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Royal collection

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Mosaic Fabergé egg, emeralds, rubies and diamonds

Mosaic Fabergé egg, emeralds, rubies and diamonds, 1914. ©AP.

The Royal collection’s history covers more than 500 years with some items belonging to the English monarchs of XVI c. However, the Collection has largely been formed since the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 and nowadays it holds fine and applied arts in various media, distributed between principal royal residences: The State Rooms and the Royal Mews at  Buckingham Palace; The Queen’s Gallery, London; Clarence House, London; Windsor Castle and Frogmore House, Windsor; Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh; and The Queens’ Gallery, Edinburgh. The Queen does not own the Collection as a private individual, but holds it in trust as Sovereign for her successors and the Nation. In order to make the Collection more accessible for the public, over 3,000 objects are on long-term loan to museums and galleries around the UK and abroad.

Buckingham Palace, London

Buckingham Palace, London

Russian collections. Some Russian artefacts found their way into the Royal Collection as gifts from the Russian Imperial court, exemplifying the political and dynastic links between Britain and Russia, while other objects were acquired by Royal collectors. The most interesting and valuable is the stunning collection of the objects by the great Russian goldsmith Peter Carl Fabergé, that the Royal family amassed over more than a century. The first monarch to start collecting Fabergé was Queen Victoria in the late 19th century, followed by six successive generations of the British Royal Family, including The Queen Elisabeth II and Charles, The Prince of Wales. The first Fabergé piece to be owned by the British royal family was a silver-guilt notebook, presented to Queen Victoria by her granddaughter Tsarina Alexandra and Tsar Nicholas II. The notebook was signed by all the European kings and queens who came to Buckingham Palace in 1897 to celebrate the Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. By now the Royal Fabergé Collection includes more than 100 items and is considered the finest in the world. The collection holds some precious Imperial Easter eggs commissioned by Tsar Nicholas II for Tsarina Alexandra, a miniature tea set measuring just 1 cm in height, made of gold and enamelled, jewel encrusted boxes, frames, cigarette cases and other ornaments.

Other Russian-connected artefacts from the Royal Collection include several portraits of the members of the Romanov dynasty of XIX c.; a malachite and gilt bronze vase on pedestal, c. 1825, probably made in the Imperial Lapidary Workshops at Peterhof and acquired by  King George IV in 1827 for his Windsor Castle; an interesting collection of late XIX - early XX century photographs featuring members of the British, Danish and Russian royal families, with the emphasises on their close family links; highly decorated examples of a traditional Russian drinking vessel – kovsh – including the one with an enamelled copy of a painting of Cossacks by Ilya Repin. Some of the Russian artefacts are accessible on-line via an e-Gallery at http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/eGallery/.