Royal boxes in public eye

Over 100 masterpieces by the greatest Russian jeweller of all time, Carl Fabergé, will go on public display in a large-scale exhibition at the Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace.

­Entitled “Royal Fabergé”, the selection tracks down six successive generations of the British Royal Family, from Queen Victoria to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, shaping what is now considered to be “the finest collection of Fabergé in the world – unparalleled in size, range and quality.”

Among the highlights created by Fabergé, the famous goldsmith of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, is a cigarette case which was once given to King Edward VII as a 40th wedding anniversary present by his sister-in-law, the Dowager Tsarina Maria Feodorovna.

Another must-see item with rich history is the so-called “Imperial presentation box”. According to art historians, in the hierarchy of state gifts presented by the Tsar, gem-set presentation boxes with miniature portraits of the Tsar or the imperial couple were  reserved only for monarchs, non-royal heads of state and very selectively, to high-ranking officials at home and abroad.

Lavishly decorated in dark green enamel, with ten brilliant-cut diamonds, the box on display is said to be one of the last imperial presentation boxes ever to have been given on behalf of the Tsar. There is a miniature of Tsar Nicholas II in the center of the lid where he is featured wearing a uniform of the 4th Imperial Family Rifle Guards and the Order of St George, which he received on October 25, 1915. The ledgers in the imperial cabinet archives reveal that the miniature was allocated on May 5, 1917, almost two months after the Tsar’s official abdication.

Despite political instability in Russia, the box managed to reach its intended recipient who was a member of the French Academy.  Queen Mary later acquired it and gave it to King George V on his birthday, on June 3, 1934.

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