabeth’s first pieces of “real” jewelry and remained a powerful reminder of the special bond they shared.
Elizabeth loved the three-strand pearl necklace so much that she arranged for an identical one to be made, and then in 1953, a third three-stand pearl necklace joined her collection. It was a gift from the Emir of Qatar and the only difference among the three was that this version sported a diamond clasp.
It was rumored that, over the years, she rotated the pearl necklaces freely so she wouldn’t risk wearing out the prized original.
Her favorite pearl earrings were a wedding present from her beloved grandmother, Queen Mary, in 1947.
Since Elizabeth’s death, the internet has been abuzz with theories on what will happen to her priceless jewels. Would they be distributed among her four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren? Or would Elizabeth’s eldest son, King Charles III, inherit all the treasure?
Since royal wills are sealed, there is no way to know right now how this will pan out, but a close follower of the Royal Family and its baubles believes she has the answer.
Lauren Kiehna of The Court Jeweller blog told Page Six Style that Elizabeth likely followed in the footsteps of her grandmother, Queen Mary (1867-1953), and her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (1900-2002), and bequeathed all of her jewelry directly to the new monarch, King Charles III.
“There are both historical and taxation-related benefits to this method of inheritance,” she explained.
If the jewelry was gifted to other individuals, she said, the items would be subject to a hefty inheritance tax.
Credit: Image by UK Government, OGL 3, via Wikimedia Commons.
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