Russian Gems in Collection
of Queen Elizabeth II

The Mosaic egg was made for Nicholas II of Russia, who presented it to his wife, the Empress Alexandra Feodorovna in 1914. It was later
purchased by the British Royal Family in 1934, and to this day remains a part of the Royal Collection of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

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Though the details of the coming the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton are being kept in secret, many people are trying to guess what costume the prince will wear, what dress his fiancée will put on. People are also speculating about possible gifts. It is very likely that masterpieces of the great Russian jeweler Faberge will be among the presents to the newly married royal couple.

When Queen Elizabeth II married Prince Philip in 1947 she was happy to receive a Faberge crystal ink-pot from him. The passion of the British monarchs for Faberge’s work is well known. Everything started with a small notebook and a case decorated by Faberge craftsmen for Queen Victoria on the request of the Russian czar Nicolas II and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, who was Victoria’s granddaughter. But it was King Edward VII and his wife Alexandra who started the royal collection of Faberge works. We hear from Tatiana Muntyan, the keeper of Faberge’s museum in Moscow Kremlin:

"Edward II and his wife, who was the sister of Maria Fyodorovna, the consort of Alexander III, were passionate admirers of Faberge’s work. They were happy to receive elegant things by Faberge craftsmen as presents from the Russian czar family. But soon they wanted to receive constant access to Faberge items. Faberge opened his shop in London and the members of the British royal family became regular customers there. Queen Alexandra had the right to be the first one to examine all new things delivered from Russia and King Eduard VII used to tell his subordinates about new arrivals to Faberge shop implying that he would be glad to receive them as presents."

The Royal Family was allowed to receive cheap yet exquisite fancy goods, including cigarette cases and photo frames. In a letter to Queen Alexandra, Maria Fyodorovna lamented the fact that a Faberge shop opened in London, prompting her to be on the horns of a dilemma as far as the buying of presents is concerned.

As for the British Royal Family, it had repeatedly given kudos to the House of Faberge, which closely cooperated with Baron Rothschild and King Edward VII. The latter got miniature figures of all animals from his residence in Sandringham, Tatyana Muntyan says.

"The figures of dogs, pigeons, horses, pigs and donkeys were made of Urals semi-precious stones, Muntyan explain, citing Queen Alexandra’s appreciation of the work of Faberge sculptors, who spent several months creating the masterpieces in their workshop in St.Petersburg. The collection includes a miniature figure of King Edward VII’s terrier Caesar, whose golden neck-collar bears words “My master is King.”

Right now, Queen Elizabeth II possesses three Faberge eggs, which were purchased years after the shooting of the Romanov family. Faberge eggs were exclusively made for Russian Tsars Alexander III and Nicholas II, Tatyana Muntyan recalls , adding that the three ones, now in the possession of Elizabeth II, were earlier possessed by Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna.

"The Basket of Wild Flowers and Colonnade eggs are made of precious stones, not least sapphires, emeralds, diamonds, rubies and pearls, Muntyan explains, specifically piling praise on the eggs’ sophisticated design, created by renowned Russian architect Leonty Benois."

The third masterpiece, The Mosaic egg is incrusted with profiles of Nicholas II’s children and is now possessed by Queen Elizabeth II, Muntyan concludes.

Sources: The Voice of Russia
28 April, 2011