Lectures are normally in the Play House: 10.45 for morning members: 13.30 for afternoon members.

Thursday 17th January 2019


Love, Power and Scandal

By Susan Rumfitt

This talk explored the variety of symbols which Royal jewels stood for ranging from the time of Henry Vlll to the present day.

Jewels symbolising power were shown in a portrait of Henry Vlll in The National Portrait Gallery which displays some of his splendid jewellery collection. He is wearing rubies, gold and black diamonds. Gold is painted with gold leaf and gold itself is considered a metal which displays power. On one of the chains is the letter H and there are huge precious stones adorning him; the implication being the larger the stone, the more powerful Henry was. To reinforce this message of his power he adorned all his wives with magnificent jewellery .Three pearls which feature on much of their significant jewellery symbolises The Holy Trinity, yet another sign of power.

Elizabeth l loved pearls as is shown in The Armada Portrait. She bought and sold jewellery and granted loans against the jewellery of foreign powers! Her rows of pearls in the portrait were designed to show that she could sell them to raise money for armies to defend England so the people should feel safe with her as queen.

However, jewellery could also symbolise love and Elizabeth l had a ring containing a miniature of herself and her mother, Anne Boleyn, to show her love for her. Jewellery can be used to show other types of love such as Caroline of Brunswick’s rings which she gave to a group of ladies who supported her through her unhappy marriage to George lV and had engraved on them “Britain’s Injured Queen.”

Queen Victoria was given jewellery by Prince Albert to show his love for her such as an exquisite bow motif brooch , a love knot which could be easily broken  but could equally easily  be tied tight. Queen Victoria was also more interested in sentimental jewellery rather than jewellery of power and she had locks of Albert’s  hair put into pendants she wore so he was with her at all times. Edward Vlll gave Wallis Simpson stunning jewellery which he had specially commissioned.

It featured nature and animals which showed her softer side. Susan ended this fascinating lecture by bringing it right up to date with the history of tiaras worn recently by the young Royals.


Please note that Susan stepped in to replace the originally planned lecturer Mary Alexander. Mary will present her lecture in June 2010.