£5 Sapphire Blue High Value Definitive
6 February 1952, His Majesty King George VI died peacefully at Sandringham and his eldest daughter, Elizabeth, ascended to the thrown at the age of 25. To celebrate the 65th anniversary of this momentous event, Royal Mail is issuing a new £5 sapphire blue high value definitive. This updated version of the stamp boasts enhanced security features, a larger size and a more striking sapphire blue colour together with an iridescent inscription.
The striking sapphire blue is an appropriate choice of colour. The Queen adores sapphires and one of her most treasured pieces of jewellery is the Prince Albert Brooch which she inherited when she ascended to the throne. The stunning brooch was a gift from Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha to Queen Victoria and he presented it to her the day before their wedding in 1840.
Prince Albert Sapphire Brooch
The centre piece of the brooch is a huge sapphire which is notable for its intense colour and this is surrounded by 12 fabulous diamonds. The Queen has chosen to wear this striking piece on many significant occasions including her dinner with JFK and Jackie Kennedy at Buckingham Palace and the Christening of her grandson, Prince William.
St. Edward’s Sapphire
Sapphires also feature heavily in the Imperial State Crown. This signifies the sovereignty of the monarch and is worn after the coronation ceremony and during the annual State Opening of Parliament. The crown features an incredible 2901 precious stones including the legendary Cullinan II diamond and no less than 17 sapphires. The most notable of these is the St. Edwards’s Sapphire.
The St. Edward’s Sapphire is said to have been taken from the ring of Edward the Confessor when he was re-interred at Westminster Abbey in 1163. However, there is some doubt about this. The ring was placed with the Abbey’s relics and these later disappeared during the dissolution of the monastery in 1540.
The enormous 104 carat Stuart Sapphire also adorns the Imperial State Crown. The origins of this jewel are lost in the mists of time but it is likely that it belonged to Charles II. It was certainly amongst the valuables which his successor, James II, took with him when he fled to France. The stone eventually ended up in the hands of James II’s last descendent, Cardinal York, who put it up for sale. It was then purchased by George III and set into the crown.
The Stuart Sapphire was originally given pride of place at the front of the crown but was later moved to the back in order to make room for the 317 carat Cullinan II diamond. The Stuart Sapphire is oval in shape and does have a few impurities but it has always been highly prized.
If you would like to see the Imperial State Crown for yourself, it is on display with the rest of the Crown Jewells at the Tower of London. The Prince Albert Brooch, on the other hand, is a piece from the Queen’s personal collection which resides behind locked doors at Buckingham Palace.