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February 8, 2017
On Monday, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her 65th year on the British throne. Buckingham Palace commemorated the sapphire anniversary by re-releasing a portrait of the 90-year-old Queen bedecked in a suite of glittering sapphire jewelry her father, King George VI, gave her as a wedding day gift nearly 70 years ago.
Snapped by British photographer David Bailey in 2014, the portrait shows Her Royal Highness in a beaded sky blue gown accessorized by an elaborate sapphire necklace and matching earrings. The Royal Family's official Twitter account posted the portrait with the caption "Today marks 65 years since Her Majesty The Queen acceded to the throne #SapphireJubilee."
The mid-19th century necklace has 14 stations of large emerald-cut sapphires framed by round diamonds. Separating each cluster is an individual diamond.
The necklace was originally designed with 18 sapphire clusters, but was shortened by four links in 1952, according to the blog titled "From Her Majesty's Jewel Vault." Seven years later, the Queen took the largest cluster and had it transformed into a hanging pendant, which doubles as a brooch. Each pendant earring highlights a large teardrop-shaped sapphire surrounded by smaller round diamonds. All the gemstones are set in gold.
The Queen broke the record as the longest-reigning British monarch in September 2015. She had ascended the throne on February 6, 1952, upon the death of her father, King George VI at age 56. The Queen received the sapphire suite in November of 1947, when she wed Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The Prince will be 96 in June.
Bailey's image of the Queen was originally used to illustrate England's 2014 "Great" campaign, which promoted the UK as a great place to visit, study and do business.
Credit: Image by David Bailey via Twitter/The Royal Family.