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Queen Mother only accepted King's proposal with a sapphire ring – which she then altered

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, as the Queen Mother was formerly known, died on March 20, 2002, which is 20 years ago today. Nearly 80 years before this, she married King George VI on April 26, 1923 in Westminster Abbey. Prince Albert, Duke of York, as the King was then known, became engaged to Elizabeth earlier that year in January.

But what did the engagement ring look like?

When the Queen Mother got engaged to King George VI, she was presented with a sapphire engagement ring.

But she later chose to change it for a different design entirely.

Lady Elizabeth reportedly turned down Prince Albert’s proposal three times before agreeing to marry him in January 1923.


The besotted Prince proposed to Lady Elizabeth in 1921, but she turned him down because, according to her biographer John Ezard, she felt “afraid never, never again to be free to think, speak and act as I feel I really ought to”.

Albert is reported to have proposed a second time when Elizabeth was a bridesmaid at the wedding of Princess Mary to Henry, Viscount Lascelles at Westminster Abbey.

The Queen Mother only accepted the future King’s proposal when he gave his bride-to-be an actual engagement ring.

The ring with which George VI proposed featured a sapphire with diamond accents. A few photos share a look at the pretty rock.


The fact it is a sapphire ring is interesting as they have continued to be popular among future royal brides.

Princess Diana chose a stunning sapphire and diamond design when she got engaged to Prince Charles in 1981.

The ring was later passed on to Kate Middleton when Prince William popped the question in 2010.

Later in her life, however, the Queen Mother swapped the sapphire on her ring out for a large pearl surrounded by diamonds.

But in her official wedding portraits, she did sport the Strathmore Rose Tiara.

She complemented her original engagement ring with a Welsh gold wedding band, which is traditional among royal ladies.

The Queen Mother is not the only royal who has made changes to her engagement ring.

Meghan Markle was presented with a beautiful gold trilogy engagement ring when Prince Harry proposed in November 2017, featuring diamonds from Botswana and from his late mother Princess Diana’s personal collection.

Just over 18 months later, Meghan had replaced the yellow gold band with a delicate diamond-studded band.



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