Whilst researching for my historical interpretation role I have to deeply research both Victoria and Albert's regalia, jewellery, clothing ect. Today I am delving into Prince Albert's Lesser George, or should I say George IV's...
A Lesser George sits on the hip of the Order Of The Garter riband, which is worn for evening and offical occasions such as holding an audience or attending a ball. -
In this image you see Prince Albert in evening wear wearing The Order of The Garter riband with the formal Lesser George suspended from it, Order Of The Garter breast star, the badge of The Order of The Bath adorning his neck and the star of The Order of St. John of Jerusalem below the Garter star.
This particular Lesser George is a joint Garter and (Order of The) Thistle badge. The cameo is on a gold swivel frame which features two gold pins on both the top and base so the cameo can be flipped to the chosen Order. This badge was originally mounted for George IV in 1829 but was broken up during the dispersal of most of his insignia/regalia in 1829 and in 1840 it was remounted for Prince Albert, using 123 brilliants and 1 rose cut diamond taken from a brilliant shoulder loop that had belonged to George III. The Garter cameo features St George slaying the dragon and The Order of The Thistle features St Andrew holding his cross. Both cameos are crafted from sardonxy which is a rare agate commonly used in creating cameos.
Queen Victoria presented Prince Albert with Garter insignia on the 8th February, two days before their wedding. Queen Victoria mentions her gifting Albert the regalia in her journal - 'Lord M. admired the diamond Garter which Albert had on, and said: “Very handsome”. I told him it was my gift; I also gave him (all before dinner) a diamond star, I had worn, and Badge' Prince Albert was also appointed to The Order of The Thistle in 1842.
After Prince Albert's death in 1861 which plunged Victoria into excessive mourning, Victoria only wore Prince Albert's Lesser George upon her garter riband as a memorial to Albert. She first adorned her Garter riband with it in 1863 whilst attending the wedding of The Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra. She mentions this occasion in her journal on the 10th March 1863-
'Cold from nervousness & agitation I dressed, wearing my weeds, but a silk grown with crepe, a long veil & my cap, & for the 1rst time since Dec 61! the ribbon star & badge of the Order of the Garter, the latter being one my beloved one had worn, also the ‘Victoria & Albert’ order, on which I have had dearest Albert’s head put above mine & a brooch containing a miniature of him set round with diamonds, which I have worn ever since 40'
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II favoured this particular Lesser George from the beginning of her reign until the end, she wore it for dozens of official portraits including her official 2012 photograph.