SAPPHIRE SOVEREIGN: Queen Elizabeth II has broken yet another record: Britain’s longest-serving monarch, who turns 91 this year, has become the only one to mark a Sapphire Jubilee. It was 65 years ago that King George VI died and Princess Elizabeth became queen (as all of those watching “The Crown” on Netflix can attest).
To mark the occasion, Buckingham Palace has reissued a portrait of Queen Elizabeth by David Bailey. Shot in 2014, it shows the queen wearing the sapphire jewelry her father gave her in 1947 as a wedding gift. The original photograph was taken in 2014 for the British government’s “Great” campaign, to promote the U.K. globally.
“She has very kind eyes with a mischievous glint,” said Bailey. “I’ve always liked strong women, and she is a very strong woman.”
Princess Elizabeth became queen following the death of her father King George VI on Feb. 6, 1952, and sapphire is the gemstone that marks a 65th anniversary. The necklace dates from the 1850s, and is made with sapphires and diamonds. It has matching drop earrings. The Queen had the necklace adjusted with the large stone turned into a pendant.
While the monarch is not publicly celebrating her sapphire jubilee, events are being held to honor her. The King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery held a 41-gun salute in Green Park, while the Tower of London saw a similar salute. There was a 62-round Royal Salute at Gun Wharf Quays in Portsmouth, England and the Royal Mail has issued a 5 pound, or $6.23, blue stamp for the occasion.
The queen marked her 90th birthday last year with events including a walkabout, beacon lightings, a public party at The Mall, dinner with the Obamas and a birthday party at Windsor Castle.
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