Queen Victoria's Fabergé Notebook
To Go On Display For First Time

Queen Victoria's Fabergé notebook, which she received as a Christmas gift from Tsar Nicholas II in 1896.
Photograph: The Royal Collection.

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On 21 June 1897 – at a glittering dinner at Buckingham Palace attended by most of the crowned heads of Europe on the eve of her diamond jubilee celebrations – Queen Victoria wrote in her diamond-studded Fabergé notebook: "All the family, foreign Royalties, special Ambassadors & Envoys were invited".

She recorded that she sat between two relatively minor figures, the Prince of Naples, and a man who had recently become heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne since the suicide of his cousin and the death of his father. Nobody present could have guessed that, 17 years later, the death of her neighbour at table would plunge Europe into war, when Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated at Sarajevo in June 1914.

Victoria's notebook, packed with autographs of those who attended the celebrations, is to go on public display for the first time in an exhibition at Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh next month.

It was a gift from two more doomed figures: Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra bought it from Fabergé in St Petersburg in December 1896 for 250 roubles, and sent it to Victoria as a Christmas gift, after staying with her at Balmoral earlier that year. A photograph from a royal family album, also in the exhibition, shows them together in Scotland.

The notebook is inscribed: "For Dearest Grandmama from Nicky and Alix, Xmas 1896."

The notebook is among dozens of pieces of Fabergé from the Royal Collection included in the forthcoming exhibition Treasures from the Queen's Palaces, which will also show paintings, jewellery and furniture, celebrating the fact that only Victoria and Elizabeth II, in the history of the British monarchy, have reigned long enough to celebrate diamond jubilees.

Victoria recorded that she greatly admired the tsarina's Fabergé jewellery, "of which she has quantities, all her own private property".

Faberge's Mosaic Egg contains a tiny jewelled and enameled miniature frame with the profiles of the five children of Emperor Nicholas II.
Photograph: The Royal Collection.

The exhibition will also show Fabergé's Mosaic Egg containing portraits of the tsar's five children – his last Easter gift to Alexandra in 1914. It was confiscated in the Russian revolution, but bought by King George V in 1933.

Treasures from the Queen's Palaces will run from 16 March to 4 November at the Queen's Gallery, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh.

Source & Copyright: The Guardian
23 February, 2012