The government of the United Kingdom is by God not going to let Queen Victoria’s historically significant diamond and sapphire coronet, designed by Prince Albert himself, just waltz out of the country with some foreign buyer. No indeed, my good man!
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.
Made in 1840, the year of their royal wedding, the coronet was designed to match a brooch that Albert gave Victoria the day before they got married, a statement from the UK’s Department for Culture, Media & Sport notes. “My dear Albert has such good taste and arranges everything for me about my jewellery,” the young queen wrote in her journal.
According to the BBC, Victoria wore the piece regularly, including in this 1842 portrait by Winterhalter—which “became one of the defining images of the Queen not only in Europe and the Empire, but throughout the world”—as well as the first time she attended the State Opening of Parliament after Albert’s death, in 1866.
“It is one of the most iconic jewels from a pivotal period in our history and symbolises one of our nation’s most famous love stories,” said culture minister Matt Hancock. “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.” Translation: Not on my bloody watch.
If this sounds familiar, it’s probably because Kelly Clarkson ran into the same problem when she tried to purchase one of Jane Austen’s very rare pieces of jewelry and the UK government refused to issue an export license until UK buyers had another chance to match the sale price. The turquoise and gold ring is now proudly displayed at the Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire, with a note explaining that Clarkson tried it, but did not succeed.
Guess this means I’ll just have to cat burgle any Brontë baubles that find their way onto the open market.