There are myriad ways to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this June, but the most enjoyable might be a trip to Sotheby’s mammoth royal exhibition, running from May 28 to June 15. Rather than homing in specifically on the Windsors, the storied auction house will trace the full history of the British monarchy in its “Royal Portraits & Manuscripts” showcase, assembling works ranging from Queen Elizabeth I’s celebrated Armada portrait, on loan from Woburn Abbey for the occasion, to Andy Warhol’s depiction of Queen Elizabeth II, based on a photograph taken at Windsor Castle in 1975 and released as part of the artist’s Reigning Queens series in 1985. Dotted amongst the historic paintings: rare and fascinating ephemera, including a death warrant signed by Elizabeth I, a gold and silver embroidered Bible that once belonged to Queen Anne, and collectors’ items from Elizabeth II’s Coronation.
It’s the tiaras, though, that make the exhibition so compelling – with aristocratic families from across Europe loaning their family jewels to Sotheby’s for the occasion. No less than 50 diadems will be on display, with Sotheby’s using each piece to highlight the evolution of jewelry design from the 18th century onwards. Take the spectacular 1830s tiara that nods to the classical styles of ancient Rome – brought back into fashion in the early 1800s by Napoleon Bonaparte and Empress Joséphine, whose love story will get the Ridley Scott treatment later this year. Even more unusual? A Van Cleef & Arpels creation from the ’60s, which nods to dazzling Indian jewelry with its turquoise cabochons.
Meanwhile, over at Kensington Palace, Windsor diehards can take in images of the royal family from Queen Victoria’s reign onwards – with an emphasis on Queen Elizabeth II and her descendants, including Vogue photographer Norman Parkinson’s intimate family portraits of Princess Margaret and Lord Snowdon. The jewel in the exhibition’s crown? David Bailey’s 1988 photograph of Diana, Princess of Wales. Consider it the best possible way to keep yourself entertained until the next season of The Crown.
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk