The royal family have access to some of the most historical—and spectacular—jewellery on the planet, and often the most stunning of the crown jewels are bestowed to royal brides as engagement rings. Of the stunning pieces given, many feature diamonds that once belonged to other members of the royal family or feature coloured gemstones that were previously used in equally-as-striking jewellery, including brooches and tiaras.
But while the engagement rings of royal women are incredible to look at, many actually hold sentimental stories behind the couple’s unique relationships. From Meghan Markle’s diamonds being sourced from the late Princess of Wales’ personal collection to Queen Elizabeth II having a secret engraving from the Duke of Edinburgh, below we take a deep dive into the sweet stories behind some of the world’s most famous royal engagement rings.
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall
While it was not Queen Elizabeth’s engagement ring from King George VI, it holds sentimental value due to Charles’ incredibly close relationship with the late royal. The ring features an art deco design and five-carat emerald cut diamond in the centre, which is paired with a platinum gold wedding band and three diamond baguettes on either side.
The ring is just one of the many jewellery pieces Camilla has acquired from the Queen Mother’s collection, with the royal regularly wearing the Greville Tiara.
The stunning design has a fascinating history, too, with its beginnings dating back to 1840 when Prince Albert had British jeweller Garrard create a sapphire-and-diamond brooch for his future wife, Queen Victoria, a piece the royal loved so much she wore it up until her husband’s death in 1861. The wedding gift has since remained a crown heirloom that is regularly worn by Queen Elizabeth II and is what inspired Prince Charles when he was picking out a ring for Diana.
Interestingly, the 12-carat Ceylon sapphire surrounded by 14 solitaire diamonds was originally inherited by Prince Harry, until he gave it to William when he wanted to propose. When the Duke of Cambridge becomes monarch, he will inherit the matching brooch as part of the crown jewels, so it won’t be surprising if one day we spot the Duchess of Cambridge paying homage to the sapphire accessory.
Queen Elizabeth II
Another royal ring steeped in history is that of Queen Elizabeth II’s. Prince Philip reportedly had the three-carat diamond ring made with diamonds from one of his mother’s—Princess Alice of Battenberg—tiaras.
In the biography, Prince Philip: A Portrait of the Duke of Edinburgh, it was revealed that the ring also features a secret inscription. “At least [Prince] Philip didn’t have the expense of a wedding ring, as the people of Wales supplied a nugget of Welsh gold from which the ring is made,” the book reads (via People). “She [Queen Elizabeth II] never takes it off and inside the ring is an inscription. No one knows what it says, other than the engraver, the Queen and her husband.”
We’d love to know what sweet message lies underneath.
Meghan Markle’s engagement ring was a labour of love for Prince Harry, who designed the ring himself as opposed to selecting a family heirloom from the royals extensive collection. The three-carat cushion-cut diamond, which sits in the centre, is surrounded by two smaller diamonds set on a yellow gold band.
It holds a deeper meaning than just being a sight for sore eyes, though. The centre diamond was sourced from Botswana, a country that holds a special meaning to the couple, who travelled there in the early days of their relationship. “We were really by ourselves, which was crucial to me to make sure we had a chance to get to know each other,” Harry said following the couple’s 2019 engagement.
The other diamonds were taken from the late Princess Diana’s personal collection, to “make sure she is with us on this crazy journey together.”
Though not much is known about Princess Eugenie’s engagement, the ring given to her by now-husband Jack Brooksbank was inspired by her mother’s Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York. Fergie’s ring, which was designed by Prince Andrew, featured a Burmese ruby surrounded by diamonds.
Eugenie’s, similar in style and colour, has a large Padparadscha sapphire, a rare stone that has a pink tint to it, surrounded by diamonds. At the time of their engagement, Brooksbank said he chose the ring because “it changes colour when it hits certain lights, much like Eugenie.”