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Since the age of Queen Victoria, members of the royal family have embraced the engagement ring tradition. But the designs and styles have varied greatly—from colored stones to simple diamonds and brand new rings to family heirlooms. Since it may be awhile before another royal engagement, we're breaking down all the iconic engagement rings given in the past.
1477: Mary of Burgundy
Although the custom of exchanging engagement rings dates back to Roman times, the first diamond engagement ring (opens in new tab) was given to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 by her fiancé, Archduke Maximilian of Austria. The royal's choice of ring caused diamond engagement rings to trend with European nobility.
1839: Queen Victoria
In the early 19th century, it still wasn't common for brides to receive engagement rings. But just like with the white wedding dress (opens in new tab), Queen Victoria made it popular. When Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg proposed to the reigning Queen, he presented her with an 18-carat gold multi-colored stone ring (opens in new tab).
The style of Queen Victoria's engagement ring was quite unique. The gold band was designed to mimic the look of a serpent (opens in new tab) coiled around her finger, with two rubies for the eyes, a string of diamonds for the mouth, and a large emerald stone (the Queen's birthstone) in the middle. Here, the Queen wears the ring on her right hand after the death of Prince Albert.
1855: Princess Royal Victoria
Queen Victoria's daughter, the Princess Royal, was betrothed to German Emperor Frederick III in 1856. Pictured is a sketch of her fiancé presenting her with an engagement ring. The young Princess's marriage was an attempt to closely bond Great Britain with Prussia.
1863: Princess Alexandra of Denmark
When the Prince of Wales, future King Edward VII, proposed to Princess Alexandra of Denmark in 1863, he presented her with an acrostic engagement ring. The unique style features gemstones across the band that spell out a word or meaning. In this instance, the ring used beryl, emerald, ruby, topaz, and jacinth (opens in new tab) stones to spell the groom's nickname, Bertie.
1893: Queen Mary of Teck
King George V proposed to Mary of Teck in May 1893 under unusual circumstances. Mary was previously engaged to his older brother (opens in new tab), Prince Albert Victor, who died of pneumonia during their engagement in 1892. The couple was pressured into marriage and wed on July 6, 1893.
The Lost Ring
While their engagement was announced in the garden of Sheen Lodge in 1893, the details of Queen Mary's engagement ring remains unknown. Historians have been unable to find a record of or track down a ring belonging to the Queen, who reigned from 1910 until 1936, and it's referred to as the lost ring (opens in new tab). The Queen did, however, leave behind the Queen Mary Bandeau Tiara, which she wore on her wedding day and was lent to the Duchess of Sussex on her wedding day in 2018.
1923: Queen Elizabeth
Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon was proposed to by the Duke of York, later King George VI, in 1923 and they married shortly after (opens in new tab) at Westminster Abbey.
The Duke of York proposed with a sapphire stone engagement ring with diamond accents. However, it's said that the late Queen switched her engagement ring (opens in new tab) in the 1950s for a ring with a pearl center that was surrounded by a cluster of diamonds.
1937: Wallis Simpson
The Prince of Wales had to consider a lot more than just what ring to propose with when he decided to marry Wallis Simpson in 1936, as he was forced to abdicate the throne first. He did just that, becoming the Duke of York and marrying Simpson in France in 1937.
Wallis Simpson, a twice divorced American socialite, received a stunning 19.77 carat emerald stone (opens in new tab) set in a Cartier ring from the Duke of York.
1947: Queen Elizabeth II
Then-Princess Elizabeth announced her engagement to Philip Mountbatten at Buckingham Palace on July 9, 1947. The couple tied the knot the following November in Westminster Abbey.
Prince Philip sourced the stones for Queen Elizabeth's engagement ring from his mother's tiara (opens in new tab). The classic mid-century design includes a square-cut center diamond and two side diamonds set in platinum. The Queen still wears the ring to this day—73 years later—with her Welsh gold wedding band.
1960: Princess Margaret
Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones announced their engagement in 1960 on the grounds of the Royal Lodge. The couple married on May 6, 1960 in Westminster Abbey.
Princess Margaret opted for a colored stone. Antony Armstrong-Jones proposed to the Princess with a ruby cluster ring that resembled a flower.
1973: Princess Anne
The Princess Royal and Captain Mark Phillips announced their engagement on the lawn of Buckingham Palace in 1973. Princess Anne, a keen equestrian, met the Olympic medal rider at a party in 1968 (opens in new tab), and the two bonded over their love of horses.
The ring that Captain Mark Phillips proposed to Princess Anne with was a square-cut sapphire flanked by two side diamonds. Sadly, the couple separated in 1989 and officially divorced in 1992.
1981: Lady Diana Spencer
Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles announced their engagement in 1981 on the steps of Buckingham Palace. The future princess selected the ring herself from a Garrard catalogue. Some say that the Palace was upset with the ring selection (opens in new tab) because it wasn't a rare jewel and could be purchased by anyone at the time.
The ring was a hit with the public and caused a huge trend in colored stone engagement rings. The ring, set in white gold, featured an 12-carat oval Ceylon sapphire (opens in new tab) with cluster diamonds around it.
1992: Princess Anne (Again)
Princess Anne remarried in 1992, the same year that her divorce was finalized. In a private ceremony in Scotland, she and Commander Timothy Laurence tied the knot.
At first glance, Princess Anne's engagement ring looks similar to the ring from her first marriage. However, it's actually quite unique. The center stone is a blue cabochon that's set with a trio of small diamonds on each side.
1999: Sophie Rhys-Jones
Queen Elizabeth's youngest son, Prince Edward, proposed to public relations executive Sophie Rhys-Jones in 1999. The couple announced the news in London on January 1999 and were married later that year at St. George's Chapel.
Prince Edward opted for a traditional diamond ring featuring a 2-carat oval diamond set in white gold, with slightly smaller heart-shaped diamonds on both sides. The royal wears the sparkler with her traditional Welsh gold wedding band.
2005: Camilla Parker Bowles
Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles got married, each for the second time, in a civil ceremony and religious blessing in 2005. The bride did not wear white, but the engagement ring the prince proposed with was extremely traditional.
2005: The Ring
Prince Charles gave the Duchess of Cornwall one of the biggest and most valuable engagement rings (opens in new tab) in the royal family, which also happens to be a family heirloom. The ring, an emerald-cut diamond with diamond baguettes on each side, originally belonged to the Queen Mother.
2007: Autumn Kelly
Princess Anne's son, Peter Phillips, proposed to his Canadian girlfriend Autumn Kelly in 2007. The couple, pictured here at the Festival of British Eventing at Gatcombe Park, were later married at St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
2007: The Ring
Peter Phillips proposed with a stunning oval center stone that was set with side diamonds, as well as diamond baguettes.
2010: Zara Phillips
Zara Phillips met her fiancé, Australian rugby player Mike Tindall, in 2003. The couple announced their engagement in 2010 and married the following year.
2010: The Ring
Zara Tindall's engagement ring features a double pavé band and a round solitaire stone.
2010: Kate Middleton
Prince William proposed to his longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton, while on vacation in Kenya. The couple announced their engagement to the press at St. James's Palace in November 2010 and were married in April the following year at Westminster Abbey.
2010: The Ring
Prince William gave Middleton his late mother's sapphire cluster engagement ring, which sparked a resurgence in colored stone engagement rings. When speaking to reporters during his engagement announcement, Prince William explained why he chose the ring. "It was my way of making sure mother didn't miss out on today and the excitement and the fact that we're going to spend the rest of our lives together," he said, per ABC News (opens in new tab).
2017: Meghan Markle
In November 2017, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle arrived hand in hand at Princess Diana's Memorial Garden in Kensington Palace to announce their engagement (opens in new tab). The couple, who met through mutual friends (opens in new tab) in London in 2016, were married in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle in May of 2018.
2017: The Ring
Prince Harry proposed to the Suits actress with a three-stone diamond ring set on a gold band. The ring, made by royal jeweler Cleave and Company, features a center stone from Botswana flanked by two smaller round diamonds from Princess Diana's personal jewelry collection (opens in new tab).
2019: The Revamp
The royal made her first public appearance after the birth of her son at the 2019 Trooping of the Colour ceremony, and fans were quick to notice something different about Markle's left finger. The Duchess of Sussex debuted a revamped engagement ring (opens in new tab)—replacing the original gold band with a thinner band of pavé diamonds—as well as a new diamond eternity band on her stack.
2018: Princess Eugenie
Princess Eugenie announced her engagement to Jack Brooksbank in January 2018. The couple tied the knot in October 2018 with a big royal wedding in St. George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
2018: The Ring
While announcing their engagement, Princess Eugenie revealed her stunning Padparadscha Sapphire and diamond cluster ring.
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