Six Ways to Celebrate the Royal Birthday
Celebrating The Queen's 90th Birthday
by Helen Brocklebank
The Queen has received many interesting and unusual gifts during her long life – a pair of cowboy boots from the US, a box of snail shells, a grove of maple trees, two black beavers from Canada (swiftly given to London Zoo) and a Maori canoe, demonstrating that it’s not as hard as it looks to find an original present. However, on the grounds that she probably already has everything she wanted, why not spend the money you could have spent on her present on a gift for yourself – here are some of our suggestions.
A Royal engagement ring
In the summer of 1946, whilst on holiday at Balmoral, Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten proposed to the twenty-year old Princess Elizabeth. The King wanted the engagement to remain a secret until the Princess came of age, and it wasn’t until later that Philip took diamonds from a tiara belonging to his mother, Princess Andrew of Greece, to Philip Antrobus Ltd on Bond Street, to be set in platinum in an elegant take on a classic solitaire. Fast forward seventy years and British jeweller George Pragnell, who now owns Philip Antrobus, has created a contemporary interpretation of the Queen’s engagement ring, inspired by original designs from the Antrobus archive: one imagines a proposal with this ring could kindle a marriage as happy and enduring as the Queen and Prince Philip’s.
Three carat diamond ring in a platinum ‘Antrobus’ setting, £POA, George Pragnell 02074092845
A Birthday Party
If you’re charging your glasses to raise a toast to the Queen on her birthday, you could do worse than Bollinger, the champagne with demonstrably the best Royal creds, having held a Royal Warrant continuously since it was first awarded by Queen Victoria in 1884. However, the Queen herself is reputed to prefer spirits to fine wine, so perhaps a glass of gin and Dubonnet, a favourite tipple, might be more fitting. Or why not host your own birthday celebrations at Annabel’s and serve the driest of dry gin martinis, no lemon, as drunk by Her Majesty when she last visited Annabel’s: who knows, she might be tempted to pop in again? Members can toast the Queen on Thursday 21st April as we celebrate with pomp and ceremony at the Club throughout the evening.
All aboard a birthday boat
Since the Royal Yacht Britannia was decommissioned in 1997 – one of the few public tears shed by H.M. – The Queen hasn’t gone entirely boatless. Sir Donald Gosling’s Leander G, with its beautiful country-house interior, has subbed as an informal Royal Yacht, and was available to the Queen gratis for the whole of her Jubilee year in 2012 (and available for charter at £350,000 a week to the less blue-blooded). It would be nice to think that Leander G’s new owner might extend the offer to Her Majesty this year, in case she fancies a birthday celebration on board. And should you want your own Royal yacht, talk to Y.Co, who can help you with your search.
Carry on Corgis
Hidden under the blankets in the Royal carriage as Elizabeth and Philip left for their honeymoon in 1947 was the Queen’s beloved Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Susan, given to her on her eighteenth birthday. Susan was the founder of a royal corgi dynasty that has lasted more than seventy years, but, unofficially, will end with the Queen’s two surviving corgis, Willow and Holly. Now that the Kennel Club has listed the corgi as a vulnerable native breed, it’s your patriotic duty to ditch thoughts of a Doodle or a French Bulldog in favour of a breeding pair of Welsh Pembrokes.
To track down a breeder with the right credentials, contact The Kennel Club, or www.welshcorgileague.co.uk
The Queen Next Door
Is there a more prestigious London address than Buckingham Palace? First used as an official Royal Residence by Queen Victoria, it has 770 rooms in 40 acres of garden, and is home not only to The Queen, but to the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of York, the Earl and Countess of Wessex, The Princess Royal and Princess Alexandra. Held in trust by the Crown Estates, it’s unlikely to ever come up for sale, but the next best thing, perhaps, would be to live right next door: Northacre is developing No.1 Palace Street, a Grade II listed building dating from 1861, with unique views over the gardens of Buckingham, and an original emblematic design that mirrors the footprint of the Palace itself.
No.1 Palace Street, due for completion early 2018. Enquiries T +44 (0) 20 7349 8000
It’s said that if the Queen feels it’s time to move on from a conversation, she will put her handbag on the floor to signal she wants rescuing. The Queen’s handbag is as much a part of her iconography as a corgi, and handmade to order every year by British firm, Launer. Her favourite styles are the Launer Diva or Traviata, but has them made with longer handles to make it easier for her to shake hands and to have a specially light suede lining so it’s not too heavy to carry. More regal than a Kelly bag, less instantly identifiable than a Chanel 2.55, a Launer bag is the ultimate British It-bag: Signal your own appreciation for the Queen’s choice this summer with this red, white and blue number.
Tri-tone Traviata, £1,500, Launer London, available from Fortnum & Mason, Selfridges and launer.com